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Board of Review at Harmony City Council meeting

Fri, May 17th, 2013
Posted in Harmony Government

The annual Board of Review was held before the regular Harmony City Council meeting on May 14. Cindy Blagsvedt from the County Assessor’s office summarized the sales study that was conducted on residential, commercial and agricultural sales in Fillmore County. There were 158 residential sales in the county, and 14 in Harmony. There were 13 commercial sales in the county and 46 agricultural.

Tom Raedeke from the Department of Revenue explained the average sales ratio that is used, and how Blagsvedt must value properties at 90-105 percent of market value. If it is more or less than that, there must be an adjustment.

The total value of all property in Harmony comes to $55,975,100. There was $84,800 in new construction for residential in Harmony, and $25,900 commercial.

Blagsvedt explained how commercial values are reached using the examples of two businesses in Harmony.

Dave Kiehne and his daughter, Chris Torgerson approached Blagsvedt with a question on how the asphalt was assessed on the commercial property at Torgerson Auto. Kiehne said he came to the meeting last year with concerns about how high his assessment was, and it was lowered. This year the assessment was the same at $43,000, and he asked to have it lowered to $26,500 again.

“That lot has lost value,” said Kiehne. “I think the valuation needs to be looked at a little further.”

Blagsvedt explained the assessment on asphalt is done exactly the same for every property, and she recommended not making any changes to it. They look at replacement costs and apply a depreciation across the board.

Torgerson commented that it cost them $30,000 to put the black top in, and they were now being assessed $43,000. “It makes no sense,” she said.

The council passed a motion to leave the assessment as is.

Lynn Arnold had a question about his two buildings downtown, the post office building and the Big Woods Graphics next to it. The value on one property went down a little and one went up. Blagsvedt said he could come see her at another time and discuss it.

1st Avenue Project

The council decided which sidewalks would be replaced and which ones would not along 1st Avenue when the county works on that street next summer.

Brett Grabau of Bonestroo, Inc., along with someone from the county and City Administrator Jerome Illg, marked several curb sections that need to be replaced along that street. Grabau said there were so many different sections that it would be cheaper to replace all of it instead of different pieces.

The county has decided to do a reclaim and repave from Center Street to 3rd Street, and a mill and overlay for the rest of the street. Grabau recommended they urge the county to remove all curb and gutter for those first three blocks. The county is sharing the cost 50/50, so it will be an extra cost for the city, but a major improvement according to Grabau.

The council decided to replace the sidewalk on both sides of the street for those first three blocks, and replace only on the west side from the third block through the fifth block.

Wood Carvings

Stan Maroushek of Slim’s Woodshed is working on a project to add wooden statues to downtown Harmony. Maroushek said he would like to draw more people in to the downtown area. He has received a grant for $5,000 to build a statue that will be placed in the Cancer Park downtown. He is also getting a grant that will total $13,500 for two statues that will be placed on the northwest and southwest corners of the parking lot behind the bank. Another statue in the near future will be placed at the Visitor’s Center, and one in front of Andy Batstone’s tax office.

Illg explained $2,000 of that grant will be a match from the Harmony Arts Board, and $1,500 a contribution.

There was some question about maintenance costs. Maroushek brought up the Hobo Camp, which has suffered vandalism. He said they should consider bronzing the statues there in the near future, as he can get grants to preserve them.

Lynn Mensink, who is on the arts board, said everyone there believes it’s a good idea, and the only concern was the cost of maintenance.

The statues will have a large concrete base so they will be difficult to move. The council will have to approve the locations before they are placed.

Building and Maintenance Report

City maintenance employee Chris Johnson told the council about the wastewater plant pump and compressors that were recently installed. There will be an added installation cost of about $5,000 over the cost that was presented to the board last month.

There will be asphalt patches needed on streets in town that will cost $5,900. Also, the south part of the approach to Kwik Trip has deteriorated considerably. Grabau will look at what can be done to fix it and give a recommendation to the council.

There will be some dust control done in the same two spots that were done in previous years; an area by the tree dump, and an area near Solberg Welding. The council approved three passes of tree sapping at $1.55 per foot.

Garbage billing

Tom Jarland attended the meeting to discuss garbage and recycling billing for people who are gone for the winter. There are several people who live in southern states during the winter months, and still have to pay their monthly garbage and recycling fees.

“In my estimation, it isn’t right,” said Jarland. He added that people shouldn’t have to pay for a service they are not using.

Illg said they can only report changes to Waste Management every quarter. Past experiences with changes have not always been good, as there have been reports of an empty house or someone being gone, but there is garbage on the curb. Illg explained that when Waste Management goes through the town, they pick up garbage wherever they see it, and they are not aware of who is paying for the service.

There is also the issue of vacant homes. Normally garbage services can be stopped if all utilities are turned off.

All residential homes pay a base garbage and recycling fee, and they also pay for garbage bags, so people who have more garbage pay more than others.

Illg said it would be difficult administratively to make changes, but he will look into ways it can be done.

New playground equipment

The playground equipment at Selvig Park was installed, and there have been a lot of positive comments. The Park Board gave thanks to all the volunteers and city employees that helped with installation. Council member Debbie Swenson said the city should consider closing the gap between the money that was raised for the project and the total cost, which is a gap of around $6,500.

Harmony Enterprises

transformer upgrade

Illg reported that Harmony Enterprises will be upgrading their service to 2000 amp, which means installing underground cable, transformer, a new enclosure, and redo or splice existing cable. Tri-County Electric Policy says the member must contribute 40 percent of the cost to upgrade, but that does not include the cost of the transformer itself.

The council approved the rebuilt transformer option, with a total cost of $12,800, and Harmony Enterprise’s cost will be $3,200.

Schmidt Roofing

Darren and Cory Schmidt of Schmidt Roofing spoke to the council about hail damage done to the roof of Heritage Grove. There was damage done to both the main building and the garages, and Schmidt Roofing looked at it and came up with an estimate for the insurance company. According to Darren Schmidt, the insurance company approved the estimate of $115-125,000. He said the insurance estimator used their estimate.

Schmidt told the council if they were chosen to do the project, they could have it done in three days. They are licensed and insured and follow OSHA guidelines, and have been in business for 22 years.

There was a question about putting it out for bids because the project is more than $100,000, and Illg said he would check on it. The city will only have to pay the $500 deductible regardless of who does the job. The EDA will handle the issue at the next EDA meeting.

Other Business

The EDA is in the process of reviewing a purchase agreement for Heritage Grove. There will most likely be a joint meeting with the city council at some point to discuss this if everything works out.

The council approved the bid for a Life Line ambulance for $107,879, with $65,000 for trade in on the old ambulance. Gary Nolan said they decided to go with a four-wheel drive this time.

Keith McIntosh of the Conservation Club said they will be having a beer tent again on July 4. The council approved the noise permit and liquor license.

Seal coating bids were approved for 2013 scheduled improvements at $59,462.16.

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