BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DONNELLSON – The city staff in Donnellson has some new digs.
The 50-year-old building on Pershing Street looks impeccable with up-to-date security measures, a police wing, offices for city staff, and a kitchen.
The city closed on the building in January for $60,000 and after about four months of renovations finally moved in last week.
Following the city’s regular council and water board meeting on Monday night, City Clerk Rebecca Schau offered a tour of the building.
Schau said the previous city building was deteriorating with poor electrical service and inefficient heating and cooling systems. She said the building sat empty for almost a decade.
“It’s actually been vacant for 10 years. We gutted it and everything is new,” Schau said.
“During the peak months, that building could run up a $500 electric bill. When this came open we were spending $500 a month on the electric bill for a 900 square foot building during peak months. I couldn’t even vacuum without shutting off all the other services.” Schau said.
All the entry points have now have security swipes where you have to have a key to get past the doors.
“That was huge. In the other building, residents could just come right to us, but in today’s world these security issues are needed.”
Public works director Todd Herdrich has an office in the building, as does Schau and a part-time clerk. The south side has a kitchen facility and then the west side of the building is dedicated to police operations.
“People don’t think in a small town like Donnellson things happen. But they do. She said a week ago, a man came in dressed in a bathrobe with his arms tucked inside and wandered around the office and then finally asked what he had to do to be arrested. He was homeless and tired and cold. So security is a huge deal for us.
During the regular meeting the city voted to dissolve the city’s water board and put everything under the control of the city council.
She said a company called Slicker Wells used to run the city’s water service and when they moved out of the city, it came back under the management of the city and it created a separate entity for the water department, creating some bureaucracy.
Schau said having the city conduct all the water department’s business just makes sense and simplifies things.
“The funds will still be separate, but they’ll all be under the umbrella of the city,” she said. “The employees will all be the same, they’ll all have the same jobs this just makes things simpler.
“It does save us in the long run and right now, I do all the waterworks billing by hand. We purchased the city’s accounting system 3 years ago but I can’t add that without paying an additional $2,000 for just the water. So this move eliminates that.”
The city also set a public hearing for a proposal to enter into some General Obligation Loan agreements to borrow money.
The loans will be used to bring Rathbun water into Donnellson. The city took out a loan with USDA, but when they went through that agency a flag went up that the city already had a water revenue loan and the USDA didn’t like the position.
“They were not going to take the back seat to the primary loan the city already had,” Schau said. “So our bond attorney suggested to us to leave the USDA loan as a water revenue loan and then take the water loan we previously had and the city building loan and combine them under a general obligation loan.”