By Ivan Raconteur
Lester Prairie City Council approved a preliminary levy of $742,142 during its Sept. 13 meeting, an increase of $67,412, or 9.99 percent, from the 2016 levy.
The council could reduce the levy before the final amount is certified in December, but it cannot increase it.
The city’s levy increased by 6.78 percent in 2016. There was no increase in 2015, and there was a 1.29 percent levy increase in 2014.
The preliminary budget and levy were both approved 3-2, with council members Tim Dahl, Larry Hoof, and Bob Messer in favor, and Mayor Eric Angvall and Council Member Ron Foust opposed.
Water tower service agreement approved
The council approved a service contract with Maguire Iron for cleaning and inspection of the water tower.
The vote was 3-2, with Angvall, Hoof, and Messer in favor; and Dahl and Foust opposed.
The 10-year contract includes cleaning and inspection every other year at a cost of $2,950 per service.
Lee Ortloff of PeopleService, the city’s water and wastewater plant operator, said the city has had mixed results with other vendors.
Maguire Iron built the city’s water tower in 1995, Ortloff noted, and the company has been in the industry a long time.
The last time the city’s water tower was cleaned was in 2013.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved a rate increase requested by city attorney Jody Winters for civil and criminal (prosecutions) matters from $125 per hour to $145 per hour. The old rate had been in effect since 2013. The vote was 4-1, with Angvall, Hoof, Messer, and Foust in favor; and Dahl opposed.
• noted 144 city pool passes were sold in 2016. The number sold was 143 in 2015, 127 in 2014, 139 in 2013, 159 in 2012, and 131 in 2011.
• approved increasing the benefit level in the volunteer firefighter retirement plan from $1,000 to $1,200.
• approved a request from Harvest Community Church to conduct hayrides in the city Monday, Oct. 31, provided the church has insurance and lights and a slow-moving vehicle sign on the trailer.
The request was approved 4-1, with Angvall, Hoof, Messer, and Foust in favor; and Dahl opposed.
• authorized Economic Development Coordinator Adam Birkholz to move forward with the process of establishing an economic development authority (EDA).
Birkholz said he hopes to have a proposal ready for the council to review in October or November.