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HL accountant/treasurer resigns-investigation initiatiated
March 23, 2018

By Nancy Dashwood
Staff Writer

HOWARD LAKE – Although there was no council discussion about them during the meeting March 20, the Howard Lake City Council approved two personnel items as part of the consent agenda.

The first stated that Meghan Merges, accountant/treasurer, is no longer employed with the City of Howard Lake.

The second stated Shari Zander has been appointed interim accountant/treasurer.

City Administrator Nick Haggenmiller confirmed Wednesday morning that the city council accepted Merges’ resignation, and “the city is actively investigating suspicion of theft.” No charges have been filed.

Classification and compensation

Dr. Tessia Melvin, representing David Drown Associates, was present at the request of city staff to discuss how Howard Lake could benefit from a classification and compensation study that would evaluate many factors to ensure employees or groups are classified properly, and paid fairly for the work they perform.

Howard Lake administrative staff requested the study because of potential retirements, and probable city growth, which would lead to hiring additional employees.

Melvin detailed Howard Lake’s study would include analysis of market data, job descriptions, pay structure, pay ranges, and internal equity.

The study would also compare Howard Lake’s data to other area cities.

Haggenmiller noted they wanted to fast-track the project, and Melvin confirmed the study could be completed by the end of May.

The council voted to proceed with the study, with the caveat that it not exceed $10,000. Reserve city funds will be used to cover the expense.

Special vehicles OK?

Haggenmiller and Police Chief Dave Thompson presented a draft of a resolution that would allow the use of motorized golf carts, utility task vehicles, and Class 1 all-terrain vehicles to be lawfully used in some areas within city limits.

They advised the council that snowmobiles could be added to the list of legal vehicles at the council’s discretion.

Haggenmiller indicated the proposed resolution was in direct response to citizen inquiries about such usage.

Rules and regulations included with the proposed ordinance have been established.

Rules mandate special vehicle owners must get an annual $10 city permit for each special vehicle. Proof of insurance on the special vehicle would also be required.

To be permissible on city streets, designated sidewalks, and trails, permitted special vehicles will be allowed, provided that:

• they display a City of Howard Lake permit sticker on the rear of the vehicle;

• the operator possesses a valid drivers license;

• ATV operators ages 15 to 17 possess ATV safety certification;

• verification of insurance must be carried at all times;

• a slow moving vehicle emblem is displayed on rear of golf carts;

• the vehicle is equipped with a rear-view mirror;

• the number of passengers is limited to seating capacity; and

• the vehicle is driven on the far right side of the road, except when making a left turn.

Special vehicles would be prohibited from:

• operating on state or federal highways, except to cross at designated intersections, which is applicable to County Road 6, County Road 7, and State Highway 12;

• operating during inclement weather or limited visibility;

• operating between sunset and sunrise; unless equipped with original equipment headlights, taillights, and rear-facing brake lights; and

• exceeding speeds of 20 miles per hour.

Two resolutions regarding the use of special vehicles are set for consideration at the council’s next regular meeting, Tuesday, April 17.

Summer-ready streets

The council reviewed information regarding 2018’s slate of paving projects.

Projects include:

• the reclaim of Imhoff Avenue from County Road 7 to Ash Street;

• the construction of a multi-modal trail adjacent to Imhoff Avenue from County Road 7 to Ash Street;

• the construction of a parking lot at the southeast corner of State Highway 12 and County Road 6;

• the construction of a multi-modal trail from State Highway 12/County Road 6 to the Wright County fairgrounds.

Sealed bids were sought for all the projects, with the stipulation that the downtown parking lot be completed by June 21, in time for Good Neighbor Days; the County Highway 6 trail be completed by July 15, in time for the Wright County Fair; and the entire list of projects must be complete by Aug. 30.

The estimated total cost for all the paving projects is $539, 066.

Four complete bids for the projects were received by the city. The council approved awarding the bid to Mid Minnesota Hot Mix of Annandale. The company was the low bidder by approximately $70,000.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• set spring cleanup day for Saturday, May 5.

• appointed Councilor Jason Deiter to the city’s Parks and Planning Commission, and approved advertising for an added commission vacancy.

• approved a temporary on-sale liquor license for Good Neighbor Days.

• reviewed an in-depth facility assessment and space needs study overview with Bruce Schwartzman, of BKV Group in Minneapolis.

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