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Paynesville Press - December 20, 2006

Council asks for no-parking zone
on Lake Avenue (Co. Rd. 66)

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 13.

*The council approved its 2007 tax levy, budget, and water and sewer rates. The city's budget for 2007 is $1,718,506, up 10.5 percent from 2006. (See story.)

The city plans to levy for $506,060 in 2007, up 4.5 percent. It also expects $627,556 in Local Govern-ment Aid and $584,907 in other revenue to balance its budget.

For water rates, the quarterly flat rate was approved at $14.50 (up from $13.63) with the bulk rate increasing 10 (from $1.83 to $1.93 for 2,001 to 99,999 gallons, from $1.78 to $1.88 for 100,000 to 500,000 gallons, and from $1.77 to $1.87 for more than 500,000 gallons). The quarterly flat sewer rate was approved at $16 for 2007, up two cents from $15.98 in 2006. The bulk rate for the sewer was kept the same at $1.99 for 2007.

*The council approved a resolution asking the county to enact a 150-foot no-parking zone on the west side of Co. Rd. 66 (Lake Avenue). Cars parking on the shoulder, as well as turning into Casey's General Store, can cause congestion, next to a busy intersection with Highway 23.

The council had tabled this resolution in November in order to contact Casey's General Store about any concerns and to contact the county about their intent to allow passing in the shoulder created by the no-parking zone. To create an open shoulder where motorists could not pass legally would not alleviate traffic.

In the resolution, the city asked the county to eliminate the fog line in order to allow passing on the shoulder.

This resolution now goes to the county for review and a final decision.

*The council discussed Highway 23 briefly. A submission for the city council to ponder for municipal consent is still pending MnDOT's revisions to the interchange on the west end of town.

Council member Jeff Bertram reported from a meeting of the Highway 23 Task Force in Willmar that funding may cause the project to be scheduled for 2010 now but that MnDOT planned to move ahead as if it was still scheduled for 2009. That way, if another project lags, this project could start in 2009 instead of 2010.

*The council approved a new five-year wastewater agreement with Master Mark Plastics.

*The council tabled a request for funding by the local Habitat for Humanity task force, citing the need to do due diligence in its findings of fact. The council was considering a contribution similar to what the city has done for Tri-CAP houses (a $2,500 loan forgivable over five years).

For both of these programs, the council decided that the city should have better data showing a need. When the forgivable loans for Tri-CAP houses was started, the city had not had much new construction, it was noted, but recently many new homes have been built in town. The city has commissioned a housing study, which will be done next summer.

The recommendation for Habitat for Humanity funding came from the EDAP board, and the council discussion broadened to the uncertainty to the focus of EDAP. The city and township participate in EDAP through a joint powers agreement, and there have been questions about what EDAP can do. The council recommended a review of the bylaws for EDAP (city, township, and joint powers agreement) as a first step in refocusing EDAP.

*The council approved a payment of $79,240.69 to Bauerly Companies for work completed thru Oct. 27, 2006, on the segment of the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail from the city to Old Lake Road. The council also discussed signage on the trail, including nonmotorized and no snowmobiling signs.

*The council approved a change in the EDAP loan agreement to Queen Bee's Bar and Grill. The $100,000 loan - split evenly by the city and township - is for the business's recent expansion. The loan agreement had been previously approved by the council, with the change relating solely to security on the loan.

*The council was informed that Eckerly and Ron Wasmund of Inspectron, Inc., the city's building inspector contractor, are still working on a new contract for 2007. Eckerly said that the proposed contract should be ready for council action at their meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 27.

*The council approved hiring Jon Kulzer and Corey Kluver for the Paynesville Fire Department, contingent on their passing physicals. They will serve as probationary members for one year and have two years to complete mandatory fire and first responder training.

*The council approved holding an employee holiday luncheon on Wednesday, Dec. 20. City hall will be closed for 90 minutes (from approximately 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.) for the luncheon, when service awards will be given to city employees.

The city's auditor has advised against having such a luncheon. There is no law against city's holding holiday gatherings, said city administrator Renee Eckerly, but there is an attorney's general opinion advising against it.

City attorney Bill Spooner said there are opinions on both sides among city attorneys in the state. On one hand, cities need to be prudent with their spending, but on the other hand, they also need to recognize their employees. Keeping good employees working at the city ultimately benefits taxpayers, Spooner added.

The council all supported having the luncheon. Council member Jeff Bertram said employees should also be recognized on a monthly basis, as warranted, by the council.

*The council accepted the resignation of Peter Jacobson from the EDAP board, effective Dec. 31, 2006.

*The council approved having public works director Ron Mergen and city employee Lee Schleper attend the Minnesota Wastewater Operators Association meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 12, in St. Cloud. The registration fee was $13 per person.

*The council approved having Schleper attend a tree inspector and certification testing workshop in St. Paul in January. The registration fee is $85.

*The council approved paying an invoice to Zimmerman Computer Consulting in the amount of $382.50 for work on city computers. Council member Dennis Zimmerman abstained from the vote.

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