By ANDREA VARGO
"It looks like about 60 percent of the people think they live in a junky, dirty town," said City Councilman Shelly Reddemann.
Comments on the city survey form collected from residents and some businesses in November prompted Reddemann's remark.
"We need to listen to what people are telling us," he said, " and they are telling us they want things cleaned and painted downtown."
City Administrator Doug Borglund stated, "The city also needs to look at the numbers and address the problems and issues of the (age groups) projected by this survey."
People are asking for senior housing units in fairly large numbers, he said. These could be maintenance free or assisted living units, and as seniors moved into them, older homes would open up for first-time buyers.
Borglund told the council the survey would be published next week in the Herald with most of the comments written by residents.
Water and sewer fees will have to go up, said Borglund. They haven't increased like they were supposed to from 1990 to the present.
If they had, the city would not be in a position where costs exceed income, he said.
Now it is a bit of a shock to people when the rates have to be raised a fair amount at one time.
Reddemann said he wanted to make sure the seniors were not hurt, and felt the user fees should be raised.
Council members agreed and proceeded to raise the base rate this year for sewer and water from $3 to $4 per month each.
User rates for water will change from $1.50 to $2 per 1,000 gallons.
Sewer will change from $3.55 to $4 per 1,000 gallons.
Water and sewer connection fees for new construction will increase from $700 to $800 each. These fees, said Borglund, pay for repair and upgrade of the system.
All these increases still leave Howard Lake on the low end of the scale when compared to other cities of similar size, said Borglund.
Four other utility fees were increased from $16 each to $32 each. They were water meter connect and disconnect, and turn off or on of water service.
The street damage escrow deposit was raised from $200 to $1,000. City Clerk Gene Gilbert said the last two repairs cost the city $240 and $600.