The Canton City Council approved an increase to the sewer and garbage rates during its meeting on Wednesday evening, November 8. Following a public hearing on the matter, the council voted to implement its recommended option for both rates, which had been discussed over the past several months.
Former Councilmember Carl Ernst was the only citizen at the public hearing and voiced concern that the rates would be increasing so soon after an increase last year to the water rates.
Councilmember Kristy Ziegler, who serves on the utility committee, explained that the sewer fund was not sustaining itself and if the rates had been adjusted the same time as the water rates, this could have been avoided.
Current sewer rates include a $35 base charge and a user fee of $3 per 1,000 gallons used.
The new rate increases the base to $40 and sets the user fee to $5 per 1,000 gallons, resulting in a gain of about $5,000. The new rates will go into effect on January 1, 2024.
As for the rates for waste management, the council proposed adding 75 cents to the cost of each tote, garbage and recycling. A small tote will cost $11.45 a month; medium totes will be $12.97 a month and the large tote will be $14.46 per month. The rate for a recycling tote will be $4.75 a month.
Because each customer has a garbage tote and a recycling tote, this would result in a revenue increase of $1 or $1.50 per customer each month.
In his monthly report, Mayor Josh Nordsving brought up the topic of unfinished streets and alleys, as well as a couple of land parcels that belong to the city, but are not being utilized.
While it was agreed that further investigation is needed, Nordsving suggested that the city should address these parcels, some of which could be returned to private property and be added onto the tax rolls. Others, such as grass alleys or undeveloped platted streets could possibly be modified to easements instead of keeping them as city property.
Once he was made aware of one unfinished, platted street near Tim Fossum’s property that was causing issue with signage, Nordsving and City Clerk Anne Koliha investigated similar areas and found that there are several that could be addressed.
“If they have gravel on them, I would suggest we leave them,” Nordsving said about the alleys, “but if we do not maintain them, I would rather see them collecting property taxes.
Nordsving and Koliha will look into this issue further and report back to the council at a future meeting.
Clerk Anne Koliha told the council she has been continuing to work on the 2024 budget, trying to reduce the tax levy that will be imposed. The council had set the preliminary levy in September, with instructions to Koliha to try and bring it down to 8% or lower. She also noted she has been working with Public Works Director Jon Nordsving on a grant application to pay for new upgrades to the fluoridation equipment. Finally, she reminded the council that Josh Nordsving and Jason Magnussen will be representing the Canton City Council at the meeting with the Mabel-Canton School Board and Mabel City Council on Wednesday, November 15.
In the public works report, Jim Davis reported he and Jon Nordsving had been hauling sludge, trimming trees and preparing the trucks and loader for the upcoming snow season. He noted there are a couple of hazardous trees in the community, on personal property, that would fall onto city property and/or streets. Koliha noted that she inquired with a neighboring town regarding their policy for situations like this and, because the trees need to be removed by a company that is “insured and bonded,” they send a letter to the property owner informing them the city will hire someone to come in and remove the tree, and the city will charge the property owner. If the property owner can’t afford to pay it up front, the city can assess the cost to the residents’ property taxes. The council consensus was that it liked that process for dealing with the hazardous trees.
Finally, the council reminded residents that alternative side parking for snow removal has gone into effect as of November 1.
The winter parking ordinance continues through March, regardless of the weather forecast, between the hours of 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. Under this parking system, no vehicle is permitted to be parked on the even-numbered side of any street on even-numbered days, and no vehicle can be parked on the odd-numbered side of any street on odd-numbered days. Remember, you are parking for the calendar day at 2 a.m. So, at 2 a.m. on November 1 (an odd-numbered day), it becomes a violation to be parked on the odd side of the street until 8 a.m.
Offenders may receive a $25 citation per offense.
In other business, the council approved a resolution to certify unpaid utility charges for Jamie and Holly Knutson, in the amount of $2,001.46, to their property taxes.
The council approved the 2023 holiday adopt-a-planter contest and approved providing Canton Dollars for prize money.
The PERA benefit level for the fire department was increased to $900 a year of service, currently set at $600, to take the benefit to the level where the department can fully utilize the state aid provided.
The city accepted a $3,000 donation from the Canton Fire Relief Association, which will cover the increase in the PERA benefit.
Finally, the city approved a $3,000 contribution to PERA on behalf of the Canton Fire Department.
The next meeting of the Canton City Council will be held on Wednesday, December 13, at 6 p.m.