Council hikes City Hall rental fees

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – There are very few things that haven’t gone up in price over the past three decades.

You can take the cost of renting meeting space at City Hall off that list.

The City Council approved an increase in rental rates for City Hall Tuesday, the first increase since the 1980s, according to City Clerk/Treasurer Patty Huberty.

Huberty said that Public Works Director/City Engineer Bill Immich had been in charge of handling rentals at City Hall over the years, but since he has moved his office to the Plymouth Utilities Operations Center, that responsibility has fallen on the clerk/treasurer’s office.

When the office began checking into the rules and regulations, Huberty said, they discovered that the rates had not been increased since the 1980s.

Most of the fees were increased $10 in the ordinance. The fees will go from $20 to $30 for the third floor assembly room, $15 to $20 for room 305 and $5 to $15 for room 201. The council chambers (room 302) will also be available to rent for $25 a day.

Huberty said the ordinance was based on similar ones from New Holstein and Prairie du Chien.

The rooms at City Hall are available to rent during regular business hours, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Huberty noted that City Hall space had been available to rent at night in the past, but that the city no longer has a night custodian on duty in the building.

“Consideration is being given to special use on nights and weekends, if requested,” Huberty said. But that will be dependent on whether a custodian is available for the time requested and will be subject to an additional charge to pay the custodian’s wages.

“We will also coordinate updating the reservation form and have a better process and a more updated process,” Huberty added.

She said non-profit and charitable civic organizations will be able to use rooms at City Hall one time a month without a charge.

The council approved a $38,960 contract with Donohue and Associates of Sheboygan to provide engineering services for the high strength waste receiving tanks for the biogas/micro turbine project at the Plymouth Utilities wastewater treatment plant.

Immich told the council that Donohue will be looking to ensure a tank design that will withstand the highly-corrosive nature of the high strength wastes better.

The $1.1 million biogas project is designed to generate electricity using biogas created from the waste products from local cheese factory. The electricity generated can be used to help power the treatment plant.

Alderman Jim Sedlacek told his council colleagues that the Public Works and Utilities Committee has been following the project closely through all of the phases.

“We’re trying to make it right the first time around, which is important,” Sedlacek commented. He said the expected payback for the project is five to seven years.

Immich explained that the waste product from the cheese process can be highly corrosive.

The city of Sheboygan has been using similar waste for biogas and electricity generation for 10 years, according to Immich, and in that time the waste material has corroded two inches of concrete off the tank walls.

“The storage tank is what we’re designing right now,” Immich said. “We’re thinking we’ll be putting in a 40,000-gallon tank.”

He estimated that the facility should receive about 10,000 gallons of waste a day, but some of that would have to be stored over weekends and other times when the plant is not in operation.

Immich conceded that the engineering costs were not part of the original cost projection for the overall project. But he added that some other parts of the project have come in under budget, so he remains confident the total project should be close to the original estimate when it’s completed.

The council approved hiring a new clerk for the municipal court. Current clerk Sheryl Fellows is leaving the job later this month.

City Administrator Brian Yerges explained that Fellows spends 18-20 hours a week doing municipal court work and another 10-12 hours a week doing records work for the Police Department.

He said the city will advertise for candidates for the municipal court position, but if they can find someone who is interested in filling both jobs for 30 hours or less a week, they could go that way.

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