3/14/2013 11:50:00 AM Council sees sewer, water rate hikes, public hearing continues April 2
The Center City council addressed a varied agenda Tuesday evening while another major winter storm wound down. Council members and staff reported that all the city streets were open and no complaints related to snow removal had been called in to city hall. With the city maintenance director away at Rural Water Conference training, the newly hired maintenance assistant had handled snow removal on his own, starting early in the morning and plowing throughout the day to keep ahead of the accumulating snow.
Mayor Behnke opened a public hearing on the city’s 2013 fee schedule at 7:16 pm. Fees for city services will probably stay the same as last year, except for water and sewer charges. The council proposed raising the water usage charge from $20 to $25 per quarter and sewer treatment from $2.75 to $3 per thousand gallons to keep up with the increases from the Joint Sewer Commission for treatment charges. Language to clarify water and sewer connections was also added. Several citizens attended the meeting, but no one commented during the hearing. The council did not act on the proposed changes in order to allow the city attorney time to draft the final schedule. The hearing was recessed and will reopen at 7:15 p.m. during the council’s next monthly meeting on April 2.
Ron Crawford, retiring from ownership and management of RC Vintage Liquor, introduced the store’s new owner, Seak Kee Chew. City attorney Peter Grundhoefer advised that the sale of the business and transfer of the liquor and tobacco licenses requires action by the council, subject to application, current tax status and background check. The council unanimously passed that motion and welcomed the new owner to the business community. The transfer is tentatively scheduled for the end of March. Chew resides in Forest Lake. Mike Fleischhacker spoke to the council regarding the consequences of the parking ordinance change that the council enacted last month. Fleischhacker said the “No parking on Summit” during the winter months is a hardship for his tenant because the regulation restricts direct access to the apartment in his building. He asked if 321 Summit could have a designated parking place. This would not inconvenience city staff, Fleischhacker said, since he personally plows the area around his building.
The council members responded that every business would be asking for designated parking if that was allowed, and that the parking restriction is meant only to address snowfall events. Rather than the city clerk texting the tenant when the street will be plowed, as Fleischhacker requested, the council suggested that the tenant provide a phone and license number to the maintenance department. Council member Wolcott added that, so far, city staff has not had to have vehicles towed. Mayor Behnke said she would talk to the city’s contracted deputy regarding enforcement of the parking ordinance. The council spent considerable time discussing how to respond to a letter from the State of Minnesota Department of Management and Budget that was a “first notice of non-compliance for pay equity.” The department’s audit of the 2012 pay equity forms brought up the possibility of a pay equity miscalculation, but was ambiguous as to when and how the city needs to address the issue. The council moved to request a 30 day extension to study the complicated formula before submitting a response to the letter.
In other business the council:
-Heard a report that pump house # 2 reroof is completed Unanimously:
-Passed Ordinance 2013-03-05, prohibiting cross connection between the city water system and other systems, with the intent to prevent contamination of the city water supply
-Approved a donation of $100 to the Chisago County Senior Center
-Approved a donation of $250 to the Initiative Foundation