The Ostrander City Council met on April 4. Members present were Erin Volkart, Pam Kunert, Mayor Pat Nesler, Clerk Chris Hyrkas, and Heidi Jones. DJ Start was absent. Jason Boynton, on behalf of the Smith Schafer accounting firm, gave a summary of the annual audit of the city’s finances, which resulted in an unmodified “clean” opinion. He shared that there were no legal compliance exceptions, and the only “issue” found is in regards to segregation of duties, which is solely related to the small size of the city’s staff. He stated, “We don’t anticipate that going to change, but we do continue to report it.” He noted that General Fund receipts totaled about $225,000, and disbursements were about $203,000, so the fund balance grew by over $20,000. He also stated, “The (only) big change is that we started issuing debt for the infrastructure project”.
Two citizens addressed the council regarding vehicles on their property. One said that while he does have many vehicles on his property, “They’re all licensed and tabbed…why is that anybody else’s business?” Police Chief Mosher agreed that, “Your vehicles, if they’re all licensed, are all in compliance.” Council members explained that other citizens have complained about some properties that have many vehicles, and that cities have tried to address this issue in a variety of ways, but Ostrander did not take any action on the issue at the last meeting. Another citizen then spoke to the council about a vehicle that he has in his yard for decorative purposes, but he recently got it licensed to avoid being out of compliance with the city’s ordinance.
Citizens also addressed the council about concerns that the cat population within the city may become excessive. Mosher shared that he has gotten complaints about cats, and does have a trap that he uses when property owners request it. He pointed out that when cats are caught, they are not harmed, but rather are taken to farms or homes that are willing to keep them.
Rick Whitney (Peopleservices) spoke to the council about his request to be allowed to buy several water meters to replace some in the city that are obsolete. After discussion, the council chose to approve of him buying six of the “Badger” type meters. Whitney also pointed out that next week, the city will be doing spring flushing, and he stated that the wastewater treatment plant has been doing well.
Chief Mosher summarized March’s police activity report, including a continuing concern regarding garbage that sometimes blows into the park from the nursing home. He said on very windy days, this has been a problem. He also stated that the park needs to be “rolled” to level out the ground, but suggested the garbage situation should be solved first. He will meet with staff at the nursing home to see what can be done.
Regarding the Ruud property, the council discussed the situation in which the city became aware that the property was already within city limits, and had been since about 1935. Hyrkas pointed out that, “We’re not going to do any back taxes,” but the appropriate taxes will be collected from now on. The council agreed that since the property is within city limits, farm animals will not be allowed. The council then discussed the Miller farm building permit situation. A total fee of $401.88 will be charged for the building additions made.
The council discussed off-sale liquor sales. An email the city received states that “Minnesota Courts have stated that a city cannot prohibit opening on a day allowed by the state,… however the statute does allow for the City to restrict hours…” The council considered options regarding the off-sale section of the city’s code. After discussion, the council voted to amend the city’s code regarding off-sale to say the hours of operation and days of sale shall be those set by Minnesota Statute. Council members said this is the best option, because then the city does not need to rewrite if/when the State makes changes.
The council voted to pay a $60,000 invoice from Bolton & Menk for the design phase of the infrastructure project. The next regular meeting of the council will be Tuesday, May 2, at 6 p.m. The public is welcome. It was also pointed out that citywide Clean-Up Day will be May 6, from 9 a.m. to noon, for residents within city limits. Most items will be accepted free of charge, but some electronics and appliances will have a price associated. The city has more details on items, pricing and other info.