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Harmony approves license for The Dog Pad


Fri, Nov 15th, 2013
Posted in Harmony Government

The kennel license application from Paula Fisher was approved at the Harmony City Council meeting on November 12. Fisher will have a dog kennel at the same location as the Harmony Greenhouse and Floral. The Dog Pad, LLC, will be a doggy day care, a place for people to bring their dogs to be boarded for the day or for more long term. There will be a fenced-in area for the dogs to be outside as well.

The council also approved the kennel ordinance fee of $50 per year.

The current animal kennel ordinance was updated as well. Previously, the ordinance did not allow for more than four dogs, and there were no kennels allowed in city limits.

The new ordinance defined the word “kennel” and “commercial kennel.” It states that a person must have a license to have a kennel for cats and/or dogs, and the kennel can only be used for the purpose of selling, boarding, breeding, training, or grooming.

Fisher said she will have a temporary fenced-in area for the winter until a new fence can be installed in the spring.

Utility assessments

A public hearing was held at the beginning of the meeting to discuss utility assessments. City Administrator Jerome Illg explained there is one property owner with an outstanding utility bill that would normally be assessed to property taxes.

Illg explained this property owner is a landlord, and the bill was owed by the tenant. The tenant moved out in February, paid up their utility bill, and their utility deposit was refunded. The city later found out from the landlord that the tenants were responsible for the property through March according to their lease.

Illg said they no longer take the tenants’ word for it when this happens, and always check with the landlord, although he doesn’t feel the city should have to do that. There was some discussion about what is the responsibility of the landlords, and some discussion about raising the utility deposit in case things like this happen.

Council member Lynn Mensink asked if an increase in the deposit would make it cost-prohibitive for people to move to Harmony. She noted that many people live paycheck to paycheck. She wondered if this was a common enough occurrence that it would justify increasing the deposit.

City Attorney Richard Nethercut said it is not the city’s obligation to get involved in what is between the landlord and the tenant.

Illg then noted that according to state statute, the city cannot assess the electric portion of a bill to property taxes. Since this property is heated with electricity, the entire utility bill is electric, and cannot be assessed.

The utility committee will be looking into the issue of the deposit and assessments.

New TIF district

Chris Giesen from the EDA (Economic Development Authority) spoke to the council about creating a new TIF (Tax Increment Finance) district. He explained that Harmony Enterprises would like to expand their building on the north side about 5,800 square feet, and have made this request.

Giesen explained the expansion will create jobs and increase the tax base as well. Mike Bubany of David Drown Associates has been working with them on this.

“It’s about a $65,000 request,” said Giesen. “But that’s money that will come back to you in the future.”

Giesen asked the council to pass a resolution setting a public hearing for the January council meeting. The council can approve the district at that time if they choose to, and they will find out more about the administrative costs. Giesen added that the set-up costs, usually around $7,500, will be covered by the project.

Illg said this district would allow some flexibility for new businesses to be included. The council approved the public hearing.

Well project grant

Giesen also spoke to the council about a grant opportunity that could help the city pay for a new well. He explained the grant comes from a DEED (Department of Employment and Economic Development) program, and would pay 50 percent for an infrastructure project.

The city has spoken of a new well in the future, but Giesen sees this as an opportunity they shouldn’t pass up. It might move the timeline up for the project, but it would still be late 2014 or early 2015 before anything would be done. He added that the project at Harmony Enterprises adds to the need for the new well, as their project would include taking care of some drainage issues. The council approved going for the grant.

Purchase of new truck

The council approved the purchase of a new truck for city use. Two state bids had been received from Midway Ford Commercial and Ranger GM. The bid from Midway Ford was the lowest at $20,690.72 for a 2014 F-150 Regular Cab 4x4.

Illg noted that he spoke with both car dealers in town. He showed them the state bids and gave them a chance to offer a bid, but they chose not to.

Resident Rehab Grant

The EDA is going to reapply for a small cities block grant on behalf of the city of Harmony. Giesen explained the city did not get the grants last year, but some changes have been made to improve the chances. This time the focus is on a smaller section of Harmony, and this time the city will provide a match of $25,000.

The small cities block grant helps homeowners improve their homes with weatherization, energy efficiency, siding, roofs, windows, etc. The homeowners must fall within income guidelines and have a need.

Giesen said if the new application is approved, it will provide approximately $20,000 to eight homes in southeast Harmony.

The $25,000 match of city funds was approved.

Assessment Policy

Illg presented the council with an assessment policy to look at, stating that the city was lacking a formal policy. With the policy presented, for street projects, 40 percent of the street costs will be assessed to property owners, and 100 percent of utility costs. Previously, the city has assessed 25 percent of both street and utilities. No final decision was made on the policy.

Budget

Illg asked the council to give any input on the budget before the final decision must be made in December. Right now if there is no change made to the preliminary budget approved in September, there will be a 4.27 percent decrease in the levy.

Other Business

Steve Cremer has been on the EDA board since 1999, and he will be leaving at the end of the year. The EDA will be looking for a new board member.

The city donated $500 to the Park Board for the installation of an ice rink. They are looking at the empty lot next to the new parking lot downtown as a possible location.

A cost-sharing agreement was approved with Fillmore County for the 1st Ave. SW street project.

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