The October 13 Harmony City council meeting opened with a public forum. Council member Deb Swenson was absent. Harmony residents Ron Gregg and Dan Tiffenbacher brought their concerns about the 2021 tax levy to the council as they felt that the increase of 10.2% set at the September meeting was high. City Administrator Devin Swanberg assured them that it’s customary for the city to set the levy at the highest amount allowed because, as the budget is reworked and pared down, the levy can always be lowered, but it can never go higher than for the amount it was originally approved. There will be an update on the budget numbers at the November council meeting.
Rodney Hebrink asked the council to look into the zoning status of his property as it sits in Industrial Park. He said that at one time he was told that he could not rebuild his home if something were to happen to it due to its location. City attorney Greg Schieber and Administrator Swanberg will look into the matter and meet with him next week to discuss their findings.
The consent agenda was approved and included the minutes of the September 8 regular meeting as well as the September 28 special meeting. A COVID leave policy was approved so that employees can use COVID CARES grant funds for lost time due to the virus rather than using their PTO.
A public hearing to discuss the 2020 street project assessment was set for the beginning of the next council meeting on November 10. A resolution to collect delinquent utilities and services was approved.
Pay request #5 for the street project from Stantec in the amount of $380,576.60 was approved and is the last payment for 2020. The project has been completed.
Fire Chief Rod Johnson presented a proposal for the purchase of a new rescue truck in the amount of $255,000 to the council for approval. He noted that the total is significantly less than the maximum amount of $365,000 that the council approved at last month’s meeting. Chris Giesen will be applying for grants to help with the cost. The request was approved with Mayor Steve Donney abstaining.
At the September meeting, the council had agreed to using some of the Minnesota CARES funds to purchase a portable sound system. Swanberg presented a quote from Sound and Media Solutions in the amount of $11,428.69, which was approved.
The CARES funds are also being used to purchase PPE for local businesses. As the city can only order small amounts at a time, they are slowly working on building the supply so it can be dispersed.
The city’s utility locator was recently found to not be working correctly. Swanberg presented the council with a quote of approximately $4,500 for a new one which the council approved.
The city’s emergency system was checked last week and passed inspection.
The council reviewed and approved the Dairyland power project timeline and agreement as submitted by the Harmony EDA.
Council member Lynn Mensink gave the Park Board report. Discussions are ongoing about the splash pad. Since water will be installed for it, the board thought it would be a good time to also build restrooms near the music park. The total cost is estimated to be around $16,000 for that project. They proposed that the Park Board pay half and the city pay the other half. The council approved the request with the city’s half coming from the Donald Wilkens fund from the 401 fund.
The Park Board is considering the possibility of putting a dog park in the area of the old horse arena with the stipulation that all dogs using it be licensed and up-to-date on their shots. It was noted that in the winter months, the city puts snow there so the Park Board needs to be sure that that won’t be an issue before proceeding.
The Harmony Public Library recently purchased some games such as bean bag toss, bingo, etc. for patrons to check out. Library Director Stephanie Silvers Morse is working with the JEM to use the theatre for a weekly storytime.
The council approved Joe Liew as the new student member of the Arts Board.
The next Harmony City Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on November 10.