Mabel’s City Council met on December 8. The agenda included the city’s annual Truth in Taxation public hearing, but no citizens attended. The council discussed the proposed final levy, collectible in 2022. The proposed total includes $403,973 for the General Fund, $6,600 for the Ambulance Reserve, and $15,000 for Debt Service. This represents a 2.74% increase from the previous year. The council voted to approve the final levy and budget for the upcoming year, as proposed.
The council returned to a matter discussed at the November meeting. The Historical Society has asked if Mabel would allow an old engine to be displayed in Steam Engine Park. Mayor Westby stated that after consideration, he feels the city should not allow the item to be displayed on city property. Council members shared concerns that the item does not have any known significance to citizens of Mabel, and that it would likely be climbed on by children at the park. The council voted to deny the request from the Historical Society.
Cristal Adkins addressed the council regarding the water billing for her property at the Mabel House Hotel. She said the meter showed exceptionally high usage of water at the hotel in October. She explained that she then had a plumber come to perform an inspection, but no indication of a water leak was discovered.
Adkins stated, “So then I spoke with Jeff (Rein) and asked him to come out and verify in person that what the remote meter reading said matched what the actual meter was, and he did. He confirmed that it was correct.” Adkins said the billing for October is $1,001, for 47,000 gallons of water. She said the hotel’s monthly usage generally fluctuates between 8,000 to 12,000 gallons, and she doesn’t know of any reason that October’s usage would have spiked. She added that, according to the water meter, the property used 17,261 gallons of water from November 1-5, and she noted that during those five days, “There was not a soul in the building, we had zero customers.” Adkins added that from November 6-15, the water meter indicates 2,834 gallons were used, at a time when the hotel was nearly full due to deer hunters staying in the hotel. She said she has no explanation for why usage had suddenly risen so dramatically, but that usage appears to be back down to levels consistent with the hotel’s patterns over the past several years. She asked if the city could forgive a portion of the billing, since no evidence of a leak was found.
Mayor Westby and council members shared their concerns about setting a precedent, if the city forgives a portion of the bill. Mayor Westby suggested the council could review the hotel’s past usage and billings, and reach a decision later. No formal action was taken at this time.
Karen Larson explained a situation regarding the property located at 104 Fillmore Street. She said the property is currently owned by the state, and maintained by the county. She said the city has the opportunity to approve the property being put up for auction. The other option would be for the city to take over ownership, which would then entail significant costs for demolition and cleanup. Council members voiced agreement that the city does not want to purchase the property. The resolution to approve the auctioning of the property was approved.
Kirsten Wyffels voiced a “thank you” to the business association and all who helped with Santa Day. She also said businesses had been very generous during the city’s “trick or treating.” Mayor Westby said the leftover “goody bags” from Santa Day were donated to the care center. He also pointed out that, “They’re still trying to recruit new members to the Mabel Business Association. You do not have to own a business. We just want you to participate.”
Two new members of the library board, Chris Hansen and Bonnie Anderson, were approved to replace departing members.
The next meeting of the Mabel Council will be January 12 at 6 p.m. The public is welcome.