The problem with the windows at Fort Morgan’s historic city hall was one of the main items of discussion during a busy April 20 Fort Morgan City Council meeting.
The city had requested bids on addressing a long-standing problem with the building’s air filtration and dirt and dust particles coming through the windows. John Brennan, the city clerk, addressed the city council to explain how the project has been going.
Courtesy Jeffrey Beall / The Fort Morgan Times
Fort Morgan Historic City Hall is shown in March 2012.
Brennan explained that the windows were already replaced with storm windows in the hopes that this would help seal out unwanted air. However, this has not seemed to work and they are still experiencing issues with drafts.
The next step taken was to seek out a consultation on what was happening with the storm windows. Brennan said they were told that the problem is actually with the construction of the wooden window frames and not the window glass or the seal.
They then took it a step further and called on professional companies to take a look and inspect what the problem is and whether or not storm windows would fix it. Based on these companies’ reviews, it has been decided to move forward with solving the issue with the wooden frames.
The project was budgeted at $50,000 but when bids came in all were extremely over that budget. This is where Brennan has landed with the project and sought the advice of the city council for how to proceed.
Council member Lyn Deal spoke up and offered to take the information that has been gathered and speak with the historical society. Deal is an active member in the historical society and mentioned that she knows that over the last 25 years there have been thousands of windows with this type of framing that the historical society has had to address.
“What I’d like to do is go to them and show them the problem, and the bid, and the fix and see if they could recommend another avenue or another professional that works on windows,” said Deal. “I’d also like to look into the possibility for grants because I know that the windows are a significant historical part of the building.”
Deal asked for approval from her fellow city council members to see what she can find out with her contacts. The council agreed with Deal and will wait for her to bring back any new information for how to proceed on the project.
Planning Commissions members appointed
Two vacancies on the Planning Commission opened up on April 1, 2021. One seat has been held by Dolores Del Campo, who has been active with the commission, and wished to continue. The second name put forth to the city council was Jordan Riley.
The city council approved the motion to move forward with both candidates to fill the expired terms.
Council member compensation clarified
Compensation to the mayor and council is codified in Fort Morgan’s city code, saying what each are paid per month. But, City Manager Steve Glammeyer explained, as a matter of practice for quite some time now, they have offered council members and the mayor the opportunity to receive health insurance benefits should they elect.
This is in accordance with other city employees who might receive the same benefit from time to time.
“We couldn’t really find any place that that was codified and so we thought this was a good opportunity to do that and also to clarify what that meant,” said Glammeyer.
What this means is the mayor and council are offered two or three plans that they can elect to sign up for. It does not mean the city will pay for private health premiums or Medicare premiums or anything of that nature, explained Glammeyer. Those are something that are not incidental to employment to other city employees.
By amending the code this takes care of that clarification and puts in the code what exactly is offered.
“This is meant to memorialize the existing options for council,” said Geoff Wilson, City Attorney. “State law prohibits any increase in benefits during your term of office.”
The city council gave initial approval for the change, and will hold a public hearing on the matter on May 4.
Adjustments to the electric rate
Brent Nation, Director of Utilities and Public Works, addressed the council regarding the Board of the Electric Department and System Enterprise of the City of Fort Morgan.
Nation began by explaining that there are different types of adjustments to rates with gas and electric. If it is an adjustment that stems from a pass-through type of cost, so something that comes directly from the provider, then they are able to come to the council and request a resolution to have the rate adjusted and then pass that on to customers. If any type of adjustment is made on the basis of how many employees or trucks Nation has, then there must a proper rate hearing.
The adjustment Nation brought to the council is considered a pass-through cost from Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN). The adjustment also included a language update to the electric tariff.
“As our world of distributed generation continues to grow around us, putting in solar panels, wind turbines etc., we’ve started to settle on certain languages to use,” said Nation. “When we are in that arena ‘avoided cost’ is the big thing that we start to discuss with customers.”
Customers who use renewable sources such as solar to generate their own power can use net metering, which credits their account for excess energy that is returned to the system.
“We don’t mind people putting solar on their roofs and bringing that onto the system, but there’s a certain cost that we incur just for having them on the system when we aren’t providing them with power. That’s an avoided cost that that customer has to step up and know is going to come off of their credit. This is a cost that we get every year from MEAN.”
Nation explained that there are only a handful of solar customers in Fort Morgan that use this net metering. This cost is that charge and a clean-up of the language for that portion of the electric tariff.
The adjustment proposed is in regard to net metering due to MEAN passing this along now annually. Nation share that MEAN does an analysis every year now since all of their communities are now using solar.
“We don’t discourage people [having solar],” said Nation. “That’s why we let them do it.”
The council approved the resolution to adjust the electric rate for net metering.
The next Fort Morgan City Council meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4 and all are welcome to attend.