Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, May 31, 1999

Howard Lake to charge for agenda packets

By Andrea Vargo

Although no citizen has ever asked for a council meeting agenda packet, the Howard Lake City Council decided Tuesday to charge $4 if anyone wants one.

Packets still will be given to city personnel and the media for free, the council agreed.

Councilman Don Danford made it clear he didn't want citizens charged for the minutes, though. Copies of the official council minutes go to 11 citizens who have requested them and will still be mailed for free, said the council.

"What precipitated the policy change in the agenda packets?" asked Jean Schmidt, planning and zoning commissioner.

A request for department reports to be turned in earlier by Frankenfield was the reason the council gave.

This made the council think about how much information was in the public eye in advance of a meeting, and the council felt it was in its best interest to have more time to review information before it is made public.

The council members said they now realize that agenda packets are legally available to the public, as soon as it is distributed to the council.

Therefore, the council made a couple of decisions that affect the agenda.

One of those is to withhold the agenda from release on cable until Friday before a meeting, providing it has been approved and all changes have been made by the council.

The other is to approve the agenda or make changes in it at the start of a meeting, as many other cities do.

This is something the council had the option to do all the time, but the council people didn't realize this, they said.

After a lengthy discussion on how best to authorize city department heads to present their reports at meetings, it was decided to leave everything as is.

Reports that involve numbers need to be presented in written form, or they don't make sense, said City Clerk Gene Gilbert.

Other departments give oral reports, because that works best for them, said Frankenfield.

Solicitation in city

Stating the need for all to share in costs for the city, Mayor Gerry Smith told the public he felt there is a need to require permits for anyone from the outside who wants to do business in the city.

Smith feels that outside vendors take business away from established businesses in the city.

Only one permit has ever been issued for a vendor, and that was to a flower vendor for the Mother's Day weekend this year.

Jerry Untiedt, who sets up a vegetable stand in Howard Lake every year, said he doesn't agree with Smith's statement that outside vendors take away from, but don't contribute to, the city's economy.

"We are renting from someone who is paying taxes, and that person has the right to generate revenue any way he can from that property," said Untiedt.

A piece of property that can generate more income is more valuable, (because of location, etc.) and pays more taxes, he said.

When asked what other cities charge, Untiedt told the council the fees vary.

Minneapolis charges nothing, Buffalo charges $15 for a season, and a place like Shorewood charges $300 for a season.

Howard Lake charges $10 per day or $25 per week.

Said Kutz, "Are we being fair?"

Most cities put a time limit (60 to 90 days) on their permits, said Untiedt, even if there is no fee.

He noted, "We have been a seasonal vendor for years and would appreciate being grandfathered in under any legislation you might consider."

The council expressed appreciation to Untiedt for all his information, and asked Frankenfield to research information from other cities on their peddlers' ordinances

Smith stated he wanted mostly to protect the elderly who get ripped-off by siding salesmen, tool sales, and other things.

Kutz asked what a person should do if someone pulls up with a trunk full of stereo equipment for sale.

Send them to the city hall for a permit, said Smith.

"What if I see something I want?" asked Kutz.

Laughter followed the statement, but Smith still felt it should be reported.


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