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Dassel council reviews 2008 water department budget

October 22, 2007

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The City of Dassel’s collection on water bills is so much better this year, water sales have already surpassed what was sold in 2006, by September 2007.

As a result, the water sales predicted in the proposed 2008 water department budget are $40,000 more than those in the 2007 budget, according to the city’s proposed enterprise fund budget for 2008, and reviewed by the city council last Monday.

In 2007, $238,000 was budgeted as revenues from water sales. The 2008 proposed budget lists $278,000. City Administrator Myles McGrath attributes the difference to the new radio-read water meters residents received in 2006, and the monthly, instead of quarterly, billings.

The city also is setting aside $45,000 in case there are extra or unforeseen expenses for a new water tower in 2008.

City Engineer Chuck Dewolf of Bolton & Menk said his firm is preparing specifications and the documentation for the environmental review for a new water tower at the same time, so everything will be ready for the Minnesota Department of Health well before the March 5, 2008 deadline. The city set a Dec. 15 deadline Oct. 1 for the plans and specifications from Bolton & Menk.

McGrath asked about adding new water mains to the south side of town, and if the engineers could model the system on computer. Dewolf said Bolton & Menk had the entire city’s water system on computer, so it could tell where to add new water mains on the south side of Dassel. The engineers also could use the program to equalize water pressure throughout the city. The proposed site for the new water tower at the intersection of Highways 12 and 15 is more than 100 feet above the properties on the east side of town. Without regulation, the water pressure on the east side of town might be so strong it will damage plumbing, Dewolf said.

Also, the new water hydrant installed at Marcia Street is only temporary, Dewolf said. When Cherry Circle area is developed between William Avenue and Highway 12, the hydrant will be moved, he said.

In addition to the water and sanitary sewer budgets, the council also reviewed another enterprise fund, the liquor store budget.

Liquor Store manager Marvin Vetsch said he predicts the store’s growth in sales will average 4 percent by the end of 2007.

Vetsch believes sales were soft because area lakes were down. Seasonal residents pulled their boats out earlier, and left Dassel, he said. However, he anticipates a good holiday season, though.

The money spent on remodeling the store was roughly $13,000 under budget, Vetsch said.

Vetsch also proposed promoting Mike Scanlon to an assistant manager position at $12 per hour. The council intended, however, to address all salaries and employee positions at a personnel committee meeting Monday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m., so made no decision about Scanlon’s promotion.

The budgets for the enterprise funds will be adopted in November, McGrath recommended in a description of the business items in the agenda.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• paid $40,785 to Mid Minnesota Hot Mix of Annandale for work completed on Fifth Street and Marcia Street through Oct. 11. The city is retaining about $24,000 or 5 percent of the total cost for the contractor to finish the last few remaining items, such as sodding and seeding.

• scheduled two assessment hearings for Monday, Nov. 19. The first hearing will be for the Fifth and Marcia Street project. The second hearing is a petitioned sewer project for two property owners, the Asplin amd Soderberg families, at West Pacific Avenue. Both assessment rolls will be based on 15-year bonds at an average 6 percent interest, unless council members change those at the hearings.

• decided to pay $1,680 for a tourism brochure in conjunction with Hutchinson, Glencoe and Cokato. The project is mostly funded by the state. Dassel Area Chamber of Commerce will pay a part of Dassel’s share, McGrath said.

• listened to a report from Dewolf that Meeker County is waiting for permission from MnDOT to put in flexible delineators in the safety measures at the railroad crossings. The flexible delineators will pop back up if wide farm equipment goes through the railroad crossing, he said.

Because the railroad refuses to spend more than 20 percent to repair the crossing, McGrath asked Dewolf to check whether the crossings could be repaired with less expensive timbers, rather than concrete.

• noted in a report from Mayor Ava Flachmeyer about a meeting with Cokato Mayor Bruce Johnson and City Administrator Don Levens that it’s not clear who maintains the walking path between the two cities. Is it Meeker and Wright counties, the townships or cities? she asked.

• directed Dewolf to meet with Xcel Energy and find out why Fifth Street seems darker than it was before the summer’s construction project. McGrath asked whether fewer light poles were erected than before. Also, the first block north of Highway 12 is not lit well, McGrath said.