Philip City Council furthering discussions on snow alerts, geo-thermal heat and possible sales tax increase

The Philip City Council's regular meeting on Monday, February 1, began with an update on any emergency snow removal policy that might be adopted by the council.

The council and Matt Reckling, public works director, agreed that snow removal is easier and more efficient, thus cheaper, if the snow can be windrowed to the center of the streets from both curbs, then picked up and trucked away later. Defining when vehicles must be parked other places than by the curbs is the problem. A snow alert would be hard to define. How much snow, predicted or actual, constitutes a snow alert? Would that be a blanket of snowfall, or depth of drifts on the streets? Some residences do not have parking places other than the street. The committee will discuss it further, but most likely communicating to the public to have vehicles off the streets during expected snowfall may be easier than drafting and enforcing an official policy.

The council is following the hospital's proposed geo-thermal connection line project. The Philip Health Services, Inc. buildings will have to be retrofitted for the heating pipes and the converters. The Philip Geothermal Corporation will have to agree to PHSI becoming a member. The corporation is willing, but concerned, despite that engineers have said that there should be no fluctuations in the heat for downtown businesses. Supposedly, gravity flow will be sufficient and pumps will not be needed. The application for grant funds has been submitted by way of the city finance office.

The swimming pool replacement project has received four design bid proposals, which are being reviewed by SPN & Assoc. Two proposals did not fit all the criteria and were rejected. The city council has authorized its selection committee to grade the remaining bids on February 16.

The council has approved to support the efforts of the South Dakota Municipal League to allow another local option penny of sales tax legislation. "We will give our blessing toward trying to get the legislation passed, not necessarily for Philip to jump on board," said councilman Mike Vetter. Any such sales tax increase would have to be applied to a specific capital improvement project. The swimming pool could be such a project. Counties are not eligible for this sales tax option.

The City of Philip will host the South Dakota Municipal League District 8 meeting on April 22 at The Steakhouse.

Wording was clarified in a resolution concerning the hours of work in a standard work day in the personnel policy handbook. It cleared up any possible misinterpretation that lunch breaks are paid time.

The contract for residential garbage collection expires on May 31. The council approved bid specifications and authorized advertising for bids to be opened March 1.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation, Office of Aeronautics, has approved the city's 2010 airport operating license. The airport's credit card security system will have to be updated according to supplier's specifications. This could be a $6,000 to $7,000 expense that is not in the budget.

The street committee will research problems that may exist with the locations of some handicapped parking spaces downtown. Since people using walkers or wheelchairs either have difficulty with or cannot negotiate the curb, they must remain in the street until they reach the wheelchair accessible corner of the sidewalk. "Sometimes there is not enough room behind the parked vehicles for these pedestians, and traffic makes it scary at times," said Gay Tollefson.

SDML workmen's compensation safety training on February 18 in Wall will be attended by three Philip workers. "Safety is always good," said Vetter.

The Philip city council will meet in special session March 15 at 3:30 p.m. in the Commissioner's Room to sit as a Board of Equalization. Citizens are advised that the official PT-17 form must be filed with the finance officer no later than 5:00 p.m. on March 11 in order to have their equalization issues addressed at this meeting.

The next regular city council meeting will be at 7:00 p.m. Monday, March 1, in the Haakon County Community Room.