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Harmony sets levy at $612,942

Fri, Sep 12th, 2008
Posted in Government

The Harmony City Council passed a resolution for the tax levy for the preliminary 2009 budget. City Administrator Jerome Illg presented the council with the proposed budget and highlighted the changes from the 2008 budget. The total tax capacity levy is at $612,942, which is a 17 percent increase from 2008. The council is still going to work on the details of the budget and make some more cuts to get that number lower.

Illg said he does not have all of the tax capacity figures yet, but assumes that property values have gone up over the year. He is planning on having the figures for the next council meeting in October so they can begin the process of making cuts.

Wastewater Treatment Plant

City Employee Chris Johnson reported that the manhole in the ditch near Torgerson Auto was repaired. During an earlier smoke test, problems were found with that hole, which was thought to be the cause of the sewer backup during the heavy rains in June. Todd Arlander from Bonestroo came to Harmony and they tried to flood the north lift station where the problems had occurred and were unable to do so. Johnson said Arlander feels good that the problem has been solved. He will come down to check things out if there are more heavy rains.

Johnson said the trash pump they ordered from Kingsley's arrived last week and they will be doing a test run with it soon. He noted that as soon as there are four inches of rain, they will start pumping.

Johnson also mentioned that he had received two bids for hauling sludge. One person had all of the equipment needed and his bid was five cents a gallon. Another person does not have all the equipment needed but has a truck to haul 3350 gallons, and the bid was for $150 a load, or about 4.5 cents a gallon. Johnson estimated they have around 85-90,000 gallons to haul. He is going to follow up on another bid that was for one cent a gallon plus fuel costs. He is also going to look at the prices for getting a pump that they can have permanently.

Letter About Sewer Issues

Elaine Michel sent a letter to the city regarding sewer problems that Mike and Becca Ramsey have had at their home. Johnson explained that while the Ramseys were digging in their yard they discovered a septic tank. Michel's letter stated that she had lived in that house for 16 years and had been billed for city sewer that entire time. She was requesting her money back with interest for those years.

City Attorney Richard Nethercut said there were two things to think about. One is that city residents are required to be hooked up to city sewer, so if they would have found out earlier that they had been using a septic tank, they would have had to hook up to city sewer and pay the money anyway. Another thing he brought up is a statute of limitations, and he said this case is beyond a reasonable time for a claim. The council and Nethercut understood the motivation to write the letter. The Ramseys filled in the septic tank and hooked up to city sewer.

Electrical Upgrades

Mayor Dave Kingsley spoke to Stuart Morem about the costs of some electrical upgrades in town. The Harmony Area Chamber of Commerce had requested that permanent outlets be put in Selvig Park along the highway for vendors during the Fourth of July celebration. Morem's estimate had been around $11,000, and Kingsley wanted to look at a less expensive option. He suggested to the council that they could put up an electrical box on a pole near the swing set and have the vendors all hook up to that. That option will have to be discussed with the Chamber.

They also looked at the cost of putting a light near the Hobo Park, as there has been some vandalism there. The estimate for that was $2,500. Kingsley suggested that they forget the idea for now until they have some money to put up some street lights in the area. Council member Gerry Shuck asked if they could just put up a pole across the trail from the Hobo Park and put a light on it. Johnson said they had some poles and lights and were going to look into doing that and saving some money.

Other Business

• Council member Robert Smith, speaking for the Park Board, said they were trying to come up with some ideas and money for renovating the restrooms at the north park. According to Smith, the Park Board has about $13,500 set aside and may have more if they budget for it next year. The estimate for doing some renovations to the existing restroom was around $19,000. To put up a brand new facility would be about $25,000. Right now they are just looking at some of their options.

• Illg stated that work has begun on the Community Center. Paperwork problems from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) delayed the work a few weeks. The completion date for the projects is December 25.

• The council met the new Deputy Sheriff, Les Ladewig, Jr., who replaced Derek Fjugelstad.

• Johnson said they are going to lock up the restrooms at Selvig Park during the school year and only open it when needed during that time.

The council approved the following:

• The first payment of $31,976.47 for the Community Center parking lot

• A contract with SEMCAC for energy assistance

• A contract with MMUA (Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association.

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