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Paynesville Press - June 16, 2004

Proposed leaf burning ban referred to committee

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Wednesday, June 9.

*The council referred a proposed ban on burning leaves within the city limits back to the environmental committee for a formal recommendation.

At a public hearing last week, public works director Ron Mergen, told the council that leaf burning is a nuisance and is particularly bothersome to people with asthma and allergies. Chuck Koshiol, another member of the environmental committee, pointed out that burning leaves isn't necessary as there are a number of other ways to dispose of leaves, including composting at the city compost site. Each fall, West Central Sanitation picks up leaves within the city for composting.

According to mayor Jeff Thompson, the city will consider a second leaf pick-up by West Central Sanitation in the fall. In addition, the city is considering extending the hours at the compost site. Because the compost site is run by the youth hockey association, the city needs to organize extended hours - in the spring and fall - with that group. It is unknown what extra hours will cost the city, though it will likely be minimal, according to Mergen.

*The council approved paying for 75 percent of the local costs for the section of the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail from the city to the city beach. A federal grant will cover 80 percent of the costs, with the city and township covering the local match (20 percent plus engineering, land acquisition, and surveying costs). Assuming residents will allow right-of-ways to be used without cost, the city estimates the local share of this project at $120,000. *The council heard a verbal report from city administrator Steve Helget regarding the proposed aquatic park. New engineering estimates for the facility have increased by $50,400, increasing the estimated cost of the proposed facility from $1,231,144 to $1,281,600. The city and township are considering putting another bonding referendum for the facility to a vote at the general election in November. City and township voters rejected a bonding issue for the project at a special election in April.

*The council heard an update on the 2004 street improvement project from city engineer Pete Carlson. Railroad Street and Lake Avenue will be paved this week in order to have them completed by Town & Country Days, said Carlson. Overlayment on the Industrial Loop will be done after Town & Country Days, however, as prep work still needs to be done in that area.

Utility work on Belmont Street and on Hudson Street is nearly done, said Carlson. Curb and gutter work on those streets could begin soon, but only if the weather clears, as concrete can't be poured in heavy rain, said Carlson.

*The council approved paying $215,900 to Dunnick Brothers for work completed so far on the street project.

*The council heard about a debt management study from Monte Eastvold of Northland Securities. According to Eastvold, most of the city's bond funds are in good shape and some should have excess funds once the bonds are paid.

Three bond funds, however, are projected to have negative balances in upcoming years. In each case, this was caused by deferred special assessments that are due after the bonds come due. Eastvold recommended the city pay special attention to these accounts. He pointed out that enough excess exists in other bond funds to pay the negative balances.

Eastvold also reported that the city's credit rating had been upgraded. Because the city pays most of its bonds within 10 years, and because the credit agency recently changed its criteria and now includes budget reserves when considering bond ratings, the city's rating was raised from Baa1 to Baa3. *The council set a public hearing for changes to liquor license fees for Wednesday, July 14, at 6:30 p.m. The proposed changes would affect the fee for 3.2-liquor licenses and for strong beer licenses, which could increase from $50 per year to $100. *The council approved a clean-up plan at Quality Checked Plastics. Neighbors of the business in the Industrial Park have complained about plastic debris blowing from the property.

Owner Stuart Hamilton proposed the company assign daily clean-up teams; educate employees on the importance of litter control; start using a blower and a vacuum for smaller pieces of debris; repair the fence that isolates a pile of plastic waiting to be processed; move one waste container inside a building; move some production to St. Cloud; and consider building additional fencing if other measures don't control the problem. According to Hamilton, employees will double their clean-up efforts during Town & Country Days.

*The council approved a development agreement and ordered a study of improvements for Ridgeview Sixth Addition, a subdivision proposed by Patrick Flanders, Amy Flanders, Michael Flanders, Josephine Flanders, Barry Flanders, Janet Flanders, Ronald Frauenshuh Sr., Phyllis Frauenshuh, James Braegleman, Diane Braegleman, Craig Brunlett, and Angela Bruntlett.

*The council set a public hearing for Wednesday, June 30, at 6:45 p.m. for a variance for the proposed development. The developers have requested a variance for three lots that do not meet the city's minimum front width of 75 feet because the lots are irregularly shaped.

*The council approved a ground lease agreement for rental units in the tee hanger at the Paynesville Municipal Airport by a three to one vote. Thompson and council members Dennis Zimmerman and Jean Soine voted to approve the lease agreement while council member Harlan Beek voted against the measure. (Council member Dave Peschong was absent.) Beek voted against the measure after questioning whether renters will be allowed to store items such as RVs in the hanger. Thompson explained that the lease will require lessees to have an airplane to store but didn't address storing additional items.

*The council also approved paying Martin & Squires $5,000 for appraisals on property acquired through court hearings for the airport.

*The council approved a final payment of $39,100 to Southside Steel Systems for construction of the tee hanger at the airport.

*The council approved transferring $829 from the fire department's general fund to an account set up for the restoration of a 1929 REO fire truck. Money for the project was donated by the Everson Memorial.

*The council approved a street closing request from the Paynesville Area Chamber of Commerce for a kiddie parade. Washburne Avenue will be closed from Highway 23 to Main Street on Tuesday, June 22, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. for the kiddie parade during Town and Country Days.

*The council also approved a parade permit for the kiddie parade.

*The council set a special meeting on Friday, June 18, at 12 noon to review and approve the Fire Relief Association audit.

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