On Monday evening the Granite Falls City Council held the first reading of a rental and housing ordinance that if adopted will provide the city new legal powers to address blighted properties within the community.
Once again, there were a few property owners in attendance to listen and offer input as council members discussed final language for inclusion in the document.
A growing concern about poorly tended rental and residential properties amongst community members, along with a lack of effective enforcement mechanisms for the city, was said to have precipitated ordinance’s need.
Over the past few months City Attorney Greg Holmstrom has compiled the document based on language contained in sample ordinances from the League of Minnesota Cities as well as those in-use by other Minnesota cities.
A focus of the exchange directed at council members by rental property owners in attendance, was the recommendation that the city strive to apply costs to citations so that it is “problem” property owners who are the ones to bear the expense.
“We do need some teeth,” said local landlord Ron Thull. “But I’d like to see the city keep license fees low and fines high. If I’m someone who’s fined, then so be it. I’d deserve it then.”
Before the council can consider adoption of the new ordinance into the city charter a second reading will be held. That, however, is at least few weeks away as city representatives will first look to establish associated licensing and citation fees by separate resolution.
In other news:
•Council members approved the sale of $1.245 million in General Obligation Improvement Bonds through the city’s bond consultant, Ehlers and Associates, in association with utility and street improvement projects.
BOSC, Inc. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin was the bond low bidder at an interest rate of 2.8669 percent. The 15-year bond is scheduled to be paid off in 2028, generating $400,106 in interest expense over its lifespan.
•Council members passed a Change Order resolution related to the water meter replacement project performed by Ferguson Waterworks. In November of 2011, the council accepted a bid to replace all city water meters with remote reading units. Based on the lower price it cost to complete the project, the change of order reduces the final payment in the contract from approximately $586,000 to $507,000.
•The 2013 utility improvement project will result in newly repaved tennis courts. A component of the utility project will cross over a section of the tennis courts. Rather than repave a 20’ patch of surface for $3,375, the school has come to an agreement that will allow for the entire resurfacing at a cost of $18,000.
Typically resurfacing costs are split between the city and the school. In this instance council members approved a proposition that will see the city and school split the cost, minus the $3,375 associated with the utility work, which will be the city’s responsibility.
Page 2 of 2 - •Council members waived calling for quotes and approved a $4,200 bid to West Central Roofing, of Willmar, to repair the roof of the Dallas II portion of the municipal liquor store building. West Central Roofing was the original contractor of the building, hence the bypass of quotes.
•Council members accepted a Sewer Maintenance Policy that would provide documentation of regular inspections and maintenance performed on the sanitary sewer lines and lift stations. The policy was accepted at the recommendation of the city’s property/casualty/liability insurance provider, the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, in order to reduce the city’s deduction for sewer backups wherein the city is found to be negligent.