Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, February 22, 1999

HL utility rates to see big increase

By Andrea Vargo

Utility fees will have to rise 30 percent to cover the Highway 12 improvement project and the new water tower, the Howard Lake City Council was told Tuesday.

Financial advisor Bob Ehlers of Ehlers and Associates, Inc., emphasized this should be done soon in order to head off a negative cash flow situation.

The council decided to make half the adjustments July 1, 1999 and the other half Jan. 1, 2000.

These changes would also need to include an inflation protection index increase of approximately three percent on the monthly utility bills, the council agreed.

More information will be gathered on this index by Ehlers, City Administrator Christina Frankenfild, and City Engineer Brad DeWolf.

Now, sewer and water connection fees together are $1,600 for new construction. That will increase to $2,080 Jan. 1, 2000 with the new fee schedule.

Ehlers also suggested a $3 storm sewer charge and a $2 sidewalk utility fee, attatched to all monthly utility bills.

The sidewalk fee is contingent on new legislation to be passed by the state, said Frankenfield.

The coucil agreed that everyone uses the sidewalks along Highway 12, and everyone should pay for them.

The sidewalk fund would be a dedicated fund, and once the Highway 12 project is finished, it would fund repair and construction of any other sidewalks in the city, said Mayor Gerry Smith.

Council members agreed that a dedicated fund makes it harder for the city to use that money for other things.

Concerning the sewer and water funds, City Clerk Gene Gilbert told the council that the city has been playing catch-up for the past few years.

If everything stays the same, said Ehlers, by 2005 the city would have a $416,471 deficit.

Ambulance ordinance

Frankenfield and City Attorney Charles Paschke explained the necessity for the ambulance department to be brought into the city's financial statement as its own line item, and the council approved the measure.

Frankenfield said this is being done gradually all over the state by the state auditors.

It makes for a neater, more informative package for the auditors, Paschke said.

The bookkeeping will continue to be done by volunteers for the ambulance department. The books and checking account are in perfect order, said Paschke.

Bleacher safety

Safety concerns with the bleachers at Memorial Park brought insurance representative Duane Burkstrand to address the council.

Burkstrand told the council that unless it has a concern from the annual safety check by the insurance company, the city is covered for any accident that might occur on the bleachers.

"I would guess the safety audit will show that (bleacher replacement) as a top priority, if the bleachers are not the way they should be," said Burkstrand.

He suggested that the city be named as an additionally insured party on the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (HLWW) school insurance policy, since the bleachers are used at football and baseball games.

The older, aluminum bleachers will probably need to be replaced, said Councilman Shelly Reddemann.

"They won't even make good boat anchors," he said.

"I think we need some fast action," said Smith.

Burkstrand said, "I guess it comes down to a moral obligation; whether you think they should be replaced before someone tells you they should be."

The council agreed to ask the insurance company and the building inspector, Al Peterson, to check out the bleachers as soon as the new state code is approved.

There is some doubt as to whether the Lions donated the bleachers to the Wright County Fair Board or to the HLWW school district. It needs to be determined who actually owns them.

That party will be asked to remove the bleachers from the park if they don't pass inspection, said Smith.

Burkstrand said he had been told it was cheaper to replace the bleachers than to retrofit them.


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