Prior to the regular city council meeting on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, Canton held a special meeting at 6 p.m. to inform residents of proposed utility rate increase. Canton residents were informed on the status of the current budget shortfalls in the city’s utility funds.
Four residents were in attendance to hear the proposals and ask questions.
Mayor Johnson led the meeting, explaining the basis for establishing the current billing basis, and how those rates are no longer sufficient to fund the utility service.
At the current rate, the annual $49,000 expenses versus $41,000 in revenues has resulted in an $8,000 loss, or about $850 per month, making a change necessary.
Jeff Dale, a representative from Minnesota Rural Water was present to explain the process utilized when establishing utility charges and help address questions.
Dale stated that the goal is to establish a fair balance for charges to not penalize low use households for the usage of a large households. It was also mentioned that there should be some consideration to establishing the rates in order to encourage conservation of water by the city residents.
At the present time, Canton’s population uses approximately 41 gallons of water per day, which is less than anticipated at about 55-60 gallons per day per person originally used to determine expected revenues. Although this reduction is an indication of conservation of water, the reduction results in less revenue for the service.
Mayor Johnson explained that property tax dollars received from residents are used for general fund expenses and are not able to be used to fund enterprise services. Those services must be self-supporting.
The Mayor explained that the business of producing water must not be run at a loss; it must be a profitable enterprise fund, according to the state. Should additional upgrades be required, securing grants and reduced interest loans is dependent on positive numbers and having funds on reserve for unexpected expenses. The need to cover the expenses is important, according to the Mayor, but it is also important to accumulate funds to meet future needs.
Three proposals were presented for public information.
1. A monthly water service charge of $25.00 and usage charge of $5.86 per thousand gallons.
2. A monthly water service charge of $28.50 and usage charge of $4.84 per thousand gallons.
3. A monthly water service charge of $32.00 and usage charge unchanged at $3.00 per thousand gallons.
With any of the three scenarios, the $5 meter charge will be discontinued.
Currently Canton has one of the lowest monthly rates, based on 3,000 gallons used, of the 10 communities surveyed. It was also noted that when compared to other area communities, even with the increase options, Canton’s rates will be very similar in cost.
Sewer services are self-supporting with only a $0.04 increase; there will be a slight increase for garbage due to an increase from Richards Sanitation.
Following discussion, the special meeting was adjourned, with action to be taken at the regular meeting.
At the November 10 regular meeting, the Canton City Council approved the 2021 utility rates, all effective January 1:
• Water – Option 2: Base rate increased to $28.50, per gallon usage charge of $4.94 per thousand.
• Sewer – Monthly service charge of $33.00; usage charge of $2.44 ($0.04 increase from current charge)
• Garbage and recycling: 32 gallon tote: $10.70 monthly ($0.21 increase); 64 gallon tote: $12.22 monthly ($0.25 increase); 96 gallon tote: $13.71 monthly ($0.27 increase); Recycling: $4.00 monthly ($0.15 increase)
It was noted that the water option chosen reflects an increase of $11 from the current base charge and the per-gallon charge is an increase of $1.84 over the current per gallon charge.
This option allows for building the needed reserves and bring the income in line with service expenses. The current $5 monthly water upgrade fee will be eliminated as well.
Regular business items, including the approval of the October meeting minutes and the only consent agenda item of monthly bills were handled, with the exception of the Kevin Scrabeck bill for Mitson House repairs.
Clerk Bergey’s report
Delinquent accounts were not calculated; no disconnections were reported.
There were two letters regarding public nuisance violations and one letter regarding an out-of-town dog roaming at large within city limits sent by the clerk.
It was noted that the city hall would be closed Veterans Day, November 11 and November 26-27 in observance of Thanksgiving.
Legal matter updates
• Lolly Melander: remote pretrial hearing November 16; jury trial March 24 to April 2, 2021 (unchanged)
• Robroy Kelly/Abandoned Vehicle: pretrial December 8
• Steve Popplewell/Building Maintenance: Pretrial January 12, 2021
• Rick Nelson/Building Maintenance: Plead guilty November 3, $150 fine and unsupervised probation for one year, must comply with ordinance by June 1, 2021
• Joel Torgerson/Building Maintenance and Public Nuisance: No update on appeal, November 15 compliance deadline with no property improvements evident.
• Danny Whalen/Public Nuisance: On unsupervised probation until February 20, 2021, letter sent noting recurring violations, will follow up with county attorney if not addressed by November 13, 2020.
General election results, with a 92% voter turnout, will be canvassed November 12, 2020, at 6 p.m.
The grant application for LED street light project to the Arlin Falk Foundation was approved in the amount of $4,500.
Bergey continues to update the Canton city website and the organization of computer files.
The application period for the deputy clerk has ended and candidates will be interviewed to fill the position.
Public Works Jon Nordsving: recent water repair on South Main; bio-solids were applied last month; some recirculation issues at treatment plant are being worked on.
Ryan Lange, Canton Fire Chief, requested the purchase of thermal imager for $795 and jump pack, up to $500; approved. Lange also reported that he will be leaving the fire department at the end of the year after 11 years of service. The council thanked Lange for his service to Canton.
Police: monthly call report reviewed.
Planning Commission: no activity
Coronavirus Relief Funds report: of the $26,294 available, $23,820.50 has been distributed, including outstanding invoices. An additional outstanding invoice of $1,043.00 to Stortz Satellite for city hall security camera, plus funds remaining of $2,473.50 to be used for the purchase of 80 chairs for the town hall will utilize all CARES Act funds.
Mitson House: changes in the ramp construction project, making it more durable, were approved at an additional cost of $175, for a total of $875 for the project. Electric updated quote for updated electrical repairs was reviewed with additional clarification needed.
New business items
Jon Nordsving’s cell phone needs to be updated and he requested that the city reimburse him for his cost monthly for his personal phone that he will be using for city business. Reimbursement of $50 stipend with no city responsibility for phone replacement was approved. The current government phone account will be discontinued.
Main Street closure for lighted holiday parade on December 12 was approved.
Residents are reminded that winter parking rules resumed November 1, with alternate side parking enforced with or without snow. Repeat offenders could eventually receive a $25 citation per offense; only the city council can waive a citation. Information was included in the monthly utility bills, is available online and also by contacting the city hall.
The next regular city council meeting will be held on December 9, 2020, at 6 p.m.