BELOIT CITY COUNCIL – Wednesday, August 16, 2023

By Terry Bailey

The issue of removal of lime from the City lagoons was a hot topic at the Beloit City Council meeting Wednesday night, August 16.
The City Lagoons were constructed in 1974 and have been collecting material since that time. They have never been cleaned out since their construction. The cleaning is in preparation for the new water treatment system.
In early 2022 water department staff began making attempts to contact potential contractors for the removal of lime from the City's lagoon. They did not find any bidders. Next the City Manager and the City Engineer were recruited in attempting to locate possible contractors. Three contractors were identified with two expressing no interest in the project. The third contractor, Pumphrey Contracting of Mankato expressed interest in doing the work.
City staff entered into discussions with Pumphrey regarding price and terms of a possible agreement. Pumphrey presented a contract to the City Manager on or about November 16, 2022, for his company to clean out up to 45,000 cubic yards of lime for $180,000.
City staff decided at this time that this kind of work is a specialized project and, with no success recruiting contractor's bids, they would not pursue competitive bidding for the work and awarded the work to Pumphreys.
On December 7, 2022 the action was tabled for further study. From December of 2022 to June of 2023 the City negotiated with Pumphrey about the details of a contract. Ultimately a contract was negotiated between the City and Pumphrey Trucking to completely remove the lime from the lagoons and return them to their original specifications, for the price of $100,000.
There have been questions about the ownership of the lime once it is removed from the lagoons. The agreement between the City of Beloit and Pumphrey Tucking has a mutual understanding that Pumphrey is the owner of lime once it is loaded onto his trucks.
Eric Dunstan take Umbridge with this saying that from his study of the contract there is no mention of who ones the lime. He believes the understanding mentioned by the City is just that, an understanding and has no legal standing. He believes that the City can honor the contract by allowing Pumphrey to remove the lime and have it dumped in a feasible location. Then, the lime can be sold in a competitive or fair market value. The City contends they are not the owner of the lime once it is loaded onto Pumphrey's trucks and have no interest in storing or selling the material or further discussion of this matter.
In her statement Schroeder acknowledges that Dunstan Trucking is disappointed in how this situation played out. She contends the City did the best they could with the information that was available to them at the time. She assured Dunstan's that things might have been done differently but there was no malintent of the part of anyone that was a part of the process.
Schroeder summed up her comments by saying procurement, contract negotiations, bidding procedures and policies are being reviewed by city staff. Competitive bidding procedures will the implemented in the future by the City staff and governing body.
In the time provided for public comment Tyler, Terri, and Eric Dunstan addressed the Council. Tyler reviewed the process of milling lime from a ledge of rock in Jewell County and the process of preparing it for application to crop land. Dunstan's have been doing this work for many years and have become very proficient in the application of lime.
Terri Dunstan said she was curious about the bidding process and wondered why they did not have an opportunity to bid on the job. She paused and awaited a comment from any of the City officials. No response was forthcoming. She also commented that it was her understanding that this was Pumphrey's first attempt at spreading lime on farm ground. She said that spreading lime takes a great understanding of the process and applying too much lime will hurt the soil for a number of years.
Eric Dunstan said he had sent an email to the Council members and staff with an alternative method of removing and utilizing the product. At this point nobody has responded to his communication.
At this time, Mayor Tom Naasz announced that, while Eric Dunstan still had much to say, the time for public comment had elapsed and will move on to the next topic.
One question is unclear - Why did Dunstan Trucking not have an opportunity to bid on the job? It seems other contractors near and far were individually contacted by City staff recruiting them for the job of which they were not interested. Dunstan's, a local business, known for their work spreading agricultural lime was apparently passed over with the competitive bidding process being abandoned for this job.
The Council urged everyone to be extra cautious with the start of the new school year. They took note of the tragic death of an eight-year-old child and she ran into the street and was fatally struck by a school bus. Parents should remind their children only to enter the streets at designated area and for them to always look both ways before entering the street.
Emily Benedick updated the Council on many projects she is working on. Benedick and the Council discussed a proposal for the Council to enter an understanding committing $150,000 toward the construction of Willow Spring Park downtown.
Councilor Tony Gengler noted that hole in the ground and the open space is an eyesore, and he supports filling in the hole to street level but he has concerns about spending all that money when the other parks are need of repair. He was in favor of fixing what we have instead building a new one. Councilor Gretchen Staples seconded Gengler's concern. After a brief discussion, Councilor Lee McMillian suggested tabling the topic for additional study.
Beloit Chief of Police Chad Lackey gave his quarterly report to the Council. In May, June, and July, the department responded to 718 calls and made 378 traffic stops. The response time for calls was 5.33 minutes. Lackey said the domestic battery cases are usually at the top of the reason for calls.
A public hearing for discussion of the 2024 budget was opened. Three people were on hand and had specific questions about tax statements. The Acting City Manager displayed a graphic when pointed out the out of every dollar collected in taxes 47 cents goes to the County, 28 cents to the City, and 22 cents goes to the School District.
Ordinance 2332 regarding the usual Standard Traffic Ordinance was approved.
Ordinance 2333 addressing the Uniform Public Offense Code was passed.
Ordinance 2334 concerning the adoption of the Flood Plain Management plan was approved.
With no one appearing to speak for or against the 2024 budget, it was unanimously passed.
An expenditure of two projects, one for $38,700 and the other for $22,900 for work by Schwab Eaton was approved.