Carl Harju says current emergency vehicle has become unreliable
By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN - The Cokato Ambulance Service received permission from the Cokato City Council Monday to shop around for a different emergency vehicle after reports that the current one is becoming unreliable.
Council member and ambulance crew member Carl Harju reported mechanical issues with the current vehicle, which has 110,000 miles on it.
The ambulance service is concerned it will be on an emergency call and the ambulance will either not start, or will stop in transport, Harju explained.
“It’s time for us to be looking real soon,” he said.
It was suggested that the council declare this an emergency so that bids would not have to be sought for a vehicle purchase and therefore, the process could move along fairly quickly.
Harju told the council the cost of a new ambulance would range anywhere between $110,000 and $150,000.
Council Member Butch Amundsen said that although he trusted the ambulance service “explicitly,” there was “no need for a Cadillac if a GMC will do.”
Harju said that the current ambulance cost $110,000, and it has lasted 10 years.
A special meeting may be called to approve a purchase in the coming weeks.
Levy and budget
Before the city council meeting, a public hearing took place for the 2010 municipal budget and final levy.
Business owner Elroy Dahlin addressed the council at that time and asked the members to reconsider the tax situation for Dahlin’s Home and Farm.
City Clerk Peggy Carlson told the council and Dahlin there would be nothing the city could do until next May in regards to a valuation of the Highway 12 property.
Later on in the council meeting, the levy and budget were approved by the council.
The 2009 levy, payable in 2010, was approved at the total cost of $1,026,981 or 5.28 percent increase over last year’s levy.
Council Member Wayne Murphy requested a salary freeze for city employees, which would decrease the levy by $8,163, but the motion died for lack of a second.
Both the budget and levy passed 4-1, with Murphy voting against and the following in favor: Harju, Amundsen, Gordy Erickson, and Mayor Bruce Johnson.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved a sanitary sewer discharge agreement with Forsman Farms. It was noted that final corrections would be forthcoming, though no financial changes would be made.
• heard a presentation from Marc Carlson of Unison, asking the council to consider a cell site lease conversion program at the north water tower adjacent to Swendra Boulevard/Wright County Road 3.
No vote was taken, but if the council were to agree to the program, Unison would offer the city a lump sum of $207,452 for the easement.
The council decided it would turn the agreement over to the city attorney, get designated plot plans, and set design standards for Unison reporting back to the council at its January meeting.
Amundsen wanted to ensure the water tower would not be excessively filled with equipment and would remain “aesthetically pleasing.”
Later, Amundsen noted that if council did enter in an agreement with Unison, the money would be designated for the water fund and this should be taken into consideration by the council.
• was informed the finalization of the Klarbacken private road agreement with Tuva Road Development would be put on hold once again, until the January meeting.
• was given an annual update of the city’s financial management plan by Shelly Eldridge, financial advisor.
Eldridge explained the budget projection for 2010 based on tax capacity values from the Wright County Auditor’s office. She will make the council’s suggested changes and bring it back at a future meeting.
• approved the off-sale liquor license Neisen Liquors and an on-sale liquor license for the Iron Horse Grill and Saloon.
• approved refuse licenses for Mumford Sanitation, Peterson Sanitation, and Waste Management.
• was informed the Minnesota Department of Revenue would be conducting a sales tax audit of the City of Cokato Jan. 13.
Carlson told the council many cities and counties have been audited in the past year to determine if they are correctly reporting sales tax.