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home : news : city news May 25, 2016

7/11/2014 7:30:00 AM
City panel wants to renegotiate agreement with library

Marcus Nesemann

A discussion Tuesday about the city of Rhinelander's administrative cost allocation plan for 2015 and 2016 led members of the city's Finance, Wage and Salary Committee to request a renegotiation of the agreement between the city and the Rhinelander District Library.

The allocation plan is determined every two years. The city sets the amounts it will charge in administrative fees to city entities, such as the airport and the library.

"We did it for two years last time. It's a lot of work to do and a lot of communication and input for the other jurisdictions and such, so we're giving ourselves a two-year plan," city administrator Blaine Oborn explained.

There aren't a lot of changes from year to year, as most of the proposed allocations stay the same, however the question of what to charge the library has led the committee members to request a renegotiation of the agreement between the city and the library.

At present, the agreement does not allow the city to charge the library for accounting and related services, however that may change.

According to an email from Oborn to library officials, "if the city had the ability to charge for accounting and related services, the calculated amount would be $38,926 per year for 2015 and 2016. There is a possibility that the committee may propose negotiating a change in the agreement to do so."

While the agreement, which has been in place for over 30 years, doesn't allow the city to charge the library for accounting services - it states the city will "provide accounting, bookkeeping and payroll services ... at no additional charge" - the city can direct bill for other services.

As part of the proposed cost allocation plan, the city would direct charge the library for worker's compensation insurance, property insurance, liability insurance, boiler and machinery insurance and the employee assistance program.

"We're not picking on the library. It's the same way we do it for the airport," Oborn said.

A motion was made to approve the plan, however the committee members said it is crucial that negotiations with the library begin soon.

The current agreement is in place through 2015. It is automatically renewed unless is the City Council takes action.

"There's not a definitive end. It just says every 10 years to re-evaluate. So, if we don't re-evaluate, it just continues," Oborn said.

Committee chairman Mark Pelletier said the direct charges should remain, but the agreement should be revisited.

"These charges are appropriate, they are charges that the city is getting right now that need to be passed along. As for anything else, I think that becomes an issue of if we want to look at the contract," he said.

Committee member Alex Young said the negotiations should take place sooner rather than later.

"If we're going to do this, the complaint that we've had on other issues involving this is that we've sort of sprung it on people at the last minute, not giving anybody any time to think about it," he said.

"If we're going to do this and we want to allocate those costs, the more notice that we can possibly give and the more time that we can possibly give to negotiate this thing out, the better, so it may not make sense to wait a whole heck of a lot longer."

The other library district members, the towns of Crescent, Newbold, Pine Lake and Pelican, must also be notified, he added

"If we're bringing multiple townships as well as all the city and all the rigmarole that involves to the table to negotiate this, the sooner we give that notice the better as far as I'm concerned," he said.

Pelletier agreed, noting that a sense of urgency can be included in the motion.

"We can include that (in the motion), that it's time to take a look at the contract to see if there should be any renegotiation or not, but otherwise, the present existing numbers should be as is," he said.

The committee unanimously approved the motion.

Accident payments

In other business, the panel approved recommending payment of two claims against the city.

The first claim is the result of an accident between a Rhinelander squad car and another motor vehicle.

Police Chief Mike Steffes explained the situation.

"On Sunday, June 8, officer Chad Brown was on patrol. He was northbound on Stevens Street and he observed a vehicle coming at a high rate of speed and he clocked the vehicle and the vehicle was definitely speeding," Steffes explained.

"He decided to perform a traffic stop (and) pulled off to the side of the road. As the vehicle passed, he keyed on the vehicle, started to initiate his U-turn. When he pulled off, he saw a vehicle behind him but it was pretty far back so he made his U-turn, did not look into his mirror or over his shoulder and banged into the front of the car."

The repairs to the squad car cost about $900, Steffes said, but the repairs to the other car were estimated at $3,605.75. No injuries were reported in the accident.

"What we have here is a claim for repairs and damage to this person's vehicle. It's pretty cut and dry. Accidents do happen," Pelletier said.

The second claim is for a windshield that was broken at Hodag Park while city workers were weed-whacking in the area.

Oborn explained the circumstances surround the claim.

"This is one where the employees were weed-whacking in the area. Nobody actually saw the windshield get hit, but I think the circumstantial evidence kind of leans towards [sic] that," he said, adding that preventative measures will be put in place to ensure this doesn't happen again.

"Normally they don't like to be in an area with cars, but because of the (Fourth of July) they took a little bit more chance. There are preventative measures (to be put in place) ... because it seems like we've paid a few of these, but we do a lot of weed-whacking. We definitely want to minimize it."

The estimated cost of the damages is $236.90.

Pelletier had the same reaction to this claim.

"Once again, accidents happen. They were down on (July 3) getting everything fancied up for the Fourth," he said.

Both claims were approved unanimously.

Marcus Nesemann may be reached at

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