Was just reading the Wikipedia page for Biola University, the small California institution where Sen. John Thune did his undergraduate studies.
Also noticed Kermit Staggers, Ehrisman’s favorite politician, is cited as a Wikipedia source on the history of Biola.
So that’s weird.
Mayor Mike Huether has appointed Richard Birath and Nathan Christopherson to the Veterans’ Memorial Park Advisory Board.
Birath, according to comments (pdf) submitted to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 2008, worked at at Citibank and Premier Bankcard for three decades. Huether spent 15 years at Premier.
Sewage is discharged into the Big Sioux River at the lift station near the north side of the zoo Aug. 5, 2010, after a sewage line break. (Emily Spartz / Argus Leader)
The city audit board meets Thursday to discuss recent audits of the library, utility and water programs.
Library (pdf) and utility (pdf) came out pretty clean. The water department audit (pdf), which looked at water main breaks per mile, system leakage and fiscal stability, is the news here.
Overall, the water system audit found the system — 950 miles of water mains, 19,000 valves, 7,000 fire hydrants and 49,000 meters — generally in good condition. The number of breaks per mile and the amount of water lost to system leakage is below the industry average, and the department has plenty of cash in reserve.
Still, the audit found some room for improvement.
For instance, the 2008 audit found that one employee is in charge of inventory for plant supplies, ordering new parts and also adjusting inventory based on new orders. This arrangement, say the auditors, “puts an employee in a position to both misappropriate an asset and cover it up.”
“We would like to emphasize that we have no reason to believe that this is happening or has happened,” the auditors wrote.
After discussing the matter with water managers during the last audit, however, they concluded that segregating these duties wouldn’t be practical because of staffing levels. And anyway, it would be pretty tough to fence water plant equipment.
Nevertheless, the audit recommends that management “develop and implement a compensating control.” Utility operations manager Trent Lubbers responded in a memo (pdf) that they will include more people in approving the daily count sheet and add random inventory checks.
- Drought benefits the department financially. “Water fund benefits in years of little rain as they sell large quantities of water to property owners to water their lawns.” This is important because the water department is building its cash reserves to pay down $43 million in debt owed on the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System over the next decade.
- E-billing is becoming more popular. In 2011, some 10,000 water customers used e-billing. In 2012, that number jumped to 19,000.
- The city will begin a water meter testing program this year, as suggested in the 2008 audit; $40,000 has been set aside in the OCEP budget.
- The 2008 audit also recommended a valve-exercising program to check corrosion. This would save time in an emergency. The problem here, as both auditors and water managers recognize, is that it can also be risky to have a valve exercising program — valves might break when they’re being exercised, which would result in service disruptions. Ultimately the auditors say: Go for it! Lubbers responds that, at the current rate of valve operation — 2,000 a year — they could hit that target in a decade.
- Some 900 of the city’s 7,000 fire hydrants (13 percent) are privately owned. The 2008 audit suggested passing an ordinance to ensure access to and maintenance of these private hydrants. Instead, the fire protection engineer will review private hydrants this year and inform owners of their responsibilities.
Sioux Falls saw a 3 percent drop in code violations from 2011 to 2012, according to enforcement data presented Tuesday to the City Council.
Kevin Smith, assistant director of planning and building services for the city, said the code enforcement division opened 5,760 cases in 2012 and found 4,889 violations (the remainder were judged invalid).
Three-quarters of those violations were resolved before a citation was issued; all told, the city collected $173,719 in fines.
By comparison, in 2011 the city opened 7,893 code enforcement cases and found 5,042 violations. About 88 percent of those violations were resolved before a citation was issued, and the city collected $164,524.
Update: Smith sends over total violations for 2009 (3,927) and 2010 (4,805).