DASSEL, MN Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze told the Dassel City Council last Monday that calls for service within the county had increased 4.5 percent in 2016.
Nine-hundred-fifty-two calls for service came from the city of Dassel in 2016. In the same time frame, 668 calls came from Dassel Township. The city of Litchfield was responsible for 4,628 calls, over half of the county total of 8,887 for the year.
Cruze noted the number of thefts in the county was decreasing, but thefts from motor vehicles are increasing.
Cruze also indicated his department was keeping close watch over sex trafficking in the area.
“No small community is safe, because of the internet,” he said. “We know it’s here and we’re trying to combat it the best we can.”
Cruze strongly advocated for children to be aware that their online activity was highly accessible by anyone.
“There’s a big learning curve for younger kids,” he said. “Be careful who you’re friending.”
Late fee penalty
The council addressed a motion to amend the 2017 annual fee schedule to increase the utility late fee penalty from 1.5 percent to 5 percent.
Council member Andrew Carlson was troubled by the proposed increase.
“Late fees hurt people who are already having a hard time,” he said.
The council passed a motion to table the late fee penalty increase for discussion in January 2018.
City clerk spending limit
The council entertained a motion to authorize the city clerk to approve city purchases or contracts from a current limit of $500, to a limit of $2,500.
Items approved needed to be within the approved department’s budget, and there must be sufficient funds to cover the purchase. Claims must be recorded on the claims lists approved by the council following the purchase.
Council member Sherrie Bjork didn’t like the proposed jump from $500 to $2,500.
“I’m uncomfortable with a big increase,” she said. “I’m more comfortable with $1,000.”
The council approved the city clerk spending limit change from $500 to $1,000.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• asked to review a non-exclusive water tower lease agreement with the city attorney.
Although the attorney had recommended the council approve the agreement, council members wanted further details about potential tenant additions of antennas, dishes or grids on top of the water tower.
• encouraged Public Works Director Troy Zwilling to present additional bids for a utility line locator and for re-striping and repainting curbing downtown. Zwilling had presented one bid for each project.
• discussed sidewalk repair along Guy Street. Residents were concerned that the crumbling sidewalk presented both a trip-and-fall hazard, as well as a damage hazard if sidewalk chunks were kicked up by snowblowers, snowplows, or other vehicles.
City Clerk/Treasurer Terri Boese said that although sidewalk maintenance was included in the capital improvement fund, nothing has been done to city sidewalks in the past three years.
The council tasked Zwilling to review city sidewalks and report back with several repair bids.
• reviewed Boese’s monthly report. Among other items, the report noted the city auditor had completed on-site work and was preparing the 2016 annual audit report for council and staff review.
Boese’s report also reminded the council of many upcoming meeting dates, as well as the scheduling of city -wide garage sales for Friday, April 28 and Saturday, April 29, and city-wide cleanup day, scheduled for Saturday, May 20.
• approved an off-sale 3.2 liquor license for Casey’s General Store, and approved an on-sale 3.2 liquor license for the Cokato-Dassel Lions Club for the Saints ball field for May 1 to Sept. 1.