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Routine meeting avoids addressing laundry list of primary election errors

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 9/13/18

TOWER— The city council here, minus Mayor Josh Carlson, handled mostly routine business Monday night, but never addressed an Aug. 24 letter from St. Louis County officials that laid out a laundry …

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Routine meeting avoids addressing laundry list of primary election errors

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TOWER— The city council here, minus Mayor Josh Carlson, handled mostly routine business Monday night, but never addressed an Aug. 24 letter from St. Louis County officials that laid out a laundry list of errors in the city’s Aug. 14 primary election. The county required that city election officials undergo re-training in elections procedure on Sept. 13, but the city council has yet to take any public action on the election breakdown.

Instead, the council handled a number of pay estimates for ongoing projects and approved the purchase of a motorized cot for the city’s ambulance service. They also motioned to hold off on sidewalk repairs on South Second Street until the work could be incorporated into a larger city-wide sidewalk project.

In addition, the council heard, at length, from Jim Batton, a resident of Breitung Township, who is billed for municipal sewer by the city of Tower even though he only receives city water and he was asking to have his charge adjusted. The discussion of the issue consumed half an hour, with the council eventually tabling the request for further consideration by a full council.

Just months earlier, the council had changed the city’s utility billing policies to charge one lump fee for every account, and Batton’s request was the first to test the city’s resolve in implementing that new policy.

In other business, the council questioned the call volume registered in the police report. “These numbers, at least to me, appear to be winter numbers,” said Acting Mayor Kevin Fitton, who said he hasn’t noticed many Breitung squads in town over the summer and that many cars are failing to slow down as they head through town.

“I have received quite a few complaints that I’ll need to talk to Dan [Chief Nylund] about, for speeding specifically on Main Street,” said City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith. “It is getting out of control.”

The police report listed a total of 271 calls, which was the highest number for the year, according to 2018 police reports reviewed by the Timberjay. The call volume ranged from 46 in January, 81 in March, 104 in April, 119 in May, 205 in June, and 235 in July. But Altenburg questioned the nature of the calls in August. “Are these serious calls or are these ‘my cat’s in a tree’ calls?” he asked. The report also listed eight citations or arrests, including a 5th degree possession stop in which charges were requested. The number of citations or arrests in previous months totaled three in January, five in March, four in April, 13 in May, three in June, and eight in July.

In other action, the council:

 Approved the installation of a ventilation system for the D’Erick’s Liquor Store.

 Approved the purchase of a new Striker motorized cot for the city’s ambulance service, at a cost of just over $15,000. Ambulance director Steve Altenburg told the council that the item was a “demo model” and that the company was offering it at a discount.

 Heard from Altenburg, who told the council that ambulance runs are up by 63 over the same period last year. Based on the run breakdown, roughly half of the increase is coming from accepting additional transfers. Altenburg said the rate of transfers is slightly above what is necessary to cover the cost of the new paid on-call system. Even so, Altenburg said the on-call staff is often bored. “They’d like more calls,” he said. “Short of going out and tripping little old ladies, I can’t really do much [to accommodate them].”

‰ Approved the second pay estimate for Lenci Enterprises for work on the TEDA industrial park building for Lamppa Manufacturing. The total payment due was $30,210.

‰ Approved the final pay estimate to Utility Systems of America for the utility work at the Hoodoo Point Campground. The final payment was $36,134.

‰ Approved hangar lease transfers from Richard Anderson to David and Michelle Anderson as well as the purchase of a second hangar by Brian Schanche, who operates Adventure Seaplanes.

‰ Approved a list of election judges for the Nov. 6 general election.

‰ Accepted an airport grant for minor planned upgrades at the airport. Total cost the project is not to exceed $95,070, with the federal government to pay 90 percent of the cost. The state and the city will split the remaining ten percent.

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