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Council takes public safety building step
October, 19, 2015

By Solomon Gustavo
Staff Writer

COKATO, MN - Cokato City Council discussed purchasing land for a future public safety building at it’s meeting Oct. 12.

The council is currently considering a plot of land a little less than 200 acres, according to Fire Chief Hutch Erickson, who spoke on behalf of the Cokato Fire Department. Mayor Gordy Erickson said both the city and Cokato Ambulance Service have committed funds to the project, and he will meet with the Cokato Fire Commission about the land.

Mayor Erickson suggested the council approve soil borings to “check if (the land) is good enough to build on.” The land will be surveyed after the borings, he said.

City engineer Josh Halvorson recalled the price of a recent soil boring commissioned by the city being between $3,000 and $4,000.

Before deciding to approve soil borings, council member Butch Amundsen asked how the entire public safety building project, not just the land purchase, fits into the city’s long-term plans. “Please, don’t take this the wrong way; I’m all in favor of this fire safety building. But, in our long-range plans, if we don’t plan on having

that on the referendum, why are we purchasing the property?” Amundsen asked the council. “Just keep that in mind.”

Mayor Erickson agreed, saying the way the council should include a public safety building into its long-term plans is to see where land purchase consideration ends up.

Five soil borings were approved for the plot.

Odds and Ends

In other business, the council:
• approved the implementation of online bill pay for public services. City Clerk Andrew Carlson said he has experience with the software, Payment Service Network, Inc. (PSN), implementing it for the cities of Dassel and Montrose.

Carlson said it will take three to four weeks for all of the city’s accounts to be uploaded. The software allows for Cokato residents to pay their bills to the city by credit or debit card online or in person at city hall. Residents can also set up a recurring, automatic bill pay.

Amundsen said he hopes the online outlet will result in “not as many delinquencies and shut offs” for the City.

• discussed scheduling a workshop with yet-to-be-determined technology advisors on pricing, compatibility, and capability of electronic devices for potential purchase to be used by council members and city staff. The council is considering electronic devices to reduce paper use.

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