By Jennifer Kotila
COKATO, MN The payment of $2,400 to the owner of a van that was damaged beyond repair during snow plowing was approved at Tuesday’s Cokato City Council meeting.
The vehicle, which was parked in a driveway at 320 Klarsyn Street, was hit by a manhole cover that the snowplow popped off and sent flying through the air.
A fairly unusual incident, neither the new public works director Jeff DeGrote, or the former public works director Ken Bakke have heard of it happening before.
Approval of ordinance amendments
The council approved the amendments for two ordinances; the first for junk, abandoned vehicles, and parking; and the second for vacant buildings.
Some of the changes to the junk, abandoned vehicles, and parking ordinance include no parking on a public street or highway for longer than 72 hours, and restrictions on the parking of recreational vehicles and semi-tractor trailers.
For the vacant buildings ordinance, changes include registering the vacant property with the city within 30 days of it becoming vacant.
It also requires the owner or responsible party of the property to develop a plan to address utilities, nuisances, interior and exterior maintenance, and a timetable to return the building to occupancy.
A summary of the ordinance changes will be published, and full copies of both ordinances are available for the public at Cokato City Hall.
Liquor store fees discussed
Stacey Determan, owner of the Iron Horse Grill and Bar, once again addressed the council regarding liquor license fees.
Determan gave the council more information she had discovered in her research of state statute regarding the fees set by cities.
Determan specifically noted that the license fee is intended to cover the costs of issuing the license, and inspecting the licensee, other directly related costs of enforcement, not for the city to make a profit.
Currently the on-sale intoxicating liquor license fee is $3,000. Determan asked the council to review the fee and set it at what it actually costs the city to issue the license.
Council member Butch Amundsen told Determan the council will take the information under advisement.
A public hearing on all fees set by the city of Cokato will take place Jan. 10, 2011.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved the Cokato municipal budget for 2011.
• tabled a review of requests for proposals for grant writing services for the library/museum expansion.
This issue was first tabled at the July 2010 meeting until December in order to see what happened with the public safety building referendum.
Because of the failure of the public safety building referendum, Amundsen said he could not see spending money on the library expansion at this time.
Council member Wayne Murphy asked for a timeline to be set on the tabled issue, and it was agreed the issue would be brought back before the council in six months.
In the meantime, if the Friends of the Cokato Library raise enough funds to go forward with requests for proposals, the city will move ahead with the issue.
• approved a resolution for the relocation of an accessory structure being moved in by a family that just moved to the area from Winsted.
The family needed council approval because the structure is larger than current ordinance allows.
• approved a joint powers agreement between Cokato, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), and the Wright County Sheriff’s Office for electronically filing criminal complaints and prosecuting misdemeanors.
The BCA is upgrading to electronically filing all criminal complaints and prosecuting misdemeanors, so each entity that works with the BCA must sign the joint powers agreement.
• approved a joint powers agreement with the cities involved in the “Best of 12” marketing committee.
At this time, the committee has decided to formalize its relationship regarding certain economic and community development activities in the future, according to the agreement.
The mutual agreement requires each city to make a contribution of $1,000 the first year.
For the following years, each city will be expected to contribute an amount that is pro-rated for its population.
For example, Cokato’s contribution for next year would be $1,092, while Howard Lake would be expected to contribute $800.
Any city that failed to contribute would lose its voting powers on the committee.
• approved agreement with the Wright County Assessor’s Office, with no increase in rates.
• asked for more clarification of an invoice from Bonestroo Engineering Services for consultation regarding the wastewater treatment facility and Forsman Farms.
The invoice for these consultations will not be paid until the invoice is itemized for the council.
• directed public works to place a “Dead End” sign at the corner of Johnson Avenue SW and Third Street at the request of a resident.
• approved moving forward with the application process for funding provided by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to extend pedestrian walkways in the city of Cokato.
• approved the purchase of a snow pusher from RDO Equipment, which had the low bid of $3,520.
Cokato Public Works Director Jeff DeGrote noted that a snow pusher saves a lot of time, and Peterson Park can hold most of the snow from downtown so it does not have to be hauled out, saving the city money.
Murphy commended DeGrote and the city staff for doing a good job removing all the snow that has fallen to date.