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Lennox holds open house at Waste Water Treatment Facility; 2018 audit report avilable

Lennox Council held their final regular meeting of the month on Sept. 23, 2019.

One visitor to be heard wanted the council to be aware of the gas lines that have been broken during construction. Councilmen confirmed that had happened nine times.

The public hearing was then opened for the North Cedar Street Assessment Roll.

The project includes gravel base course, asphalt surfacing and labor. The project is being done at the request of the homeowners who petitioned the City. With no one to speak against the Assessment Roll council closed the public hearing.

Minutes of the Sept. 9 and Sept. 15 meetings were approved. Claims were approved.

Audrea Buller presented a library report to the council. She stated that the Lennox Community Library would be receiving a tablet at no charge from the South Dakota State Library as part of a project that helps track the use of the city’s library wireless internet access. The library report was approved.

Jeremy Gulbranson, Utilities Superintendent provided his report to the council. He said that he would base his report on the top three priorities, which he listed as street improvements, operations and procedure and collection and the Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF).

He noted that there was to be an open house at the WWTF on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 4 to 7 p.m. It was scheduled as an opportunity for the public to see how the facility operates to create cleaner effluent to Long Creek, as well as an opportunity to ask questions of staff regarding the costs and benefits of a mechanical wastewater treatment facility. Lennox made the switch from a lagoon treatment system to a mechanical wastewater facility in order to meet new clean water standards issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Since that time, the facility has continued to make improvements in an effort to meet all regulatory requirements.

Gulbranson also noted that he would like to make a few modifications to the street plan to provide more consistency and suggested a more methodical approach in road maintenance.

Gulbranson also stated that his time at the National Public Works Conference was well spent and he brought a lot of great information home. The public works report was approved.

The second reading of Ordinance 595 was approved; the ordinance states all members of the City Planning and Zoning Commission shall own property or reside within the City of Lennox municipal boundaries.

The second reading of Ordinance 599 was approved. This sets the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations. The approved budget will be published in the newspaper in October.

Council denied a motion to extend the Manufactured Home Park License for Dakota Avenue Apartments, LLC by 90 days.

City Administrator Nate Vander Plaats said that since the approval of the conditional license (90 days ago) for Dakota Avenue Apartments, LLC, he has met with the owners on separate occasions. His last conversation with the owners occurred on the day that they received a favorable legal judgment against a tenant.

Vander Plaats said, “This action was a big step in the right direction, as it will give the owners the opportunity to take possession of several of the homes most in need of repairs and maintenance. An abandoned home has also been demolished and removed, and improvements have been made to the grounds. There remains a significant amount of work to be done on these homes, but I am pleased that progress continues to be made.”

Council members expressed concern over the time it has taken and the trailers that the park owned specifically.

Councilman Chad Wulf said, “This is an unfortunate situation for some of the residents that are doing the right thing. This has been going on for a long time.”

Council was in agreement that the issue should be on the agenda at a later meeting with the property owner present for questions.

Under new business Council listened to a presentation from HR Green Engineering. The company has more than 475 employees located nationally, and currently serves nine states with 15 locations, one of those in Sioux Falls, SD.

Council approved resolution #2019-09-23-01 levying the assessment for the North Cedar Street improvement. City Administrator Vander Plaats said that the city dollars going in to the project include $12,395.67.

Council approved the motion to proceed with security installation at the WWTF and Rubble Site with a total cost not to exceed $4000. Councilman Chad Reilly abstained from the vote.

The City of Lennox Rubble Site will be open 24 hours per day starting October 1, 2019.

Council next took a look at the 2018 Independent Audit.

Schoenfish & Co. performed an audit of the City of Lennox’s 2018 financial statements. The draft audit was discussed with Schoenfish at a Finance Committee Meeting on August 20, 2019.

Vander Plaats reported, “Overall, the audit was a positive experience for all involved, and resulted in two current findings, as summarized on Pages 4 and 5 of the Audit Report. It is important to note that the City will be adjusting back to an accrual basis form of accounting in Fiscal Year 2020, which will help clarify assets and liabilities, as well as separate capital expenditures from operating expenditures.”

The two findings included:

A material weakness in internal controls was noted due to a lack of proper segregation of duties for revenues.

Expenditures were in excess of the amounts budgeted in several departments in the General Fund and Baseball Fund.

The entire PDF of the audit is available here.

Councilman Greg Poppenga said he would like to see the audit discussion in front of the entire council.

Council accepted the audit as presented 4-1 with Poppenga voting nay, citing there was no presentation of the audit.

Council approved the ACH agreement with Valley Exchange Bank. The City of Lennox uses Valley Exchange Bank for processing payroll payments to employees and officers of the municipality.

Council approved a motion rescheduling the first October Regular City Council Meeting to October 15 due to the Native American Day holiday on Oct. 14.

Council adjourned.

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