Handful of residents turnout to express displeasure with policy

Despite several local homeowners objections to city assessment policies, the Granite Falls City Council unanimously approved final assessments for both 2013 Utility and Street Improvement Projects.
Held Monday during the council’s regularly scheduled meeting, the votes followed public hearings for each of the maintenance initiatives, the cost of which is covered by both homeowner and the city at a ratio dictated by the city charter.
The $523,683.50 Utility Improvement Project –– involving the 14th Avenue water main loop; the Industrial Park storm sewer outlet; alley storm sewer work between 15th Street and 16th Street; and the school track area storm sewer –– was overseen by Quam Construction of Willmar and included project assessments of $118,524 that were divvied up between 65 homeowners.
In this instance, one qualm was raised by a nearby homeowner who questioned whether it should be his responsibility to pay for utility related flood issues on the property of one resident.
I do have a problem if you don’t have a drainage problem and it’s only one person in the area,” said  Art Berends.
The $448,920.50 Street Improvement Projects –– including work to Bergeson Drive, 8th Street between 7th Avenue and 10th Avenue and the alley between 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue from 2nd Street to 3rd Street east of the hospital –– was supervised by Willmar construction company, Duininck, Inc. This venture involved total assessments of $144,776 amongst not quite 60 homeowners.
Here, two residential property owners voiced concerns over having to pay relatively higher assessments on the paved alleyway between 10th and 11th Ave. near the hospital. It was said by those in attendance that the hospital accounts for “90 percent” of the roads’ traffic, including heavy trucks.
“We wouldn’t have a problem chipping in,” said Lou Ann Paslawski. “It’s just we don’t use it.”
While city representatives were sympathetic to the concerns they also said there was little they could  do.
“I agree with everything you’re saying, but that’s the way the policy reads,” City Engineer Dave Berryman told one constituent.  
City Manager Bill Lavin noted that the assessments were based on standard city policy and that any issues with the nature of the projects, cost or otherwise, needed to be brought forth during public hearings held prior Utility and Street Improvement project approval, which in this case took place several months ago.
Lavin also noted that assessments are based on adjoining property so that property owners, such as the hospital, do pay a fair share based on the applied formula. In addition, those who are assessed may have the costs applied to their property taxes and spread out over a period of 15 years for the utility project and eight years for the street improvements.

In other news:
•Following a second reading, the council adopted an ordinance that effectively annexed property located adjacent to Granite Ridge Place set aside for the new nursing home into city limits.
•Council members accepted a $500 donation by the Granite Falls Area Community Foundation personal endowment fund of Granite Run Golf Course owners, Dave and Liz Reimer.
•After receiving a letter from Police Chief Russ Blue expressing strong opposition to allowing golf carts on city thoroughfares, council members backed away from previous discussions that suggested that some city representatives were interested in exploring the possibility.
•At the recommendation of the Granite Falls Fire Department, council members approved the purchase of a Pierce 1250 GPM pumper truck for $459,499 through the Houston-Galveston Area Council purchasing cooperative. The fire suppression vehicle will replace the department’s over 35-year-old pumper truck which was unable to pass inspections earlier this year due to expensive equipment faultering.
On hand to encourage the council to go a different direction was local resident and Fire Safety USA Sales Rep., Mike Ohliger. Ohliger, who is a retired 26-year member of the Granite Falls Fire Department, told members of the council that he had priced trucks for the department before they informed him they were going with another manufacturer. Based on his perceived needs of the department, Ohliger expressed that he thought the local fire crew was overspending and that the council should allow him the opportunity to provide a price for consideration.
Fire Chief Dave Beasley explained that the price was more equitable when viewed with apples to apples options, and also suggested that there was some favorable characteristics involving reliability and service that comes part and parcel with the Pierce line.
Meanwhile, the council noted that the city followed the state guidelines in the purchasing process and that it was inclined to get behind the department’s decision.
•A  resolution was approved allowing the city to provide an interfund loan that will serve as gap financing for the purchase of the Pierce truck prior to bond sales in December. A follow up resolution was also approved allowing the city to reimburse itself in the gap financing through bond sales.
•The council approved a lease agreement with Cari Corp, Inc. that extended the party’s lease on the city-owned Dallas II building for 10 years at a monthly expense of $1,339.38