By ANDREA VARGO
Bob Ehlers, Ehlers and Associates, Inc., explained the financial services his company could offer the City of Howard Lake at the City Council meeting Tuesday.
He said his objective is to work with the city staff and council as a combined financial management team.
City Administrator Doug Borglund said, "The city has never had this kind of plan before. I recommend the council consider this.
"We are just going along, and that's not a plan."
Mayor Mark Custer said, "We've been shooting from the hip a lot. We need to do a study, so we don't get into trouble."
The city has specific improvement projects that need financing in the near future, and there will be other capital improvements under consideration, Ehlers said.
He proposed an analysis of all outstanding debt, said he would work with the city to develop a plan for addressing debt management needs.
If appropriate, he said, recommendations to improve the city's debt management will be offered.
The council agreed to hire Ehlers for $3,500 to develop a plan for Howard Lake.
If the city does financing within 12 months of the report, 40 percent of the planning fee would be credited to the financing fee, said Ehlers.
"It sounds like something out of 1984," said Custer of the state requirements in the new tobacco ordinance.
Custer referred to the book by George Orwell that made popular the phrase, "Big Brother is watching."
The remark targeted the compliance checks the state mandates for businesses that sell tobacco products.
The city will have to use a minor over 15, but under 18, who will attempt to purchase tobacco under the direct supervision of a law enforcement officer or an employee of the licensing authority.
This minor must have prior written consent of a parent or guardian.
Borglund said the council can notify Wright County and put the sting operation on its shoulders.
Gerry Smith, Gerry's Super Valu, said he would rather deal with local law enforcement.
"They know how Tom Thumb and I run our operations on a day to day basis," he said.
The council members voted to pass the new, state-required tobacco ordinance, but all stated objections to the compliance requirement.
Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) representative Curt Eastlund went over the revised plans for the Hwy. 12 improvements through the City of Howard Lake.
The highway will have 12-foot traffic lanes, a 14-foot center turn lane through the middle of town, and six-foot shoulders to accommodate the oversize loads that come from Littfin Lumber.
He explained the one-year delay in work time for the downtown part of the project is actually a benefit for the city.
"This way the contractor can start as soon as the frost is out of the ground, instead of waiting until the first of July, as would have been the case if he started a year earlier.
With the short construction season and the amount of utility work to be accomplished in that time, there is a better chance for completion of the project in one summer with the delay.
Smith asked Eastlund about the signage outside of town for the business district.
Eastlund replied that this would come just before the start of the project and the businesses need to ask again at that time.
Councilman Shelly Reddemann had a question on the surface materiel. "Will it be concrete or asphalt," he asked?
Eastlund explained that Mn/DOT makes that decision on the basis of bids and it will be asphalt.
Council members agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Ridgeview Medical Center of Waconia regarding the reopening of the medical building in Howard Lake.
Ridgeview representatives will guide the City of Howard Lake in the renovations and improvements to the clinic building.
Custer said, "We have money for the project from the general fund for the building renovations."
The hope, said Robert Stevens of Ridgeview, is to be open Feb. 1. There is a one year probation period.
If the clinic is patronized well by the area residents, it will remain open.