Evart council discusses Néstle, approves pay increase for city clerk

EVART — There’s no way to tell what impact a requested increase by Néstle Waters North America to pump water from a well in Osceola Township will have on future revenue for the city of Evart.

City Manager Zack Szakacs and council members spoke briefly about the company’s request to the state to increase its withdrawal from 150 gallons per minute to 400 GPM at the White Pine Springs production well during the Monday, Nov. 7, council meeting.

Szakacs told council members the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has extended its public comment period until Saturday, Dec. 3, and he’d been asked by many about how additional pumping would affect the city.

“(People) were worried about how much revenue we’re going to lose if they start pumping 400 gallons per minute — if it’s going to decrease our pumping here,” he said. “I told them ‘We don’t know that yet.’”

Szakacs said the well is used by Néstle for specialty waters, and the city isn’t really going to know.

“I don’t think that would impact Evart at all,” council member B.J. Foster added.

“This is Néstle’s thing, and Osceola Township’s thing. This isn’t going to change, as I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”

There is a public hearing set for 7 p.m. on Nov. 29 at the Osceola Township Hall, which Néstle will be on hand to talk with residents.

In other action from Monday’s meeting, the council approved a recommendation from the pay committee to increase the salary of the city clerk. Because the position of clerk is an elected position, a salary increase can be changed only prior to the new term.

The increase, as approved by council members, will be from $14,000 to $20,000 annually.

“There hasn’t been an increase in that position’s salary since 2011,” Szakacs said. “There were some comparisons from $15,000 to $20,000 to $23,000. There is no health insurance or unemployment insurance included. It’s just wages. That’s it.”

City Treasurer Sarah Dvoracek told council members the pay committee decided on the salary following her searching Michigan Municipal League comparisons with 51 other communities similar to Evart in population.

“I could only go with comparisons from cities from 1,000 to 3,000 in size,” she said.

Council members also rejected the only bid the city received for work on the roof of city hall.

The $53,000-bid was more than expected, and the board decided to reopen the bid process in the spring.

Director of Public Works Mark Wilson said he and the contractor looked at the roof.

“He didn’t notice, nor did I, any recent water damage,” he said. “There are signs of older water damage, but there doesn’t appear to be anything that looks threatening at the moment.”

In other news:

  • Szakacs told council members the zoning code for the city will be rewritten between February and May 2017 as part of the Project Rising Tide program. Gov. Rick Snyder’s pilot program has state and local officials work together to develop new strategies for economic prosperity, creating more and better jobs.
  • Wilson explained to council members the recent award of a more than $1 million Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) program grant will have officials meet with architect’s to determine which geographic information systems (GIS) to use for the city.
  • The city manager told the city council the community assessment agenda will be delayed until after the election and the new members can determine a schedule.
  • Council members approved renewal of the health insurance policy for non-union employees.
  • Council member Gregg Sherman expressed his appreciation to his cohorts, as he completed his final meeting on the board.

The next Evart City Council meeting is slated for 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 21, at city hall, located at 200 S. Main St.