City increases fines for parking tickets

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 12/20/00.

The Paynesville City Council approved doubling parking fines and charging for false burglar alarms at their Wednesday meeting.

Paynesville Police Chief Tony Schmitt requested that parking ticket fines be increased from $5 to $10 for first and second offenses, and to $25 for third and subsequent tickets.

Schmitt did not feel the present fine was strong enough to have any affect on violators. "For $5, we are not getting the point across. One individual has been cited many times," Schmitt said.

"As far back as I researched, the fine has always been $5," Schmitt said. The department has issued 145 tickets thus far this year.

The majority of the tickets are issued for violations of the winter parking ordinances and for tractor/trailer parking on residential streets.

The winter parking ordinance was designed to clear the streets for snow removal. The ordinance states there shall be no parking on city streets from Nov. 1 to March 31 between the hours of 2 and 6 a.m.

"We have a problem with tractor/ trailers parking on residential streets," Schmitt informed the council. The residential streets are not designed to carry heavy loads such as semi trucks.

In order to change the fine schedule, the council needed to approve a resolution to change a city ordinance.

Schmitt also requested permission to start charging a fee for false alarms.

Twenty-seven businesses and homes in Paynesville have burglar alarms, Schmitt said. When the alarm goes off, the county dispatcher is notified and they in turn call the city police.

So far this year the city has had 81 false alarms. Every call costs the city about $50 for the officer's time and mileage, Schmitt said.

"Very often the alarms go off as a result of poor employee training or the home owner not knowing how to shut the alarm off," Schmitt said.

The Integrated Health Clinic has had the most calls with nine false alarms this year with the Koronis Hills Golf Club coming in second with eight false alarms.

By being charged a fine for false alarms, businesses and home owners might take more care in instructing their employees or to have the alarms in proper working order, Schmitt said. He explained that some alarms are too sensitive and go off when the paper boy delivers the newspaper.

Another problem the false alarms cause is a false sense of safety. Officers could respond to a call thinking it is another false alarm and may walk into a dangerous situation.

Schmitt recommended no charge for the first or second false alarm. Owners will be charged $50 for the third call and $100 for the fourth and subsequent calls. Both new policies will go into effect Jan. 1, 2001.

Wastewater treatment
The city approved a wastewater treatment agreement with Master Mark Plastics. Master Mark operates a facility which washes and recycles plastic materials.

The wastewater from Master Mark contains about 850 mg biodegradable oxygen demand (BOD). The normal BOD level (strength of sewage) is 280 BOD, explained Ron Mergen, public works director.

Businesses that discharge large amounts of sewage receive incentives to keep the waste stream down. Master Mark has done a good job of decreasing their BOD. A few years back it was 1,500 mg BOD, Mergen said.

In its first agreement, Master Mark was charged nine cents per pound per day for excess BOD. Mergen requested the rates be increased to 18 cents per pound per day for anything over 100 to 300 pounds and 36 cents per pound per day over 300 pounds.

The new agreement starts on May 1, 2001, and lasts until May 2006.

Street projects
The seven streets slated to be improved in 2002 were moved to 2004, Mergen told the board. MnDOT is planning to upgrade Highway 124 (Lake Avenue) which will be the city project in 2002. This allows the city extra time to build a second exit to Morningside Addition, as South Street will not be torn up until 2004. At present, South Street ends on the east by the Evergreen Apartments.

The city has been working with MnDOT, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the North Fork Crow River Watershed District, and Paynesville Township to develop another exit from Morningside Addition to Highway 23.

"If everything falls into place, the extension could possibly be built in 2001," Mergen said. Storm water drainage from the area is a major issue as some of the land for the new street is located in the township.

Other business
•The council approved the 2001 tax levy of $472,848.

•The council approved the 2001 budget summary of $1,330,400.

•The council approved deferring assessments on four places for the 2000 street improvement project. To qualify for a deferment, a person must be over 55 years of age and make less than $26,750 per year for an individual or $30,600 for a couple.

•The council approved purchasing seven air packs for the fire department. Four of the air packs will be purchased this year and three in 2001

• The council met with Butch Schultze and Kevin Piepenburg of Mid Minnesota Development, the city's building inspectors. "Paynesville had a good construction year," Piepenburg said. Last year the city approved 85 building permits totaling about $5.5 million in construction costs.
The council will be reviewing Mid Minnesota Development's contract for 2001 at their next meeting.

•The council approved a new contract with the Tri-County Action Programs for transportation in 2001. The city will pay $8,753 to Tri-CAP monthly. Tri-CAP manages the program, owns the bus, and employs the bus driver and dispatcher.

•The council approved applying for federal transportation funding to upgrade the railroad crossing on Washburne Avenue. The federal government would pay for 80 percent of the cost and the local split would be 20 percent, according to Mergen.

•DuDonne Andrie, motor vehicle clerk received a step increase in pay after completing her six-month probation period.

•The council approved raising the bulk sewer rates two cents per month. Rates will go from $1.72 to $1.74 per 1,000 gallons.

•The council renewed its lease of $250 per month with the Paynesville Area Health Care system for the ambulance garage.

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