Herald JournalHerald Journal, Oct. 27, 2003

HL looks into advertising on police patrol cars

By Lynda Jensen

Advertising may be affixed to new patrol cars for the Howard Lake Police Department if all goes according to plan, per discussion at the Howard Lake City Council meeting Tuesday.

The arrangement is being offered through a Delaware corporation called Government Acquisitions Inc., where vehicles may be purchased for $1, used for three years, and then sold back to the company for $1.

The business, which does not represent a government entity, responded to the president's call for Homeland Security measures, according to its web site, governmentacquisitions.com.

The police department would be responsible for selling the advertising spots, commented officer Tim Sonnek.

The department would like to get two vehicles, and then sell two existing ones, Sonnek said.

The council agreed to move forward with the idea, depending on what future information may be researched about the idea.

Pole building style is OK'd for garage

A garage was approved for Atlas Anchoring, a business located south of the Pit Stop along Highway 12, in the former Clinic Cab building.

The owner of Atlas Anchoring is Brad Stannard.

New zoning regulations do not allow pole style structures anywhere in the city except for the industrial park area.

However, the council may approve them on a case-by-case basis if there is a principal building to match the structure, and it looks good, City Administrator Kelly Bahn said.

Council Member Shelly Reddemann noted that the building has a concrete foundation and uses poles for supports. "It's not a pole barn," he said.

Planning and zoning recommended approval, but the vote was 3-1, with Mayor Gerry Smith voted against the measure. Smith is filling a vacancy on the commission.

During the council meeting, Smith once again voted against the measure, which passed 3-1; with council members Tom Kutz, Terry Ostgulen and Reddemann voting in favor. Don Danford was absent.

Talking about cash for long-term projects

The council also discussed how to manage large-scale utility projects financially over a good part of the next decade, related to the city's capital improvement plan.

Ostgulen pressed the council to use its reserves toward the future expense, avoiding the cost of interest on borrowed money. He noted that taking in more fees to build up money ahead of time would be a good way to manage the expense.

However, the financial consultant, Monte Eastvold, cautioned the council on taking this route, since the city would give a great deal to some residents during the first two years of improvements, and then ­ if there is not enough money left in the utility coffers to finance the remaining work ­ end up hitting residents harder whose work is yet to be done.

If the city can ensure that incoming revenue will keep the account viable, this would be a good idea, Eastvold said.

Council members were anxious about draining reserves, in case of an emergency. It was noted that Cokato had to suddenly raise its rates without a reserve in this type of scenario.

Reddemann asked City Engineer Brad DeWolf if the state might change regulations for water quality, such as how much arsenic is found in well water, and the handling of sludge. DeWolf confirmed this, but noted it is addressed in the capital improvement plan.

Mayor Gerry Smith indicated that the council should give the average amount toward utilities that the city has in the past several years. He noted bond rates were very low and the value of the dollar is probably more now, than down the road.

"It will affect everyone in town who pays water bills," Bahn noted.

A workshop will be set sometime in November to discuss the issue.

Odds and ends

The city approved the purchase of recycling bins, which cost $7.42 each, with a minimum order of about 200. There is a grant program offered by the county that will pay for half the expense.

· approved a variance to Security State Bank for the three-foot buffer required for parking lots with more than five spaces.

Daylilies were planted in lieu of the buffer, which will grow approximately three feet high, according to Merle Friesen of Cattail Corner.

The bank will be required to keep the area weed free as part of the approval, which is common for this kind of zoning.

This arrangement will be re-evaluated after two years.

· approved a side yard setback from 15 feet to 11.3 feet for ADC Liquidating Plan in a general industrial district, located at 305 13th Avenue.

The variance will help solve a property dispute between two land owners.

Two properties contained overlapping legal descriptions, and it was decided to split the contested land down the middle, causing a building to be more in violation of zoning, Bahn said.

· tabled a new meter fee. The council discussed using new radio controlled meters, which would reduce the amount of time for the utility clerk to input meter readings, be more efficient, and also automatically collect readings for people who don't call them in regularly. Waverly is in the process of switching over to the new system for these reasons.

However, the public works department would be spending more time reading meters, Ostgulen said.

It was noted that there will be more meters to read with a growing population.

The cost for each meter would be about $180. It was debated about whom to pass the cost along to, new homes only or both old and existing, if the system is to be used at all.

Waverly is charging new residents $230 for a new meter, and using the overage to build up an account to eventually cover the cost of existing homes.

"That sounds nice for existing homes, but it's not very fair," Ostgulen said.

· approved the cost of inspections for well number four, at an amount of $2,100. The council discussed preventative maintenance, trying to decide how much money to spend on it, since it is an older well.

The last time it was serviced was 1997, with minor maintenance done since, Goepfert said.

· set regular budget workshops for April, July, and October.

· approved a contract for Safety First for $2,000, which satisfies state safety requirements. For the time being, there is no other alternative, Bahn said.

· approved a revised liquor ordinance, making it possible for the city to grant separate wine and strong beer licenses.

· approved a refund of the tax increment financing application fee of $5,600 to Security State Bank. This identical arrangement was also done for Joe's Sport Shop.

· adopted a narcotics detection dog policy.

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