By Starrla Cray
MONTROSE, MN Sometimes, no change can be a good thing.
At the Dec. 13 Montrose City Council meeting, the council unanimously voted to adopt a levy of $847,580 for 2011, a zero percent increase from 2010.
Before making the final decision, the council listened to comments from residents Bob Chantland, Scott Czanstkowski, Evan Siljander, and Mark Krotzer.
The breakdown of the levy includes $320,228 for the general fund, $65,554 for the park fund, $20,738 for the community center, $10,000 for capital improvement, $31,000 for the economic development authority, and $400,000 for debt service.
Utility rate increase
Although the levy is staying the same, the council approved increasing utility rates, effective Jan. 1.
Water system rates went from $4.25 to $4.30 per 1,000 gallons, and the monthly base rate increased from $4.50 to $4.55.
Sewer rates rose from $3.50 to $4 per 1,000 gallons, and the base rate increased $1 from $2.25 to $3.25.
In addition, wastewater treatment plant rates went up by 15 cents in both the monthly base rate and usage per 1,000 gallons.
New plant rates are $5.65 for the base, and $4.65 for every 1,000 gallons used.
The increase also impacts Waverly residents, because Waverly uses the wastewater facility.
In December, Montrose City Administrator Barb Swanson sent an email to the Waverly City Council stating that the rate increase is needed for the annual debt payment.
“The annual payment is just under $400,000,” Swanson stated in the e-mail. “The debt payment will be paid from user rates, because we no longer have adequate new home starts to cover the annual debt payment.”
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• scheduled a special session to discuss public works items such as streets, utilities, and general operations after the Monday, Jan. 10 regular city council meeting.
• appointed Mike Marketon as volunteer fire chief for 2011. His primary duties include planning, organizing, directing, and implementing fire prevention, as well as suppression and emergency medical services to prevent or minimize loss of life and property by fire and emergency medical conditions.
• approved the resignation of Allan Torgelson and Joel Ernst as fire department volunteers.
• recognized Ryan Andreae for his time served as a city council member.
• discussed an issue between John Solomonson of Woodside Communities and property owners Joe and Melissa Higgins, and decided to leave the matter to the private parties.
• adopted a zoning ordinance amendment addressing fencing requirements. The new language requires that anyone placing a fence 24 inches or less from the property line must have written permission from the neighboring property.
• decided to purchase an S650 Bobcat from Farm-Rite Equipment of Dassel for $46,444.
• adopted a resolution allowing unpaid utility charges to be assessed to the 2011 taxes.
• decided to charge a 5 percent fee on payments made by credit card to the City of Montrose.
• did not approve a leadership/planning/team-building retreat for city council members Saturday, Jan. 29, but instead, requested further details. According to a proposal from Don Salverda of Donald Salverda & Associates consulting firm, the one-day retreat includes a $500 cost for planning and preparation, $1,500 cost for the on-site retreat, and a $500 cost for post-retreat report writing.
• did not approve continuation of a billboard marketing program offered through Clear Channel Communications, a global media and entertainment company.
• adopted a resolution approving a State of Minnesota joint powers agreement with the City of Montrose, with Mayor Andy Kauffman and council members Sharon Knodel and Jeff Petersen in favor, and Andreae and Scott Jensen opposed.
Wright County is participating in an eCharging initiative, in which criminal complaints can be filed with the court system electronically. Through the Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), the state is asking cities to approve this joint powers agreement.
• considered a possible application to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for an economic development grant. Swanson was directed to gather more information relating to cost, number of applicants, and deadlines.
Note: This article was written using the draft minutes from the Dec. 13 Montrose City Council meeting.