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Harmony City Council approves Dobie Days for another year

Mon, Feb 20th, 2012
Posted in Harmony All

The committee that worked on a new Large Assembly Ordinance for Harmony presented their recommendation at the City Council meeting on February 14.

The ordinance is written for any large event of more than 1,000 people. It outlines the steps a person must take to apply for a license, and the conditions under which a license will be granted.

Cory Scrabeck was at the meeting to discuss his Dobie Days event and how the ordinance affects him. The ordinance mentions fencing around the area. Scrabeck said he has been using a snow fence, and that the fence is basically to guide people in the right direction.

Council member Deb Scrabeck asked about the part of the ordinance that reads there must be ten gallons of water for every person per day, and the fire alarms.

“This ordinance isn’t structured toward Dobie Days,” said Council member Jim Bakken, who was on the ordinance committee. “It’s for any large event that comes to Harmony.”

City Attorney Richard Nethercut reminded the council that the ordinance stemmed from a visit from Sheriff Darryl Jensen last fall, when he advised the council they should have something in place to handle a large crowd, especially for emergency services.

Mayor Steve Donney asked Scrabeck how many tickets he sold to Dobie Days last year. He replied he sold 1,600-1,800 on Saturday night and 600-700 on Friday night. He said the number has never exceeded 2,500.

Donney also asked Scrabeck about liability insurance, and Scrabeck replied he has what he needs for insurance under the state requirements.

Some people who live near the Dobie Days site were at the meeting to express their concerns about the event.

“I don’t care for having Dobie Days in our area,” said Clark Law. “It’s something that shouldn’t be there. In a town of 1,000 people, I don’t think we should have it in this town.”

His wife Bridget spoke up, saying that she has no problem with Dobie Days itself, just the location. “Can’t he have it somewhere else?” she asked. “This is a housing addition. I commend the kid for trying, but it’s not in a proper place. There should be a limit to how close they can be to a home.”

Bob Burkholder spoke up about the veterans in the area. He said the younger vets don’t go to the VFWs because the older vets don’t like their music. He commended Scrabeck for what he does for the vets.

“I think our veterans do enough for our country that we can put up with two days of music,” he said.

There were some people who felt that Dobie Days is not a family-friendly event, and some people who spoke up and said there are many activities over the weekend that are family-friendly.

Others spoke about how Dobie Days brings business to Harmony, not just for that weekend but all year.

Scrabeck said he has spent from $210,000-$220,000 on Dobie Days the last five years, and for him to pick up and leave is not going to happen. He added that he has three other towns interested in having him, but he wants to keep it in his home town.

“For some reason I’m getting kicked to the curb for trying to do something,” he said.

The council approved the ordinance, with the only change being the maximum number of tickets that can be sold. They increased it from 2,500 to 3,000. They also approved the liquor license and noise ordinance variance.

Mary Lou Zombory, Cliff Johanneson, and the Laws all stated they did not approve.

“We don’t matter,” said Zambory. “You’ve proved it here tonight.”

Capital Improvement Planning

Mike Bubany of David Drown and Associates came to the meeting to discuss Capital Improvement planning for Harmony, and a service that they offer to help cities do their planning.

Bubany noted that Harmony has a sizable bond coming off next year, and a TIF district downtown with a good tax base. There are many things Harmony can do. They can just let the tax rates drop, they can do some needed projects, or they can do a blended approach.

According to Bubany, the program David Drown and Associates uses is different from other programs in that it’s not just a list of future projects and their costs.

“It’s an interactive model that’s easy to understand,” said Bubany. “It allows for an infinite number of scenarios.”

Bubany demonstrated the computer spreadsheet in which they can plug in costs, year of project, how it will be paid for, and the tax rates. All of the data plugged into the spreadsheet will drive graphs that show the effects of the project on tax rates, as well as monthly utility bills.

“It’s an evolving, living document. Any changes can be plugged into it,” he explained.

Bubany said the cities that have used this program have been very successful with it.

The first step of the three-step process is to do a comparable analysis of the city, to see how they stack up to other cities of the same size in the region. Finding the strengths and weaknesses of the city can help make decisions on how to pay for the future projects.

In the next step, they get a snapshot of the city’s financial condition and look at their debt per capita. They also look at where the city is headed if they do no projects and just work on paying for what they have. In the last step, they plug the findings into the spreadsheet with new projects and purchases. They can then see the effect of the projects on tax rates and monthly bills. There is a percentage built in for inflation as well.

Bubany said the plans are not written in stone, and can be changed at any time. The cost of the program, which is $5,000, includes up to four updates. Bubany can come back any time to make changes to the plan.

“Sometimes the most beneficial part of this is not how to pay for these things, but to see what you can’t afford,” said Bubany.

The council approved purchasing the service. It will take 3-4 months to get all of the information together.

Chamber Request

Emily Ellis, Director of the Harmony Chamber of Commerce, spoke to the council about remodeling needed at the Chamber office. She said the south wall has been painted a few times, but the paint only holds up for a year or two and it starts to bubble up. She said they would like to take the south wall, add a frame, and insulate it. She added that she would texture and paint it herself. She would also like a few added electrical outlets, as the large room only has a few.

Ellis had received bids for the project, and it will cost $2,175. She asked that the city take on that expense, and the Chamber will pay for the new locking system they would like to have installed on the front door. The locking system, which will cost at least $1,500, will be programmed to lock the doors at a certain time each day.

Mayor Donney asked if having the door locked was a big issue. Deputy Jesse Grabau said it can be a nuisance, if they can’t get to it, or there is miscommunication about who is going to lock it.

The city agreed to pay for the wall remodeling.

Habitat for Humanity

Megan Grebe, Coordinator of the Fillmore County Habitat for Humanity, approached the council about waiving certain fees for the home that will be built in Harmony this spring. She had written a letter thanking the city for the office space at the Visitor’s Center, and she was requesting the building permit fee, connection fees for water, sewer and electric, and the trench for electric charge be waived. She said this is typical procedure in other communities where homes have been built.

Illg explained the homeowner is charged for the trenching of the electric, and the city is charged for the wire. Mayor Donney made a motion to waive all fees except for the trench fees, and the motion passed.

Other Business

It was agreed to allow city employees a $25 a month stipend if they would like to use their own cell phone for work and personal use. Right now the city provides them with a basic cell phone to use for work.

Liquor licenses were approved for Quarter/quarter and Kwik Trip.

The council approved having the Fillmore Central Post-Prom party at the fire hall, and donating $100.

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