Board: Lewiston City Council

Met: Tuesday night

Union deals

Issue: Councilors asked the city’s union employees to delay their regularly scheduled cost-of-living increases for six months in the upcoming budget as a way to keep down costs.

The scoop: So far, four of the city’s six unions have agreed to some cost-cutting changes to their labor contracts. City Administrator Jim Bennett suggested adding language that would give those employees back raises if they are laid off.

Up next: Saying they were not willing to encumber future councils, councilors voted against the agreements. The change would have saved $300,000.

Running late

Issue: Previous councils adopted a 10 p.m. curfew to keep meetings from running late. Councilors must vote to continue meeting past that time.

The scoop: With 21 items on Tuesday’s agenda, getting their work done on time was difficult. At 10 p.m., they still had four items on the agenda.

Councilors voted to extend the meeting, finishing all 21 items. They wrapped up the meeting at 11:30 p.m.

Public comment

Issue: The city currently takes public comments from residents and other people attending council meetings at the end of the meeting, under the “other city business” listing.

The scoop: Mayor Larry Gilbert suggested councilors adopt a 15-minute public comment period at the beginning of every meeting, allowing residents to discuss items that are not scheduled for discussion.

Up next: Councilors voted to make a 15-minute public comment period policy for the next three months. Then, they’ll re-evaluate it.

Councilors also formalized the regular meeting agenda, putting language governing the order of business into the City Council’s rules.

UV water cleaning

Issue: Lewiston and Auburn currently treat their water supply with a chlorine/ammonia mixture but hope to begin supplementing that with an ultraviolet system. UV systems pump water through cylinders containing high-powered ultraviolet light bulbs. Systems being considered for Lake Auburn would be able to treat up to 16 million gallons per day.

The scoop: Twin Cities water district officials said their UV plan has been funded by the state under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Federal stimulus money will pay for most of the $7.7 million project, including no-interest loans and grants. Lewiston is expected to save $3.2 million because of the grants.

Up next: Councilors approved a $2.7 million bond issue to pay for its share of the work.

Councilors also approved an $857,000 bond to pay for a $1.2 million storm-sewer separation project. The balance of that project is being paid with federal stimulus money, as well.


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