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|Paynesville Press - February 16, 2005|
City changes notification process
The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 9.|
*The council approved changing the notification process before shutting off water service for non-payment. Currently, the city sends two past-due notices to the property owner of record and then police personally deliver the cut-off notices. The whole process takes about 65 days from the bill's due date.
Recently, police chief Kent Kortlever requested that the city begin charging a paper-serving fee for notices his department delivers, as it takes officers away from their other duties. Instead of charging a fee, the city opted to change the way shut-off notices are delivered.
In the future, the city will send two notices to the property owner. The first will give a time and date of shut-off if payment isn't made. The second notice will serve as a reminder before water is actually shut-off. The police will no longer deliver notices and the whole process should take about 20 days from the bill's due date.
Water and sewer are billed quarterly and the change will be in effect for the next billing cycle starting in late March.
City officials felt that, under the old system, many residents were simply waiting to pay their bills. Under the old system, the city sent an average of 100 first notices during each billing cycle. Then about 50 second late-notices were sent, and the police delivered 10 to 12 shut-off notices. According to the city, only a couple residents have had their water service shut off in the past 10 years due to payment failures.
*The council approved applying for a $20,000 DNR grant to make improvements to the shelters at Veteran's Memorial Park again and set a public hearing - as required by the grant application - for Wednesday, March 9, at 6:30 p.m.
The city has applied for the grant, and has been turned down, for the past three years. If the matching grant is not awarded this year, the council recommended moving ahead with the project at the park at the city's expense.
*The council heard a verbal report from public works director Ron Mergen regarding other goals of the park and tree committee.
The park committee recommends building a park on approximately 14 acres of city property located south of Highway 55 near the Ampe Development. The property, near a city well field, is currently rented for agriculture, but the lease is due to expire, said Mergen.
The park committee also proposed eliminating lifeguards at the beach at Veteran's Memorial Park because of a decline in the number of swimmers and the difficulty in finding qualified lifeguards.
The park committee also would like to add a fishing pier at Veteran's Memorial Park, said Mergen. The DNR would provide the pier, which would be valued at about $20,000, while the city would be responsible for building and maintaining a handicap-accessible path to the pier. If the city agrees, the pier could be added in 2006, said Mergen.
*The council reviewed the city's comprehensive plan and addressed some areas of concern and some ideas for the city's future growth.
City administrator Steve Helget explained that the planning and zoning commission had already reviewed the comprehensive plan and made a few suggestions.
The commission recommended that the city consider using old airport property for expanding the Industrial Park. According to Helget, about 20 acres would be available, and the city already owns it, said Helget, which would eliminate the need to purchase property. Also, most of the proposed routes for Highway 23 would make the property easily accessible to trucks and commercial vehicles while keeping them out of downtown.
The planning and zoning commission also recommended the city begin looking for more housing options for residents. While single-family housing units have continued to grow, rental units are still in demand, said Helget.
The commission also supports building a park near the Ampe Development.
*The council reviewed its goals for 2005 as established during a special city council meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 19. The council agreed that the city ordinance prohibiting crossing double yellow lines to park downtown should be reconsidered and that other parking ordinances should be reviewed, especially the ordinance that prohibits parking overnight in the downtown area. Council member Jean Soine pointed out that people who live downtown often have difficulty providing parking for overnight guests.
The council also discussed adding an extra officer to the Paynesville Police Department to help provide 24-hour police coverage. Kortlever pointed out that adding a fifth officer would help in scheduling, eliminate on-call time, and provide faster service. The council also discussed hiring a part-time officer and sharing an officer with another city.
The council also discussed the need to have a long-term orderly annexation agreement with Paynesville Township and using the old airport property for expanding the Industrial Park.
*The council heard a verbal report from council member Jeff Bertram, who is also chairman of the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail, regarding the joint trails agreement with Paynesville Township. During its last meeting, the city approved hiring SEH to provide engineering services for for the section of the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail from the city to the city beach and approved awarding trail engineering and planning services to SEH for $72,000. The deal came with the stipulation that SEH provide estimates at little or no cost for the next state grant application.
As a stipulation of the joint powers agreement, Paynesville Township also needs to approve SEH's engineering proposal before it is accepted. According to Bertram, township officials believe the proposal is too high and want to solicit other estimates before awarding the job. Bertram checked into the matter, and found some preliminary estimates that were much lower, he said. He would like to solicit more proposals before awarding the engineering.
According to city attorney Bill Spooner, the city does not have to take bids for engineering services and could hire SEH regardless of the proposal price. And while asking for new proposals is legal, it may be unfair to the companies who have already submitted estimates that have been made public.
Mayor Jeff Thompson wanted to award the job to SEH, as they offered the lowest of the two proposals submitted. "We asked for proposals; we got them; that should be it," he said.
Council member Tom Lindquist said he was inclined to let the township hash out the matter, with most of the council agreeing.
*The council approved ordering a feasibility report regarding the city's 2006 street improvement project. Part of the city's long-term street improvement plan, in 2006 the city plans to improve Augusta Avenue (from Main Street to First Street); the entire length of Koronis Court; South Street (from Lake Avenue to about 150 feet east of Morningside Avenue); Pomeroy Avenue (from Hoffman Street to South Street); Koronis Avenue (from Mill Street to Hoffman Street); and Washburne Avenue (from Mill Street to Hoffman Street).
During the project, the streets would be resurfaced with new curbs and gutters, and water mains and service lines, sanitary sewer mains and service lines, and storm sewers would be upgraded.
In addition, Central Avenue would be overlayed for approximately 650 feet.
*The council approved a payment of $26,523 to Duinick Brothers, Inc., for work completed on the 2004 street improvement project.
*The council was informed by city engineer Pete Carlson of SEH that he will be accepting a transfer to Denver, effective in June or July, and he recommended Scott Hudland, also of SEH, to replace him as city engineer. Carlson informed the council that Hudland has nine years of experience and that he will work closely with Carlson to ensure a smooth transition.
*The council approved a preliminary plat for Ampe Morningside Addition Plat Four. The proposed development, owned by the Clair Ampe Trust and administered by Paul and Peter Ampe, includes 14 lots located on the east end of the city, just south of Highway 23.
*The council approved forgiving special assessments for three properties on Minnie Street. Assessment on the properties, which are owned by Donald and Elsie Sonstegard, Phillip and Anna Margot Gottwald, and Claire B. Ampe, were deferred after a 1991 street improvement project because they were not part of the city. Now one of the properties has been annexed to the city.
Because of an engineering problem, the street is in poor condition, said Helget, and will likely need to be resurfaced in the next few years. The council agreed that it would be unfair to assess the properties now, only to do it again in a short time.
*The council approved sending Mayor Jeff Thompson to Washington, D.C., to represent Paynesville in lobbying for funds for Highway 23 improvement.
*The council approved paying Braun Pump up to $4,500 to make repairs to a main lift pump at the waste treatment plant.
*The council approved accepting a bid of $2,600 from Craig Hartman of Golden Valley for a 1978 Inter-national dump truck with a plow. The vehicle was declared as surplus property by the city.
*The council approved a gambling permit for the St. Louis Catholic Church Knights of Columbus to hold a raffle on Saturday, April 2.
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