At the July 11 Harmony City Council meeting, the council discussed the complaints that have been received about semi trucks and trailers that have been parking overnight in Harmony. Originally, the city had allowed semi drivers to park on vacant land that the city owned, but now that someone has purchased the land, the situation has changed. The city ordinance states that only passenger vehicles are allowed to park on city streets overnight, which has caused some semi drivers to feel targeted. “I think it was a decision that was made too hastily,” City Clerk Samantha Grabau said about the ordinance. Mayor Donney agreed that a spot needed to be found where semis would be allowed to park overnight. The council decided that for the time being, the area near the nursing home would work while they continue to consider a solution.
The consent agenda was approved and included the minutes of the June 13 meeting, the claims and June checks, the cash in CD, and cash balances, as well as a pay request from the Harmony Area Chamber of Commerce for the second half of their 2023 budgeted funds.
Kelsey Larson from Abdo gave the audit presentation. The report came back clean with no non-compliant findings. The City of Harmony has a healthy reserve in the general fund. During last year’s budget, the revenues came in over budget and expenditures came in under budget.
A request was received from Greenfield Lutheran Church for a partial sewer fee forgiveness. Starting in October 2022, the church’s utility bill saw a major increase due to a leak that was determined to be coming from an outside source. Due to the fact that the water likely did not go down the sewer, the church requested forgiveness for a portion of its sewer bills since October 2022. Council member Michael Himlie asked why the leak was not addressed earlier and continued for six months. He felt that one or two months would be appropriate, but anything past that seemed negligent. “That’s a valid point,” Mayor Steve Donney said, noting that the fact that the water didn’t go down the sewer should also be considered. A motion to forgive two months of sewer overage for a total of $600 was approved.
Resolution 23-06 accepting a donation to the library was accepted. The donation will go towards the cost for the new circulation desk.
The EDA reported that there have been no new updates on the bike trail project. The DNR is finalizing the details and plan to bid it out in the fall of 2023 so that construction can take place in 2024.
Chamber Director Allison Whalen thanked the city for its help and support over the Fourth of July celebrations.
The Park Board received quite a few orders for trees this year. They are planning to do another park tour to check on the status of projects that had been identified during the first tour and to see if anything new had popped up. They also had a discussion on the splash pad hours and decided to keep them as is for the time being.
Council member and library board liaison Michael Himlie reported that library usage numbers continue to be strong.
The Arts Board is discussing the possibility of holding a Community Sings event in the late summer or early fall.
Fireman Blaine Gatzke has retired after 30 years of service. Jesse Grabau reported that the fireworks show this year was a success.
Fillmore County Sheriff John DeGeorge addressed the council about the city’s contract with the sheriff’s department. He is working to implement some changes to how the department provides services to the cities in Fillmore County with which it holds contracts. Originally, the city’s contract provided three full-time deputies to be shared between the cities of Mabel, Canton, and Harmony with each city paying a third of the cost. Part-time deputies have been used to fill in the gaps in the schedules. However, there is a shortage of law enforcement personnel in general, but especially part-time positions. The current model also makes it difficult for cities to budget for the services. Sheriff DeGeorge would like to move to an hourly based contract service starting in 2024. The service itself will not change and the cost will be about the same as what the city is currently paying. “It ensures that we can use our resources more efficiently,” he explained. With the new contract, the city would be assigned a regular day shift deputy who will become familiar with the city ordinances. “I don’t see that we’re going to have any kind of issues with this,” Grabau said. The council members were amenable to the contract change as well.
The next Harmony City Council meeting will be held on August 8 at 7 p.m.