Herald JournalHerald Journal, May 16, 2005

HL offers free water use to Wright Co. for fair

By John Holler
Wright County Correspondent

A longstanding dispute between county officials and the City of Howard Lake concerning the city’s water tower appears to be coming to an end according to action at the Wright County Board meeting Tuesday.

In 2001, the city erected a water tower at the Wright County fairgrounds and county board members were convinced they had reached a verbal agreement.

Three-and-a-half years later, the agreement still hasn’t been signed, but at the May 10 meeting of the Wright County Board, Assistant County Attorney Brian Asleson brought forward another proposal that could finally bring an end to the long dispute.

Armed with a three-inch thick folder of documents collected over the years,

Asleson praised the new administration in Howard Lake for looking to finally resolve the matter and presented the board with a proposal from the city outlining county responsibilities as part of the water agreement, which will give the county 185,000 gallons of free water at the fairgrounds before it would be charged a fee.

“I think where we came about the 185,000-gallon figure was that (the county) thought we would get free water, but Howard Lake officials thought we were wasting too much water,” Commissioner Pat Sawatzke said. “The city felt it shouldn’t provide free water if it’s being wasted, so that is where that figure was arrived at.”

But, like so many other discussions of the issue, it wasn’t as simple as adding the new language and giving approval. Sawatzke asked at what rate – commercial or residential – the county would be charged if it exceeded 185,000 gallons.

He also wanted to know if there was revenue being generated from placing communications equipment on the tower that the county could share in – an issue that had stalled talks in the past.

Asleson commended Howard Lake Mayor Terry Ostgulen and city staff for moving forward with the project and was authorized by the board to incorporate the new language into the agreement for discussion at a future board meeting.

“I think this proposal is getting as close to acceptability as any we’ve seen,” Sawatzke said.

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