During the regular city council meeting on July 8, the Mabel Council again discussed the city’s 2008 Ford pickup, and whether to fix it or replace it. Jeff Rein informed the council that he has checked around for prices of a new pickup, and he found out that currently, Chevy and Ford trucks are “about four to five months out” due to coronavirus related delays in fulfilling orders for new trucks. He said the city crew has been “test driving” a diesel Dodge Ram pickup from Sleepy Hollow for the past week.
Council members asked about the 2008 Ford, and Rein replied, “It’s getting worse, which is why we haven’t driven it at all.” Rein added that if the city chose to buy the Dodge, “We might get the most bang for our buck, on trade-in, if we go with the diesel because that motor is a good motor.”
Gary Morken stated his opinion, saying, “Well, I think it’s a bad idea to stick any more money into that Ford because you’ll never get any of it back.” He then asked how the city would pay for the Dodge diesel. Karen Larson said, “Something like this, I would split between multiple funds… it’s used for all city operations.” She said there are enough available funds to purchase the truck without financing it. The council voted unanimously to purchase the Dodge, at a cost of $51,417.
The council also discussed the bids that were submitted for a tanker truck for the fire department. The lowest bid, from Custom Fabricating, was $128,500. This would include the tank and the actual building of the truck. The chassis would be a separate cost, and is expected to be around $80,000 to $85,000. The council voted to accept the bid from Custom Fab.
The council returned to a previous matter regarding whether or not to perform utility disconnects when citizens are delinquent in paying. The council had previously voted to suspend disconnections, but to resume charging late fees. Larson explained that Minnesota Governor Walz has highly recommended that cities not perform water disconnections “just because with COVID, you can’t wash your hands and sanitize properly if you don’t have your utilities.” The council chose to continue holding off on disconnections until further notice, but Mabel will continue to charge late fees.
The council approved five zoning permit requests from citizens asking to make various additions or improvements to their properties. A zoning permit request from Adam Tollefson (to put in a “hoop building”) was not approved, however. Larson explained, “Right now, that piece of property is zoned light industrial, and with the setbacks, it doesn’t work. He’s requesting that the zoning gets changed to commercial. So in order to do that, we’d have to have a public hearing.” The council chose to set a public hearing on the matter immediately prior to the next council meeting, on August 12.
Mayor Jim Westby addressed the council, saying he wanted to clear up a false rumor regarding the liquor license held by the local American Legion. He stated, “There’s been a lot of scuttlebutt about the American Legion not having proper licenses for the Legion Club… the licenses are hanging on the door… all their licenses are current.” Mayor Westby also stated that there are still some properties in the city that need to be further cleaned up. Westby and council members also said they’ve noticed increased numbers of rabbits and cats loose in Mabel.
Karen Larson voiced a “thank you” to the council for allowing the city’s summer recreation program to open up. She said, “The response from the parents has been very positive.” She added that kickball has been particularly popular, and she hopes it could become a permanent part of the summer rec program.
The council’s next regular meeting will be August 12, at 7 p.m. in the community center.