Herald JournalHerald Journal, Feb. 21, 2005

HL council deadlocks over appointment, mayor gets to choose

By Lynda Jensen

Two stalemate votes over the appointment of a new council member highlighted the Howard Lake City Council meeting Tuesday.

At the last meeting, the council voted to appoint Vern Kleve, who later declined the position.

When this happened, the council turned to its remaining two candidates, Ray Fern and Al Munson, to fill the vacancy.

The council briefly quizzed both candidates about their beliefs on paying interest as a means of financing large projects, what they can bring to the council, and what they would do differently than the council has done in the past.

Fern served on the council in the ‘90s, helping to form the summer recreation program. He noted the intense value of volunteer work, and what this meant to recreation for the city in the past.

He was glad the city decided not to narrow its streets, against the recommendation of the city engineer, when that subject came up before. “I live on Haywood, and making them narrow would be a problem,” he said.

Engineers say that narrower streets are safer because cars drive slower when there are cars parked in close proximity, it was noted.

This can’t be true, especially during neighborhood events that bring a lot of parked cars to the street, Fern said.

Regarding interest, Fern said “Nobody likes to pay interest. What else are you going to do?”

Al Munson said he was a proponent of long-term planning, and that the city should be more prepared for development coming this way.

Munson agreed with Fern about the streets being less safe if they are narrow.

Regarding interest, Munson noted that the city should tax residents before a project is underway, in order to build up a fund dedicated to the project, and phasing development – an idea that has been suggested fairly often by Ostgulen in the past.

A motion by Council Member Shelly Reddemann to appoint Ray Fern failed with Reddemann and Council Member Tom Kutz voting in favor, and Ostgulen and Council Member Jan Gilmer voting against.

Ostgulen then made a motion to appoint Al Munson to the position. This failed with the reverse votes being cast.

Since the council was unable to reach a consensus on whom to appoint, Mayor Terry Ostgulen may appoint the candidate to assume his term that he vacated when he accepted the position of mayor.

This procedure is according to the League of Minnesota Cities, and also something that Mayor Gerry Smith exercised in the past.

Illegal to donate to After Prom

In other subjects, the council learned that it cannot contribute public funds to non-profit entities that don’t use the funds for government purposes.

Previous councils donated money to the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted After Prom committee in the past. This was actually illegal, noted Council Member Jan Gilmer.

“I think it’s a shame,” Reddemann exclaimed. “It wasn’t a problem before. I’m sorry this happened. Perhaps we can help some other way,” he said.

Ostgulen noted that the city is already donating use of storage area for the prizes collected by After Prom.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• heard about options for refinancing general obligation bonds held by the city. If the council opted to refinance, it could reduce its payments by $86,000, pending that the city could lock into a good rate.

• heard from Liquor Store Manager Ruth Voight, who reported sales of $42,250 for the month of January.

• approved the After Prom committee to host a one day bingo event at the community center.

This will be done without charge for use of the room, but Ostgulen and others asked about the city’s policy for this. Administrator Kelly Bahn said the city doesn’t charge for non-profit organizations.

• approved lawful gambling applications for the Howard Lake Sportsmen’s Club for Good Neighbor Days, and the Good Neighbor Days Committee for its button fundraiser.

• tabled a request for $1,200 to the Initiative Foundation. Past councils informally pledged this amount every year for five years toward the non-profit organization, which promotes commercial development.

Council members asked to have a list of local businesses who have benefited directly from the foundation.

• tabled a request from Wright County to partner over aerial photography bank available online.

Howard Lake’s share would be $1,300. The entire project is $20,000, with the county asking cities to help pay for the service. Previously the county paid for it.

“I’m not sure I see a $1,300 benefit here,” Ostgulen said, noting that maps exist for planning and zoning that could be used.

• designated Kutz to participate in the local boards of appeal and equalization training.

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