Following the second reading of a proposed new rental and housing ordinance Monday evening, the Granite Falls City Council unanimously passed a resolution adopting the code, providing the city with legal powers to address blighted properties within the community.
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 cities in the state.
According to Holmstrom, the need of the ordinance was precipitated by a growing concern about poorly tended rental and residential properties within the community, along with a lack of effective enforcement mechanisms for the city to deal with the concerns.
During the meetings leading up to the ordinance’s passage a number of property owners were in attendance asking that the city work to apply costs to citations warranted by “problem” property owners and not those who were conducting property responsibly. That said, the property owners who voiced their concerns agreed that enforcement mechanism was needed.
Part and parcel with the passage of the ordinance was the need to establish accompanying fines and license fees. By resolution, the council established the need for property owners to obtain a rental license for $50 per location (not per unit) every five years and established administrative fines of $250 for code violations, as well as a $50 fee for property inspections provoked by complaints and substantiated by the city building inspector.
The new ordinance, including fine and license fees will go into effect January 1, 2014.
In other news:
•Council members approved a request by the American Legion to use a portion of the parking lot located adjacent to Sorlien Park for a Riverside Jam street dance spearheaded by Yellow Medicine County Veteran’s Service Officer, Michelle Gatz.
According to Gatz, the event will host the Los Angeles based Johnny Cash tribute band, The Walking Phoenixes; the return of the Miss Pelican (cross-dressing) contest; and a trio of “Los Angeles movie stars” who had previously traveled to Granite Falls to obtain footage for a film project related to veterans.
The Phoenixes, Gatz said, will be in town just as they were in 2012 for a veteran’s event being held in Marshall. As a result of that initial performance, local Mike Gill was flown out to Los Angeles to play with the band earlier this year.
The event in Granite Falls is scheduled for Saturday, August 17.
•Council members approved the hire of John Anderson to serve as the city’s new public works director in place of Paul Krogstad who is retiring later this year.
Anderson has 24 years of service with the city and will begin his duties on September 30 with annual salary of $50,439, or 85 percent of that which the former director earned.
Page 2 of 2 - •Council members approved a pair of resolutions accepting an engineering proposal for a secondary pumping station to be located on the south end of 7th Street behind the Wellness Center, as well as a motion to call for bids to install the pumping station.
Funded through flood mitigation dollars, the engineering services will come at an estimated cost of $39,300. Meanwhile, the estimated cost of constructing the station is $360,000, with bids scheduled to be opened at the August 5 meeting.
The pumping station is pertinent because it will allow the city to avoid having to run a pipe over Highway 212 during times of heavy flooding.
•The city will continue to contract with Mankato CPA firm Abdo, Eick & Meyers for auditing services after approving a resolution to contract with the firm from 2013-2015 at a cost $31,900, $32,500 and $33,100, respectively––a two percent, per year increase.