Wrase named New Ulm Utilities Director

NEW ULM – The New Ulm Public Utilities Commission (NUPUC) Thursday unanimously approved the appointment of Patrick Wrase as Utilities Director effective Jan. 4, 2014.

Currently the NUPUC Planning and Development Engineer, Wrase replaces Utilities Director Gary Gleisner who will retire on Dec. 31. Wrase will serve a three-month intra-organizational promotion probationary period with initial compensation at the 5th year rate for the position. Successful probation completion results in an adjustment to the 6th year rate and a $470 monthly vehicle allowance. Position compensation rates were not available at the meeting.

In 2013, Gleisner’s annual salary was $103,750.40 and Wrase’s was $93,724,80, according to the City of New Ulm Finance Office.

Earning civil engineering and infrastructure systems engineering degrees at the University of Minnesota, Wrase worked as City of Minneapolis engineer from 2001 to 2004 before coming to New Ulm.

New Ulm City Manager Brian Gramentz said Wrase would continue his planning and development engineer duties besides his utilities director work for the time being. “We’ll reorganize due to Patrick Wrase’s strengths,” Gramentz said. “We may bring in another engineer at a later date.”

In other business, the PUC authorized:

Decreasing the City/ PUC’s mileage reimbursement rate to 56 cents a mile effective Jan. 1, 2014, concurrent with the mileage rate set by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Adoption of the NUPUC 2014 Annual Budget projecting $2,854,853 net income. All divisions except Information Technology project positive net margins. The budget includes a 2.5 percent labor rate increase and a $2 million inter-fund loan from the Gas Division to Electric Division to fund North Side Substation recommended capital projects.

A District Energy Division unrestricted cash reduction is planned for steam distribution line reconstruction. No 2014 rate increases are anticipated.

Health insurance premiums are programmed to increase about 23 percent for the year. Long-term capital projects include low-pressure steam main replacements and upgrades from 2014 to 2018 and new wells with adequate water supply.

The budget anticipates $2,336,294 net operating income and $2,854,853 net income after non-operating revenue and transfers; a 3.01 debt service coverage ratio; and $15,868,092 unrestricted cash reserves; or 141 percent of target project reserves as recommended by financial analysts for the utility’s AA2 credit rating.

A 2.0 percent general wage adjustment for non-union, full-time employees with no benefit changes, effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Change Order 1 and 2 for the three million gallon water reservoir repair project contract with TMI Coatings, Inc. The completion date was extended from Nov. 4, 2013 to April 30, 2014 due to more extensive concrete repair work and cooler than planned working temperatures for exterior acrylic coating application.

The concrete repair depths were greater than expected by project design consultant KLM Engineering, requiring more labor and repair materials increasing the $159,500 contract by $5,434 to $164,934.

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