Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, July 26, 1999

Howard Lake water and sewer rates get scheduled increase

By Andrea Vargo

Financial consultant Bob Ehlers told the Howard Lake City Council Tuesday, that it needs to implement rate increases for utilities immediately.

Ehlers of Ehlers and Associates said that a utility fee increase of approximately 30 percent will be necessary by the time the Highway 12 improvements are complete.

This means sewer and water connection fees will be increased from $1,600 to $1,840 for the rest of 1999, and that fee will increase another $240 in the year 2000, he said.

Water rates will increase to $5.85 for the fixed service fee and $2.30 for each 1,000 gallons of water used.

Sewer rates will have a fixed service charge of $5.85 each month and a volume charge of $4.60.

The wastewater volume charge will be based directly on water usage each month for all users except residential.

Residential customers shall be billed using off season designation.

Ehlers said a storm sewer utility charge of $3 each month should be instituted as soon as possible.

He told the council that since the law did not pass this year for a sidewalk utility fee, the council should budget $15,500 annually for sidewalk funding on the city's property taxes.

The council voted to make the increases necessary on the next utility bills.

Ehlers reminded the council it needs to reviewt its utility fees on a yearly basis and increase those fees, taking into account inflation and cost of borrowing to determine that increase.

City hall task force

The city hall task force is kicking around ideas for use of the historic city hall building, but their main concern is restoring the exterior of the building, said task force member Don Danford.

If the city offices and the police department were to possibly move upstairs, and the liquor store could expand downstairs, then that might solve some of the space problems, said Danford.

It would cost a lot of money to move the liquor store, Danford told the council.

The liquor store brings in a whole lot of revenue for the city, and that's a fact, he said.

The Lions would still have half of the upstairs, and an elevator would have to be put in, he noted.

How the Highway 12 improvement project will affect the liquor store and its sales is still an unknown. The task force welcomes ideas from the public.

Noise complaints

Judy and Curt Forst, who live just outside the city limits, asked the council if it could do something about the excessive noise emanating from the bands at the Sand Bar and Grill on the weekends.

Outdoor concerts are the worst, said Judy. And someone must have opened the doors on the building last weekend, and even the indoors band was loud.

She wanted to know what the decibel level is for noise limits in the city. She was told there are none,

"What time are they allowed to play music for their outdoor concerts?" she asked.

The Forsts had company Memorial Day weekend, and the music went on until one in the morning, she said.

Mayor Gerry Smith said, "We've had a number of complaints."

Smith thanked them for their remarks and said the council will address the problem.

Liquor store report

Liquor store manager Ruth Voight told the council the profit for June was $31,723.27.

She also explained the Lions would like to place a pull-tab machine in the liquor store for use when the pull-tab booth is not open.

"I've been through this before, and there would be more rent needed from the Lions (to cover the costs of bar employees who would deal with the payment of winners)," she said.

She told the council the liquor store won't put money up front for the machine, or cover any losses.

With those things in mind, she wasn't sure the Lions will want the machine.

Danford said he was for anything the Lions could do to make money, since they do a lot of good for the city, but he did not think it would be a big money-maker for them.

Councilman John Swanson said that maybe the liquor store could give it a three-month trial, and then evaluate it.

Voight will present the idea to the Lions.

She also told the council the credit card machine is working well and customers like it.

Voight hired a new full-time bartender to fill a position that has been vacant for some time. The council approved.

Wage increase

Maintenance worker Todd Anderson will get a three percent pay increase due to his increased education and certification in wastewater management.

Smith said the council feels it is fair to tell employees what they need for education, so the personnel committee needs to bring policy recommendations to the council.

Anderson's job description needs to be changed, because of the extra certification and ongoing education he is pursuing.

Said Danford, "We are obtaining pay records from other towns to make sure we are in line with what we do (for pay increases)."

Other business

  • Easements for the Minnesota Department of Transportation in its work to improve Highway 12 were approved by the council.
  • On the recommendation of City Administrator Christina Frankenfield, the council did not grant the request of the Initiative Foundation for another $721 contribution. It is not a budgeted item, she said.
  • Smith said the appearance of the mobile home park has improved, thanks to all the hard work done by site manager Gladys Jones.
  • A 10-foot variance was approved for Cindy Jagodzinski for construction of a garage.
  • Work is in progress to correct the odor problem at Sonstegard Foods on County Rd. 6 after complaints to the council at the last meeting.


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