By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN The Howard Lake Police Department recently received its new Chevrolet Tahoe, and Police Chief Tracy Vetruba parked it in front of city hall during Tuesday’s city council meeting for all to see.
The vehicle was purchased to replace the Ford Expedition totaled in an accident last year, and will be one of the primary squad cars used by the department.
The total cost of the new squad is approximately $34,000.
Net loss for liquor store in March
The Howard Lake Municipal Liquor Store showed a net loss of $2,058 in March, but has a year-to-date net profit of $7,255, according to manager Myra Hirsch.
Some of the reasons behind the net loss are a higher beer inventory to take advantage of specials, and more wine that was ordered for Easter, Hirsch noted.
Sales have steadily increased in the on-sale side of the liquor store, Hirsch added.
It should be noted that the payment of $109,570 from the insurance company for the DesMarais theft was received in February, but is not included in the totals.
Also not included in the totals is a $13,850 payment to the auditors in February.
Memorial Park improvement discussion
During further discussions regarding improvements at Memorial Park, the council directed city engineer Barry Glienke to find less-costly options that would not deplete three of the city’s funds.
“You can’t tell me there is only one way to fix the drainage issue you’re an engineer,” Council Member Pete Zimmerman said. “We’re talking about tapping out three funds to fix the park. That’s a big deal.”
Council Member Jan Gilmer suggested simply patching the sanitary sewer, and placing drain tile to help with the drainage problem.
“It won’t take much to put drain tile in it’s been running down the hill for a hundred years already,” Gilmer said.
City Administrator Kelly Hinnenkamp noted the main issue was getting the sanitary sewer line fixed before summer, saying the city could not have it backing up.
“A good way to look at this is a long-range plan,” Hinnenkamp said. “If the south parking lot is improved someday, save the money to improve that. We don’t need to work on the north parking lot if we fix up the south parking lot.”
Noting he was not really wild about just patching the sanitary sewer, Zimmerman said it would not be worth it because it would not last.
The plan presented by Glienke at the last council meeting included sanitary sewer repairs, costing $66,000.
To add curb, gutter, a catch basin, and storm sewer line to fix the drainage problem, would cost about an additional $30,000, or a total of approximately $98,000.
An additional $45,000 would be required if the council decides to go with the “Cadillac” plan Glienke presented, which includes fixing the flow of traffic through the parking lot by widening it and adding more parking space.
“I would really love to see the Cadillac version, though,” noted Council Member Tom Kutz.
Farming Terning Trails
Everett Boehlke has asked the city of Howard Lake for permission to farm Terning Trails, which the city acquired from the developer last year.
In previous years, Boehlke farmed the undeveloped land with permission from the previous owner, Hinnenkamp said.
However, Boehlke plants row crops on the land, disqualifying it for tax exemption.
The taxes for the property are $1,482, and Boehlke is proposing to rent the land from the city for that amount, plus he will mow privately-owned land to the east at no charge.
Allowing Boehlke to farm the land, and mow the privately owned land, will save the city money in code enforcement, because the property to the east does not get mowed by the owners according to code, Hinnenkamp noted.
Whether or not the council agrees to allow Boehlke to farm the land this year, the city will have to pay $1,482 in taxes.
Requests for tax exemption are a year behind, and July 1 is the deadline for requesting an exemption for next year, Hinnenkamp said.
The council approved allowing Boehlke to farm the undeveloped land in Terning Trails.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• tabled approving bids for crack sealing until a public works representative is available to explain the options.
• approved a declaration restricting the property financed by public facility authority drinking and clean water funds from being sold, mortgaged, encumbered, or otherwise disposed of without the approval of the commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget.