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Paynesville Press - November 29, 2006

Paynesville city council
approves liquor ordinance

The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 21. (The meeting was moved to Tuesday because of Thanksgiving.)

•The council, after some discussion, approved a Sunday liquor ordinance allowing on-sale liquor sales from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays for a yearly fee of $200. The hours and fee are the maximum allowed by the state statute, which the council approved after discussion.

The ordinance needs to be published and an application developed by the city and approved by the council before establishments can serve on-sale liquor on Sundays.

Both the American Legion Post #271 and Queen Bee's Bar and Grill attended the meeting and provided input to the council. Doris Wendlandt, owner of Queen Bee's Bar and Grill, asked that the hours go until 2 a.m., even though she does not plan on being open that late except for holidays. She also asked for a low fee, or no fee, since her annual $3,000 liquor license is one of the highest in the area, she said.

The council settled on both the maximum fee ($200) and maximum hours (10 a.m. to 2 a.m.). Councilor Jeff Bertram said that if the city charges the maximum fee, the local businesses should be able to use the maximum hours.

Safety concerns over long hours on Sundays were raised by councilor Dennis Zimmerman and in a letter by police chief Kent Kortlever, who noted that people have to work on Mondays.

Mayor Jeff Thompson said he understood these concerns but that they could also be raised for late hours on other weekday nights when people might have to work the next day. More people, he added, have different work schedules.

The council could revisit the hours set in the ordinance next year, noted councilor Tom Lindquist.

The council also agreed that it should revisit its current ordinance dealing with alcoholic beverage licenses and regulations, as suggested by city attorney Bill Spooner.

•The council - in a joint meeting with the planning commission - conducted a yearly review of the city's contract with Inspectron, Inc., for building inspector services. 2006 is the first year that the city has contracted with Inspectron for building inspector services, at a rate of $3,500 per month for 20 hours work. Based on lower volumes of permits - 180 permits in 2005 and 153 so far in 2006, down 17 percent - Inspectron offered not to bill for December. Thru nine months of 2006, the city had collected $24,300 in building permit fees and had paid $31,500 to Inspectron.

The city had conducted a survey of permit holders in 2006 as well as neighboring cities for their building inspector ordinance and services.

Ron Wasmund of Inspectron, Inc., noted that the 33 surveys were generally positive but they did indicate a need for faster turnaround of permits, especially for general maintenance such as roofing, siding, and equipment replacement (water heaters, etc.) projects. He proposed having an inspector at city hall three days per week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.) to issue counter permits, answer questions, and work on local permits.

Wasmund also proposed three payment options for 2007: working 20 hours per week at the same rate as 2006 ($3,500 per month); working 15 hours per week for $2,800 per month (a 20 percent fee reduction); or sharing permit revenue (80 percent for Inspectron and 20 percent for the city) but also increasing fee costs by charging 50 percent of the building permit fee for plan review.

The council preferred the second option and referred the matter back to the public works committee to negotiate with Inspectron.

Wasmund said that anyone with permitting questions could call Inspectron at 1-800-322-6153, its Waite Park office at 320-259-7947, or is Paynesville inspector Gary Utsch on his cell phone at 1-612-719-1995.

•The council tabled a request to the county to enact a 150-foot no-parking zone on the west side of Co. Rd. 66 (Lake Avenue) directly south of Highway 23.

The suggestion was made by Kortlever as a possible measure to relieve traffic congestion when vehicles turn onto Lake Avenue and immediately want to turn into Casey's General Store. The no-parking zone might allow vehicles to pass on the right instead of creating traffic snarls.

Since Lake Avenue (Co. Rd. 66) is a county road, the city can request a no-parking zone, but the county needs to make a final decision.

An initial hesitation was to inform Casey's General Store of the request in case they have any concerns. Semi-trucks do park along Lake Avenue and stop at the store; the no-parking zone would not prohibit this, maybe making drivers walk a little further, said public works director Ron Mergen.

While considering approval of the request contingent on Casey's General Store not having any objections, Thompson raised concerns about whether traffic could legally pass on the shoulder. How the county would stripe the intersection would determine whether vehicles could pass on the right, so the council asked staff to contact the county and learn what they might do with the intersection to improve traffic flow before requesting the no-parking zone.

•The council approved hiring Kern DeWenter Viere to conduct a liquor store analysis for an amount not to exceed $2,500. The purpose is to review revenues, expenses, trends, transfers, and profitability for the past 10 years and to compare its operation to other liquor stores in central Minnesota.

•The council closed its fund for the 2004 street improvements and transferred the balance of $81,685.01 to the respective debt fund.

•The council advised Mergen, who serves as the airport manager, to move the hangar project back to 2008 or 2009, on the airport capital improvement plan. The city is expected to get $150,000 per year over the next three years from the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) and is planning to spend $60,000 for land acquisition, $45,000 to update the airport layout plan, and $10,000 for a non-directional beacon, leaving $35,000 for a new hangar, which is expected to cost $514,000.

The city has 11 names on its waiting list for a hangar spot, said Mergen, but the council wanted to be sure that the NPIAS funding would continue and to save towards the hangar cost before proceeding.

•The council approved paying 25 percent of the cost overruns for city engineer Bolton & Menk for work for this year's street project. The extended length of the project - estimated at 12-14 but lasting 20 weeks - caused their costs to run $22,822 over their contracted $77,500. Bolton & Menk did not write the specifications for the project but picked it up and supervised it for the city.

The public works committee recommended paying 20 percent of the overrun, and the council approved paying 25 percent of the overrun ($5,705.50).

•The council approved transferring $4,275.98 from its park capital improvement fund to pay for assessments from this summer's street project on South Street Park.

•The council approved a step increase for liquor store clerk Darleen Utsch, who had successfully completed her six-month probationary period.

•The council agreed to request monthly verbal reports from the police department and the liquor store.

•The council received an update about its debt management study, after finding a flaw because assessments were being paid to some funds over 10 years but the bonding was done over 15 years. This means some funds might have small shortfalls, said city administrator Renee Eckerly.

•The council accepted the resignation of Maurice Dosdall from the Paynesville Human Rights Commission and appointed Marilyn Guenther, Katrina Daby (student advisor), and Keegan Meagher (student advisor) to the Human Rights Commission.

•The council was informed that Harlan Beek has submitted his resignation, effective at the end of December, from the trail committee. A replacement from the city will be needed for him.

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