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Public Hearings, but No Public

Fri, May 2nd, 2003
Posted in Features

The Rushford City Council started out their April 28 meeting with two public hearings, but there was little sign of a public to hear from. The first hearing of the night concerned the re-adoption of the Minnesota State Building Code. Harvey Klungvedt of the Planning Commission recommended the adoption of the code, and no one from the public came to voice any objections. After closing the hearing, the council voted to re-adopt the code and appointed Construction Management Services of Rochester as building official. The council then opened the public hearing on water rate changes. First the council reviewed the water system analysis from BDM Consulting Engineers and the eight-year water utility budget estimates. Larry Bartelson, city administrator, then presented the proposed rate change. Currently, water customers pay $8.70 base rate and $2.00 per thousand gallons for every thousand over 24,000. The suggested new rate is $9.10 base rate and $2.10 per thousand gallons for every thousand over 18,000. Bartelson also told the council that he would suggest another increase by next May to $9.95 base rate and $2.30 per thousand gallons with no gallons included in the base rate. Before opening the hearing to public comment, the council discussed the effects of the proposed rate changes on the customers. Bartelson illustrated the effect of the rate change on a customer using 24,000 gallons of water. The new rate would mean an increase of $17.40 per year for that customer. Customers using 72,000 gallons would pay an additional $22.20 per year. Pointing out that sewer rates and real estate taxes are both going up as well, Mayor Ted Roberton asked that the council "consider the same kind of program used for reduced lunches at school, a means by which people with limited funds can apply for a reduced rate." Larry Bartelson informed the council that there was actually a decrease in water usage after the last rate increase in July with the city taking in less revenue. The public was then invited to comment, but no one was there to speak on the matter. The hearing was closed and the new rates were established ($9.20 base rate and $2.10 per thousand gallons over 18,000).More WaterWith the new water rate in place, the council took the next step to get rid of the dreaded red water problem. Choosing the least expensive fix suggested by BDM, the council opted to add an in-line recirculation pump with a total project cost of $211,120 (total annual cost of $29,340). The writing of specifications for the project, necessary to begin the bidding process, will cost about $18,000.Council member Nancy Benson asked for the installation of water meters be completed as soon as possible. Bartelson added this should be done before the next rate change. Benson also pointed out that the approved, and budgeted, painting of the water tower had not been done yet. Council member Ron Mierau answered, "We put all capital expenditures on hold because of the state budget." Since these projects did not use LGA money and the money was already allocated for the projects, the council decided to complete them. AirportThe council discussed the use of the new airport building by the public. The suggestion was made that clubs be allowed to use the building, but not individuals. No alcohol would be permitted, in line with the city policy of no alcohol on any city property. Mike Thern of Rushford Aviation reported that at least four people were interested in forming a business "corporation" to deal with the city on building a ten-hangar facility at the airport. The group would advance money to the city; the city could then apply for 50/50 cost sharing money available from the state for site preparation. Other business Other business addressed by the council included:• opted to accept (if offered) a proposal to repair the tennis courts (ten year warranty, $49,570 price tag);•heard that the Electric Commission’s plan to hold a public hearing May 28th at city hall on the purchase of back-up generators;• accepted Meghan O’Donnell’s proposal to add a baby changing station at the pool rest rooms; and•heard that Tony Heiden had accepted the city’s offer of a 50/50 split on the cost of cleanup and repairs from a frozen sewer line.

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