On August 14, the Mabel City Council held a regular city council meeting. Members in attendance included Adam Wilder, Mayor Jim Westby, City Clerk Karen Larson, Gary Morken and Terry Torkelson. Kirsten Wyffels was absent. No visitors were on hand to address the council.
There was discussion about replacing the city’s 2013 Case loader. According to Jeff Rein, it is in need of several new parts or repairs, and the city had received a price quote on getting a new Case 570N EP tractor loader from Titan. Larson stated, “We would trade in our 2013 Case loader…so then what we’d owe is $50,967.” She said with four-year financing, at a 4.3% interest rate through Merchants Bank, the budget will see no increase from current spending, and possibly a small decrease.
Morken asked about the number of hours of use that the 2013 loader has, and if the trade-in value is enough. Rein said the city doesn’t have a record of the number of hours the loader has been running, but he added that Titan agreed to hold the quoted price until this council meeting, but that if the city doesn’t accept this offer, the price will go up roughly $5,000 to $6,000 due to new steel tariffs that went into effect August 1. Rein said that would affect prices with any dealership, not just Titan.
Morken voiced his feeling that the city should have gotten a price from another dealer, for comparison purposes, and he asked whether the city would benefit more from a backhoe or a backblade accessory. Rein said the city rarely needs a backhoe, whereas the backblade is used frequently, on alleys and for snow removal. The council voted to approve the trade-in and purchase as proposed, with Morken voting against the motion.
Mayor Westby informed the council that there will be a retirement party in honor of Donna Johnson, who will be retiring after a lengthy career as library director. The party will be 4-6 p.m on September 14 at the Community Center. The city will be publicizing the event, so that all interested persons can attend.
Jeff Rein gave a report on the public works department. He stated that he continues to see violations of the city’s ordinance against grass clippings being deposited onto city streets. He said he has witnessed citizens who are purposely mowing and blowing grass into the street. He said this practice causes two problems: grass clippings can cause a hazard to bicycles and motorcycles, and the grass can clog up the city’s storm sewer.
Rein also spoke about the ongoing problem of excess water coming into the city’s water treatment plant. He said one of the causes of this is citizens who have a sump pump that drains into the sanitary sewer system.
The council discussed both of these concerns, and how to get citizens to take the issues seriously. Larson suggested a letter from the city attorney could be sent to violators, and fines could be imposed thereafter. She will consult with the city attorney on both issues.
Rein brought up the proposed agreement with MERC (Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation). He explained, “What the MERC agreement is, is they’re going to come in and essentially do to their gas meters what we did to our water meters. They’re going to put in all new remote systems.” He went on to explain that MERC plans to install a sensor/meter reader on a pole behind the fire hall. Rein’s only concern is to make sure there will be no interference between the MERC equipment and the fire department’s equipment. The council approved the MERC agreement, contingent on assuring no electronic communication interference between MERC and the fire department.
Mayor Westby informed the council that Bryce Lange resigned as EDA Director, with is final day being August 12. Larson said the EDA will make a recommendation about hiring a replacement, and that will be brought to the city council for consideration.
Larson shared a congratulatory letter and certificate Mabel received from the Minnesota Department of Health. The city received a “50 year award” for consistent water fluoridation (1968 through 2018). The letter stated in part, “The prevention of tooth decay through community water fluoridation is recognized by the CDC as one of the 10 great achievements in public health of the 20th century.”
The council approved, as requested, zoning permits for Brandon and Ashley Wangen (putting up a privacy fence), Brian Street (carport), and Mabel-Canton School (secured entryway). The council also voted to grant a temporary liquor license to the Mabel Lions Club for September 26 and November 21. The council also accepted the resignation of Penniann Ramirez from the library. The council’s next regular meeting will be September 11, at 7 p.m at the community center. The public is welcome.