On April 10, the Mabel City Council held a regular city council meeting. Members in attendance included Adam Wilder, Gary Morken, City Clerk Karen Larson, Mayor Jim Westby, and Terry Torkelson. Kirsten Wyffels was absent.
Kurt Marx, representing Davy engineering, addressed the council about the previously discussed situation of some areas in town that need larger water pipe. Marx stated, “You guys have somewhere around nine blocks of undersized four-inch water main, that there’s always been the intent to replace.” He said the majority of that is on Oak Street, but also includes Prairie Street and Newburg Street.
Marx suggested that if the city wishes to pursue upgrading these areas to six-inch water main, there are several funding options the city may wish to apply for. He said the Public Facilities Authority offers low-interest loans through their “Drinking Water Revolving Fund.” He explained that applications for this funding are due soon (May 3) but that simply submitting an application would not commit the city to anything.
The other major funding option mentioned by Marx was Rural Development. He explained that RD funding requires a lengthy application process, which can take up to a year, so if Mabel pursues this funding the actual work would likely start in 2020.
Mayor Westby asked what Davy Engineering would charge to help the city submit an application for the Drinking Water Revolving Fund, and Marx stated there would be no charge, since the application requires fairly basic cost estimates. Terry Torkelson said he’s in favor of applying for this, adding, “It sounds like a no brainer.” and the council voted to approve Davy Engineering to work on submitting an application. No formal action was taken yet on RD funding but Davy Engineering will assist the city as needed, if the city chooses to pursue this.
Karen Larson updated the council that a letter has been sent out to citizens with unpaid parking tickets, urging them to promptly pay the $25 ticket before it incurs additional charges that will bring the total cost to $115. She also informed the council that it appears the city will need to consider raising sewer rates, to cover costs. She said more information will be brought to the council at an upcoming meeting.
The council discussed whether to “opt in” or “opt out” of the MiEnergy Cooperative’s Consumer Owned Generator Load Management Program for 2019. Bob Mierau said it’s something the city decides about every year, and he suggested the city opt in, because, “The end result if it saves us about roughly 25% of our annual cost… so it’s a benefit to us.” The council agreed.
Larson reminded all citizens of the upcoming citywide clean-up day. Mabel citizens are welcomed to bring items to the Wastewater Treatment Plant from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 11. Most items will be accepted at $10 per load (with a separate $10 fee for each appliance, TV or computer). Items that will not be accepted include tires, batteries, yard waste, and household hazardous wastes (paint, pesticides, motor oil). Anyone with specific questions can call city hall at (507) 493-5299. Larson also pointed out that city hydrants will be flushed April 22-26.
After discussion, the council voted to approve Katie Bergey to again work for the Summer Rec program. Karen Larson also pointed out that the city often hears questions about why Mabel residents can sign up for park & rec programs for a lower fee than non-residents. She explained that city residents are already helping to fund these programs through their tax rates. The council chose to leave the park & rec fee schedule unchanged.
A certificate was awarded to the Mabel Wastewater Treatment Plant, and its staff, from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, for “exceptional compliance” with MPCA guidelines during 2018. The council’s next regular meeting will be May 8, at 7 p.m. at the community center. The public is welcome.