During the Mabel City Council meeting on December 11, citizen Dustin Tollefsrud addressed the council regarding his wish to host a music festival in Mabel. All members were present (Adam Wilder, Mayor Jim Westby, City Clerk/Treasurer Karen Larson, Gary Morken, Terry Torkelson, and Kirsten Wyffels).
Tollefsrud said he would like to hold the festival either on the weekend of Steam Engine Days, or on a weekend close to that. He said he would plan to hold the festival “in 2020, or more likely, 2021” due to the need for time to handle all of the logistics involved. He said the plans would include alcohol being sold. Tollefsrud asked for council concerns or feedback.
Mayor Westby asked about funding and what Tollefsrud would do regarding a rainout, and Tollefsrud said he is still working on adequate insurance coverage to help with such contingencies. Tollefsrud said he envisions either having the event in downtown Mabel, or at the Historical Society location. After discussion, Gary Morken stated his opinion that, “I think the Historical Society would be a great place for it,” due to the natural amphitheater surroundings there. Council members said that any non-profit group could apply for a temporary liquor license, to be able to serve alcohol at such an event. Mayor Westby summarized that, if a temporary liquor license is approved, “I don’t think there’d be any problem here having it (the event) approved.”
The council discussed a letter the city received from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), sated November 19, 2019. It was a “Letter of Warning” regarding a recent event in which some wastewater was discharged without being first run through the treatment plant. Jeff Rein explained that he was responsible for handling that event, and said, “We took the samples immediately, but in the chaos did not notify the (MPCA) duty officer… as quickly as they wanted.” He added that “This was my issue” and said he views it as a learning experience, to help the city avoid any future lapses in following the regulations during such events. He said the city is implementing new standard practices to assure compliance.
Mayor Westby and Karen Larson shared details of a complaint received by the city regarding a parking ticket given to a visitor who was in violation of, but unaware of, the city’s winter parking rules. Mayor Westby said the complainant did pay the fine eventually. Council members discussed that perhaps the city should take more steps to assure citizens and visitors could be made aware of the parking rules. Larson will check with the city of Canton, where signs have been installed about parking rules, and with the city attorney. The could considered putting up a sign on each road into town, with Mayor Westby estimating that would mean eight such signs. No formal action was taken at this time.
Regarding the city budget, Larson informed the council that whereas the original approved levy was for a 7% increase from the previous year, when she worked on the budget she was able to find savings, which brought the final levy amount to an increase of just 3.03%. The council unanimously approved the final budget and final levy as submitted.
Larson then informed the council that because of recent local events, bonding of city staff has been “a hot topic” in the county. She said that currently, Mabel has five staff bonded, with each of the five carrying an insurance premium of over $100 annually. The amount of coverage is $25,000 on one policy and $10,000 on the other four. She said she recently found out that the city could get a blanket policy offering $1 million in bonding coverage for a total annual premium of $755, and she said it would also cover the mayor and council. Council members called it a “no brainer” and unanimously approved switching to the $1 million bonding.
The council voted to approve Jeff Rein to a two-year term as fire chief. The council also held the annual “Truth in Taxation” hearing as a part of this council meeting, but no citizens spoke on the topic. Citizens are reminded that the city’s garbage/recycling pickup regularly scheduled for December 25 and January 1 will be moved to December 26 and January 2. The council’s next regular meeting will be January 8, at 7 p.m. at the community center. The public is welcome.