As required by the city charter, Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski opened a public hearing at 8:00 p.m. Monday evening to consider a recommendation from the city staff and the Utility Commission that council approve a two-stepped increase in the sewer rates to meet the financial needs for Wastewater Plant operations.
Even though there were no citizens present, Smiglewski and council members discussed the needs for the increase before a motion was made. The last increase in sewer rates was in 2009. Through previous council action, the depreciation amount for the sewer fund is set at $34,000. The rate increase is a step towards trying to fully fund that depreciation. which is an amount that is set aside for replacing equipment, making repairs and upgrades .
“We’ve been underfunding it [the sewer fund’s depreciation account] for years. We know we’re going to have to maintain the system and $34,000 isn’t going to go very far.” said Smiglewski.
City Finance Director Michael Betker indicated that the projected increases would amount to a modest increase or $45 to $60 dollars a year for most residential customers. A motion was made to increase rates through a two-step adjustment. The first step would become effective with utility bill payments due on November 15 of this year at which time the rates would increase by $.25 per 100 cu. ft. from the current rate of $3.10 to $3.35. The monthly availability charge would also increase by $1.00 from $4.00 to $5.00 at that time.
The second step adjustment will become effective with utility bill payments that are due on May 15, 2014. at which time the rates will increase by an additional $.25 from $3.35 to $3.60. This second step adjustment would also increase the monthly availability charge by an additional $.50 from $5.00 to $5.50. The motion to increase the rates was unanimously approved by the council.
Scoreboard at Highland Park
Brett Almich sent a letter to the city council offering to donate an electronic scoreboard for the Highland Park Field. In his letter Almich wrote, “I intend on raising the money for the scoreboard through the Youth Baseball Program.” He asked that the city’s donation to the project will be the installation of the scoreboard. The council approved a motion that recognized the donation of the electronic scoreboard and agreed to cover the cost of the installation.
Repairs at the KCC
The passed a resolution to move forward with the repair to the air handling equipment at the KCC. The equipment keeps the air flowing and recycling in the pool area. The new installation is required due to all the coercion in the air handler unit over the past 13 years. The new installation is required.
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KCC Director Nick Richter had already secured quotes from three companies: UHL of Maple Grove for $9,000, Division Mechanical Services of St. Louis Park for $8,510, and Corporate Mechanical of New Hope for $7,510. The council awarded the installation to Corporate Mechanical with the low quote of $7,510.
The council approved a resolution to execute an agreement with the Salvation Army to continue participation in the annual Heat Share Program. The Heat Share Program is a voluntary program whereby utility customers can elect to contribute funds that in turn are used to offset heating costs for qualifying individuals.
The council tabled a discussion on a resolution establishing a fee for motorized golf carts operating on city streets. The reason for waiting on passing a resolution was a consensus that more information is needed before a decision is made.
The council approved filling a vacancy in the Public Works Department. Current Public Works Director Paul Krogstad is retiring as of September 27. Following posting of the position and interviews, the director’s position was accepted by Jon Anderson. Anderson’s position as public works foreman then became vacant. Following posting of the position and interviews, John Aus accepted the foreman position formerly held by Anderson. This internal promotion has resulted in a vacancy in the public works department.
The council was informed that Saturday, September 28 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. has been set for the open house at the new city’s new Water Treatment Plant. A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at 11:15 a.m., a lunch will be served beginning at 11:30 a.m. and tours of the facility will be available throughout the open house hours.
Due to the Labor Day holiday, the next city council meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.