4/13/2018 11:48:00 AM Center City hikes sewer and water fees; sets bond sale date
Center City Council has raised sewer and water rates effective for usage in the billing quarter starting July. The council adopted the set of city fees that it reviews annually, 5-0.
Council member Mark Wolcott remarked that maybe the general fund (levy) won’t have to go up with this added income. The pumphouse fee was the last hike in utility charges, imposed in 2012. Council heard city sewer and water costs have been subsidized by general fund monies and ideally these funds ought to be self-supporting. City maintenance supervisor Eric Garner then presented a quote from Nelson Electric Motor Repair of Howard Lake, for a lift station repair, in the area of Crescent Beach Rd. The work will be about $2,500 to replace deteriorated rails, with stainless, that support the pump and allow it to be adjusted.
Highlights from the fee schedule are: the sewer and water fees go to $35 per unit quarterly from $20.
After the base gallon charge (where everybody pays for 8,000 gallons) the per-thousand-gallon used charge will become $3.70.
Late charge for delinquent payments and/or water service shut-off process goes to $15 from $10.
Council also adopted an on-line bill payment system administered through Gov-Pay. There will be a link on the Center City website you can click on to pay bills electronically. Transaction costs for the system are borne by the customer. Or, you can always come to city offices by the Bayview Apartments on Center Avenue, and pay bills in person, or use the secure drop box on the city hall south wall.
City Clerk Norma Anderson mentioned that there have been problems with U.S. Postal delivery of sewer and water bills recently. If residents don’t see their bills soon after the quarter ends they should contact city hall. All pieces of mail are now sent to St Paul, sorted, and then sent back for delivery in Center City; and subsequently pieces are disappearing or arriving very late, she added.
In fire department business on the agenda: the department was represented by Jim Marxer and Chief Travis Greene.
They asked for authority to acquire an ocean shipping container; which at first will store items that need to come out of the fire hall during the remodel, and later will be used for a fire training structure. The chief is talking with private rural property owners who may let the container be kept on their land. He said the goal is for personnel to have this available for training later right nearby.
The shipping container price was capped at $3,500 by council vote.
Greene and Marxer also discussed the policy being drafted for a fitness room which is part of the remodel of the fire hall.
Firefighters want use of the fitness equipment by non-firefighters. Safety is enhanced when people aren’t working-out alone, council was told. Insurance providers, though, have recommended a city policy that prohibits fitness facility use by non-firefighters.
There was no action. The policy will continue to be reviewed in the next ordinance subcommittee session.
The department is at around 16 members and welcomes interested future firefighters to look into joining. Membership should be closer to 20 or 22, said the chief.
As for the fire hall project and the half-million dollar bonding to finance it-- council secheduled a special meeting for Thursday, April 12 to receive bids.
The bond sale itself can not be acted on or “dispersed” until April 16. There is a 30-day reverse referendum window open until then, should citizens petition demanding a vote on the fire hall project. (Press story March 15.)
Rain Garden grant money is still available from a Targeted Watershed water management program and council unanimously okayed a plan for a rain garden on Center Avenue, where drainage issues exist near city hall. Chisago County Soil and Water Conservation District staffer Casey Thiel got the go-ahead to gather project quotes on behalf of the city.
Garner reported that he had spoken with a power company representative during recent improvements done to the Xcel system. Poles and wires have been upgraded on the south edge of Hwy 8 east of downtown, which the city expected.
But, Garner said he noticed a pole erected near mainstreet off the highway (by Dock & Marine) and learned that plans included a large, unsightly piece of equipment atop the pole known as a Viper Switch. Industry print material says the device is for “over current protection.”
Garner commented the utility upgrade in the downtown-- along with the recent street reconstruction--had specifically included removing unsightly poles and powerlines. He advised the company that the city will be unhappy with this proposed location for the Viper Switch apparatus.
Council directed staff to continue to discuss the matter with the grid improvement project managers and see if this switch can be placed in a less visible location. Garner added he was informed the electrical grid project isn’t scheduled to advance much again until May.
Also-- the south end of Grand Avenue, basically from Lorens Park north towards Hwy 8 a few hundred feet, is being eyed for repairs and paving. Garner informed council that he and city engineering consultants are putting together measurements for bituminous quantities and estimating costs before he brings action to council.
The parcel at 425 North Main Street, where the street ends, was approved for setback and impervious surface variances for a deck and walkway of decking material.
The council was also made aware of a public hearing to be set later, for the same owners, wanting city easements to be vacated at that address. Council member Wolcott asked if the owner was unaware of the easement due to the title search failing to identify the easement when the house was recently purchased? The owner said there’s no mortgage.
Paperwork and a new survey is pending on the easement details, so a hearing would not likely happen before June.