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Rushford Village hits at ordinance update, budget, road projects

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Aug 23rd, 2013
Posted in Rushford Village Government

By Kirsten Zoellner

On the suggestion of city attorney Tom Manion, the city has been looking to tighten up definitions to some of its ordinances, looking at what would be defendable in a legal issue. An ongoing complaint about barking dogs by three south Rushford, Minn. neighbors may have finally gotten some shot at closure. The council has passed further definition of the ordinance, including definition of excessive barking and aggressive behavior. The update to the ordinance is effective with publication of the change in the city’s designated news outlet.

An invitation was made to the party in question, but they did not attend the August 20 council meeting. A complaint was made by a fourth neighbor last week. “We’ve sent a letter. I got a phone call disputing the facts set forth in the letter,” said attorney Manion. “We brought in a deputy from the Sheriff’s office. His involvement may have caused the behavior to change. But our ordinance is still vague.”

Manion produced a model ordinance from the League of Minnesota Cities which further defined excessive barking as, ‘habitual barking or cries; barking for a duration of three minutes with less than one minute of interruption.’ “If they challenge us, we can say, ‘Here’s the excessive definition. Comply.”

Mayor Dale Schwanke was adamant about bettering the ordinance. “If you don’t have enough teeth in it to enforce an ordinance, it’s not worth having. It’s at a point where we need to do something positive, something we can defend.”

The penalty for failure to comply is also listed within the ordinance. “Each day shall be a separate offense. A misdemeanor offense, it will be punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail,” added Manion. He also pointed out that this is not a case of selective enforcement, but that the city is simply ensuring it has an ordinance it can enforce. Should the issue continue, citizens are encouraged to call the Fillmore County Sheriff’s office and make a formal complaint.

In addition to the lengthy discussion on the ordinance modification, the city also discussed the budget at length. The state has determined that further detailing of funds is needed, confusing an already complicated matter. The good news is that the city is currently not spending its entire budget and has been proactive in setting funds aside for projects. Final budget numbers will be approved at the September 3 meeting, certifying the preliminary levy to the county by September 15.

A particular note of interest in the budget talks was potential road upgrades. “When do you bite the bullet and recognize the need as a reality,” asked Mayor Schwanke.

Two citizens requested the council extend consideration of road work to include past Skipper Rislov’s place on Ridgeline Road. Based on numbers from similar projects, Schwanke estimated that could tack on an additional $25,000 to the already large project.

Discussion over paving of County Line Road, past Laura Lane has already been recommended by several residents, prompting to the council to take a mini road tour of all candidate roads last week. “We’ve received preliminary estimates to get engineer’s recommendations for the road,” said Schwanke.

According to the mayor, two firms, HKS and Yaggy Colby, have given widely varying estimates for design fees, soil borings, and more. “What they find is a whole different matter,” said Schwanke. “If we have to have them, let’s do them right. Let’s do what we have to do and bring the engineers down here for a look. Let’s proceed at a reasonable pace.”

“I’m wondering if this is really the time to do this, right now,” added councilor Dennis Overland. “We’re having more and more questions come up.” If the council would move forward with the roads at the top of its priority list, including Whitmore, Prospect, Goodrich, and County Line Drive, the price tag hovers at $488.000. Further discussion will continue at the next meeting as they try to hammer out the details.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 3, at 7pm., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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