By Jennifer Gallus
HOWARD LAKE, MN - For the third time in the last couple of months, the Howard Lake City Council closed part of its council meeting Tuesday for discussion regarding the old grocery store building.
When the meeting was opened back up to the public, the council approved a motion to have City Attorney Chuck Paschke write up a purchase agreement for the city to purchase the building, which is currently owned by Mark Custer.
A special meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 23 at 7 p.m. for the public to comment on the matter, and to approve the completed purchase agreement.
During the meeting, the city will discuss how it intends to purchase the building including how much it is paying, what the terms will be, and what has already been completed, according to Mayor Richard Lammers.
“There are two retailers interested,” Lammers said. “and hopefully they will be at the meeting as well.”
Audit report given
During regular business, Christina Wordes from Conway, Deuth, and Schmiesing addressed the council regarding the city’s 2008 financial audit.
Some comments of interest included the fact that the city’s debt service remains constant at around $1 million, “which is a good indicator of good financial management,” Wordes said.
The water and sewer fund was reported as performing adequately.
“The liquor store continues to struggle, and sales should continue to be monitored,” Wordes said.
Segregation of duties was noted as a control deficiency, which is common in small towns with few staff, and is something that Wordes said she knew the city was aware of.
Mosquito spray complaint discussed
The city received a complaint from a resident who thought that spraying for mosquitoes with today’s economy in mind wasn’t prudent use of the city’s money.
Public Works Director Tom Goepfert said that the spray the city is using this year was purchased last year at a discount.
“We bought it on sale for $19.95/gallon last year. It’s now $29.99/gallon,” Goepfert said.
He also said the city spends $140/week on mosquito spraying, which doesn’t include the cost of gas while driving around in the truck.
Lammers said that mosquito spray cuts were discussed during budget talks, but that too many positive comments from residents had been received.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• heard from Patrick Olson of the Dutch Lake and Mallard Pass Lake Association who presented information about a new enzymatic treatment the association would like to try on the lake.
The treatment involves a natural bacteria that digests nutrients and converts them into carbon dioxide and water.
Olson will approach the council again in the near future with more information on the treatment in hopes that the city will fund part of the cost of the treatment.
• agreed to establish escrow account at Security State Bank in Howard Lake, which was requested by Sundblad Construction for retainage that the city currently holds for work done in 2006.
The project has yet to be completed, and Council Member Jan Gilmer said that the company should not be paid any of the interest earned on the retainage until the project is completed.
• decided to clean the ditch and catch basin in front of the Dier’s Electric building that has filled in with dirt and has been causing water build-up problems for some time.
Tom Morris Excavating will clean out the ditch and remove the dirt off-site for $3,500 and will restore the ditch for $500.
• approved the Howard Lake Legion liquor license.
• agreed to donate $150 toward the Howard Lake Good Samaritan Society for its current fundraiser to update bathing facilities at the nursing home.
• appointed Lisa Horn to the vacant planning commission seat.
• decided to allow Everett Boehlke of Howard Lake to farm the vacant outlots located in the city’s industrial park and privately owned Terning Trails.
The city will need to amend the zoning ordinance to allow this use to take place.
• agreed to sweep the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School parking lot, as requested by the school, at a cost to the school of $85/hour. The city estimates the sweeping will take between two and three hours.
• tabled consideration of repairing curb and a storm drain on Dutch Lake Trail until further information is presented.