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Paynesville Press - June 21, 2006

City hires new administrator

The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Wednesday, June 14.

•The council approved hiring Renee Eckerly of Cass Lake as the new city administrator and set her wage as Grade 18, Step 3. She would rincrease a step in 2007 after her successful six-month review.

•The council discussed a letter concerning Highway 23 from MnDOT engineer Lowell Flaten. The Willmar MnDOT office is making additional changes to the proposal for the future alignment of Highway 23 in Paynesvile at the request of the Central Office Technological Support Unit. They plan to submit a final layout with these changes by the end of June, Flaten informed the council.

MnDOT now plans to submit a final layout to the city in July, added Flaten. When MnDOT does this submission, the timetables for municipal consent will begin.

•The council heard a report from the Ad Hoc Emergency Services Building Committee, the committee established to look at the present condition of the ambulance garage (owned by the city and leased by the Paynesville Area Health Care System) as well as the long-term needs of the ambulance corps and the fire department. Interim city administrator and public works director Ron Mergen reported that any future expansion of the fire hall would not occur at its present site due to safety concerns. So, it is estimated that the fire hall will need to be relocated in 10 to 15 years.

Therefore, committee members agreed that the city should not build a new ambulance garage at its present site. The current ambulance garage has safety concerns, too. The lot could be sold to the hospital or the city could demolish the fire hall when it is time to relocate.

•The council was informed that all three groups of city employees - general, law enforcement, and superisory - voted to unionize. The first two groups have already notified the city of their desire to negotiate contracts.

•The council approved a payment of $236,798.90 to R.L. Larson Excavating for work completed on the street project through Friday, May 26.

•The council approved a JOBZ zone for Louis Industries and set a public hearing about a $150,000 EDAP loan to Louis Industries on Wednesday, July 12, at 6:45 p.m. Louis Industries has purchased the former Quality Checked Plastics building and is planning an exansion. The public hearing is required due to the size of the EDAP loan.

•The council approved adopting the 1994 Building Permit Fee Schedule, fourth edition, rather than the second edition that the city had been using. The city contracts for building inspection services with Inspectron, which runs the fourth edition on its computers.

•The council met with Rep. Larry Hosch (DFL-St. Joseph) to discuss significant city issues from the recent legislative session, including parkland dedication, joint powers agreements, eminent domain, and annexation.

•The council approved a concept plan for Heatherwood Plat Three, submitted by Keith Dombrovski, contingent on approval by the state of this annexation to the city. The council also approved having Bolton & Menk, the city engineer, complete a feasibility study for Heatherwood Plat Three for $2,500. And the council agreed to split the water fees with the developer, since Dombrovski agreed to annex his plat to the city to protect the city well fields and because his plat was planned before these fees were enacted.

•The council approved a lot split for Jeremy Nelson, who wants it because the St. Louis Catholic Cemetery is interested in adding property.

•The council approved a variance request by Casey and Jody Meagher to construct a detached garage on their property on Evergreen Court that is only 10' 6" off the right of way of Maple Street. The required setback is 30'.

•The council set a variance hearing for St. Stephen's Episcopal Church for Wednesday, July 12, at 6:30 p.m. The church is planning renovations and improvements, including a ramp to make the church handicap accessible. The church already does not meet the required 20-foot setback from Hudson Street or from Wendell Street, thus requiring the variance. The wheelchair ramp would only be three feet from the street right of way.

•The council approved a budgeted bond levy transfer of $102,700, as based on the debt management study by Northland Securities in June 2005. The council approved 20 other budgeted fund transfers, totaling over $450,000.

•The council approved not waiving the monetary limits for municipal tort liability established by state statute.

•The council approved a bid of $7,500 from Bolton & Menk to proceed with the second phase in the Wellhead Protection Plan.

•The council tabled a bid of $65,000 from Bolton & Menk to provide engineering services for the construction of a new 10-unit hangar at the Paynesville Municipal Airport. The council wanted to review finances of the project, which does qualify for an interest-free loan.

•The board received a letter from Stoneburner Law Office concerning the unauthorized use of his property during the recent city/AMPI project on Railroad Street and Washburne Avenue requesting a claim of $4,500 from the city (nine days lost parking for his off-street parking at $500 a day). He also indicated that his property had been damaged by the work and would be submitting a future claim.

•The council tabled a five-year rental agreement with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, which rents the council chambers on Thursdays for driver's license testing. The city is currently paid $5,200 quarterly as rent.

The council wanted to learn if this is the same amount as last time and what other cities get and whether it could renegotiate the rent it receives.

•The council approved a $2,500 deferred loan (forgivable over five years) to Davis Hoekstra and Amelia Musser-Hoekstra, who are purchasing a Tri-CAP home on Coakley Street.

•The council approved paying the expenses for councilors Tom Lindquist and Jean Soine (who went to Cass Lake) and for Mayor Jeff Thompson (who went to the Bureau of Mediation Services office). Normally, council trips are pre-approved, but these could not be.

•The council approved beginning the process of hiring a part-time seasonal maintenance worker for 24 hours per week at $6.75 per hour.

•The council approved an application to the Central Minnesota Initiative Foundation's Heathly Communities Partnership Grant.

•The council approved allowing Mergen to negotiate the sale of 200 decorative landscape blocks. They previously had been declared surplus property, but the city did not receive any bids.

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