Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Nov. 26, 2001

City, county still at odds over water tower

By Lynda Jensen

The Howard Lake Council approved a letter during its meeting Tuesday responding to Wright County Board about an ongoing dispute over the new Howard Lake water tower land and water usage.

The city wants to charge the county for water usage, while the county contends that a verbal agreement with a former council is binding, which allows it unlimited use of water at all times, including during the Wright County Fair. The county owns a quarter acre of land where the new tower is.

"Our council feels that it's not fair to continullay charge our citizens for water, when they pay the same as everyone else going to the fair," Mayor Gerry Smith said.

"We're willing to live up to everything else in the contract," Smith said.

In the most recent turn of events, the city drafted a letter detailing how much costs were waived in lieu of payment for the land parcel, which has paid for the parcel of land's worth four times over, Smith said.

The following is the letter printed in its entirety, upon request of the council:

Dear Wright County Board,

After reviewing the Memorandum of Understanding that was forwarded to the City of Howard Lake, the City Council is still questioning number 5 of the agreement stating all water service at the County Fairgrounds shall be provided at no cost to the county. This letter is being written to express the feelings of the Howard Lake Council regarding this issue with hopes to resolve this matter shortly.

Since the Wright County Fairgrounds were annexed in 1995, the City has waived a considerable amount of fees and charges that have been accrued by the Fairgrounds. The attached chart (not included on this web page) shows a list of services provided for the Wright County Fair, and the estimated amount spent by the City of Howard Lake to provide these services.

After seeing these numbers, the Council feels the City should not be obligated to continue providing water and sewer at no charge in exchange for the land the water tower sits on. A quarter acre lot at the fairgrounds has an estimated value of $9,743.09. The City has waived $37,303.53 over the past five years. It is obvious the City has more than paid for the land provided for the water tower and it seems unfair to continue paying for it.

The City Council will not approve this agreement because it binds the City to an agreement that may be burdensome to the citizens of Howard Lake. We feel it is unfair for local taxpayers to pay for the water and sewer used at the Wright County Fair and then pay the same entry fee to attend the fair as the other County and State fair goers do.

The Wright County Fair is a County function, yet Howard Lake is the only community in Wright County paying for the water and sewer used during the fair. This does not seem right to the City of Howard Lake and its Council.

Although the City would like to conclude this matter, we will not approve the proposed agreement because, as stated above, it is unfair to the taxpayers of Howard Lake to pay for the Water and Sewer fees used at the Wright County Fair. Please contact Doug Borglund, the City Administrator, at 320-543-3670 if you have any questions.

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