In a council meeting just topping 15 minutes, the Fountain Council briefly hit at a few items including the community center and past due utility issues, a contract, police department status, the final adoption a wastewater plan, and annual renewals.
In new business, City Clerk Rhonda Flattum noted that a number of accounts are past due and Public Works had posted seven shut off notices October 3. The properties are scheduled to have the utility terminated Tuesday, October 9. Per current policy, shut off notices are delivered when accounts fall three months past due. Property owners receiving shut off notices are also subject to a $25 disconnect and $25 reconnection fee.
“Some are in the $600-800 range. After three months, it’s hard to get caught up,” said Flattum.
Councilor Jim Schott questioned billing and due timelines and whether or not shut off notices should be delivered after one month (plus current) past due. Eventually discussion led to a motion to give notice after two months past due. “Let’s see what happens,” added Councilor David Gudmundson. The decision was approved unanimously.
Another ongoing problem for the city is community center revenue. Flattum states that the expenses for the center, through September 30, are $3,415, while the revenue from rentals is just $2,600. The Community Center Fund’s only consistent revenue stream is rentals. Rental of the center is $200 and discussion centered on raising the rate to make up some of the deficit as well as bringing the rental fee in line with what other municipalities are charging.
Councilor Chad Wangen cautioned the council that the fees had previously been upped, which led to no rentals, forcing the council to lower the fee again. Mayor Richard Kujath noted that it had been some time. It was estimated that the rate adjustment had occured within the last ten years.
Schott suggested the fee be raised to $300. “I don’t think it’s out of line myself,” added Clerk Flattum. After further discussion, the council approved increasing the rate to $400. The city will honor all currently booked rentals at the $200 fee.
Other discussion of the center included complaints of the concrete floor, which can add to noise level. Councilor Brian Ostby suggested the city check with the Preston Area Community Foundation to see if there are any funds to help with flooring upgrades. Additionally, Gudmundson noted the rear exterior of the building is badly in need of paint.
A quote from Central Tank Coating, Inc., was presented for the powerwashing of dirt and mold off the water tower. The 100,000-gallon pedestal tank frequently develops mold along the lower edge. Flattum noted it had been suggested that a mixer be added to minimize the problem. The council offered no further discussion of the suggestion, but approved the $4,500 maintenance quote.
After much back and forth between WSB Engineering, Valley Design, and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the city has adopted its official Phosphorus Management Plan. MPCA has cleared the plan and it was delivered to Valley Design last week.
The state has requested the city declare its Police Officers Standards & Training (POST) status. According to Flattum, because the city no longer has an active police department, the state is requesting the city either report department status as inactive or disband the department all together.
Following the retirement of Chief Tom Mosher last year, the city opted to contract for law enforcement with the Preston Police Department. Gudmundson questioned whether the city could elect to have its own department in the future should the city choose to disband. The council unanimously decided to report the department’s status as inactive.
In annual bookkeeping, the city approved a liability coverage waiver with the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust and a Joint Powers Agreement for the City of Fountain and City Attorney Dwight Luhmann as designated authority and designated prosecuting attorney. Both items are renewals.
The next 150th Celebration planning meeting will be held Wednesday, October 10, at 7 p.m., at City Hall. Interested persons are asked to attend.
A public meeting is slated for October 24, at 7 p.m., at City Hall. All residents and property owners are encouraged to attend.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Wednesday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m., at City Hall.