Herald JournalHerald Journal, Jan. 12, 2004

Danford resigns from HL council, vacancy may be filled quickly

By Lynda Jensen

Health concerns prodded Council Member Don Danford to tender his resignation at the Howard Lake Council meeting Tuesday.

Danford, who was not present at the meeting, conveyed his resignation through Mayor Gerry Smith.

Danford's term is up in the fall, which means the council will appoint someone as a replacement for the rest of his term.

Danford served a total of five years on the council; most of a four-year term, and the remainder of Al LePage's term about four years ago.

The council plans to fill the position quickly, saying that the personnel committee may make a recommendation as soon as Tuesday, Jan. 20. The committee is comprised of Council Member Shelly Reddemann, Smith and Administrator Kelly Bahn.

The deadline for applications is Friday, Jan. 16.

Council deadlocks twice over new proposed fee

With the absence of Danford, the four-member council proceeded to deadlock twice over adding a proposed $500 park fee per building permit for new construction. The money was intended for upkeep of city parks.

Building fees in general for Howard Lake are low compared to other towns such as Waverly and Montrose, which both charge a park fee in the range of $1,000 to $1,200, Bahn pointed out.

Council members Terry Ostgulen and Tom Kutz objected to the idea of charging new residents, saying that the extra fee was unnecessary.

"Why so much?" Ostgulen asked.

Ostgulen said that taxes being collected in general pay for parks, since the parks are used by all.

Smith disagreed, saying that parks built in new developments are generally used by people living in the development. He also noted that money set aside for parks seems to always be cut back in the budget, as it was for 2004.

Council Member Shelly Reddemann noted that upkeep of parks is expensive. "We're short park equipment," he said. He also noted that the part-time person hired may end up full time to service parks properly.

"It's too much," Kutz said. He expressed concern for young families moving in who would have to pay more for building a house, since the developer passes the cost along to the buyer.

It was noted that young people most often request parks.

A second motion to add $300 instead of $500, also ended up with a split vote, Smith and Reddemann in favor, and Kutz and Ostgulen against.

Ostgulen also objected to an increase for new water meters from $45 to $95, since the cost for existing homes that need replacement water meters was still $45.

"And the fairness in that is what?" he asked Bahn, pointing out that new home owners would be hit nearly twice as much more. "A meter's a meter."

Bahn noted that Public Works Director Tom Goepfert suggested the change, but wasn't on hand to explain the reason.

The 2004 fee schedule was unanimously adopted without the new park fee, and with new water meters at $45.

The fee schedule also did not include fees for compost use, since Reddemann expressed the desire to wait a year before decisions were made about the compost situation.

Victor annexation stalls

The council also turned down a request by Victor Township for $300 per acre compensation for taxes, rather than the $200 that was offered and already accepted by Middleville in its annexation agreement.

The city and township are down to a final draft for orderly annexation, with a meeting taking place the week before the council meeting with attorney Mike Couri of St. Michael, who represents Victor.

It was decided early on to keep both township agreements the same and if there were any changes for one, it would take place in both township agreements, Bahn noted.

Council members discussed the amount difference, but the consensus appeared to be that the difference was unfair to Middleville.

"$200 is respectable," Smith said.

Ostgulen wondered if there was a reason for the difference.

Woodland Township received $100 per acre for its land, it was noted.

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