Utility board considers proposal to build new warehouse

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Marshall Municipal Utilities Board of Public Works met Tuesday, April 1, to discuss the need for a warehouse north of the Distribution Center, located at the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 65 and Highway 20.

Administrative Services Director Ken Gieringer asked the board to approve an estimated $5,000 project for core drilling.

In order to design the correct foundation for a steel building to serve the purpose of a warehouse, MMU needs to obtain requests for soil bores to get information on the conditions of the soil and what would have to be done to make it a sturdy foundation.

"We have had a lot of fill out there," Gieringer said. Several types of soils have been dumped there over the years, according to Underground Facilities Foreman Randy Huesgen.

Gieringer said it would be about a year down the road before construction would begin. In-house work would be utilized when available. Gieringer said the Distribution Center was mostly built by in-house labor.

"Everything but heating/cooling and erecting the building was done in-house," Huesgen said.

MMU has been looking at the option of building a warehouse with more storage space for equipment and materials for the past several years.

"I'm not convinced we need this at this time," said President Spencer Fricke. "We have a lot of expensive projects going on and we're raising rates."

"I would like to hear arguments that we have to build it (now)," said Jim Heinzler, board member.

Heinzler said MMU needed this building 10 to 12 years ago and it has been postponed this long, one more year is okay. He wants to get other much-needed projects done prior to starting this one.

"I think we should wait at least one year before starting a project of this magnitude," Fricke said.

The project has been tabled for another year to allow for other major projects to be completed prior to starting another one.

In other business, Employee Relations Manager Megan Baldridge asked the board to consider changing a policy regarding vacation time for workers at MMU.

MMU employees are only allowed 260 hours of vacation time, which is a little over 32 eight-hour days. Employees going over that amount must use it or lose it.

"There are some situations that arise when they have vacations planned and we have to call it off," Baldridge said. There have been a few situations in the past because of lack of manpower that employees have had to cancel vacations. And there is one on the table now.

Baldridge suggested the department directors have the option of allowing the employee to temporarily exceed over 260 hours or pay them strait time.

Both Heinzler and Fricke asked if it could be left up to the employees. Baldridge said the department directors would have a better idea if the employee would be able to take vacation time in the near future. An upcoming project that would need the employee may cause the person's vacation to be canceled again, she said.

Baldridge said the directors would talk with the employee and find the best route for the problem at hand. The directors would also consult with General Manager Kyle Gibbs before the decision is finalized.

The ideal situation is to "get this corrected in one or two pay periods," Baldridge said.

The board approved allowing the department directors to make the decision if employees were unable to keep their vacation time under 260 hours because a schedule vacation was canceled due to lack of personnel.

Contact Rachel Harper at marshallcity@socket.net

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