The following actions and discussion points were addressed at the May 13 Harris City Council meeting:
Public works position still vacant
As the summer season gets closer, the city of Harris has not yet hired a Public Works Department employee.
That means there is currently no one to mow the grass on city property. Fire Chief Trevor Williams has volunteered to help, but he does not have the time to keep up with all of the maintenance in the city and other duties a public works employee would handle and still do his full-time job. The city has to determine whether to hire a part-time employee as in the past, or go with a full-time employee, hoping more people will apply.
In the past, the city has contracted the mowing, calling a company to mow when needed. The company was then paid per time, as opposed to contracting for a scheduled time to mow. It was decided that the city will again contract the mowing this year, putting an ad for bids and contacting the companies that had expressed an interest in the past.
Road improvements needed
One of the other public maintenance items that needs to be taken care of is the roads. The council said roads need to be graded and additional gravel needs to be applied.
Greg James, a resident who lives on Harder Avenue, expressed concern about the road he lives on. James questioned the council as to what criteria the city uses to determine which roads get gravel and which ones don’t. James said he feels that part of the taxes paid by the residents are to fund the roads and keep them, at a minimum, safe. He said Harder Avenue does not meet minimum standards. James said if he leaves his house on his motorcycle and it rains, because of the drainage problems, he may not be able to get back to his house. After years and years of neglect, James said he realizes it would take a lot of money to bring Harder Avenue up to minimum standards.
James asked the council members to visit with the residents on Harder Avenue when they are determining which roads need the most work and will get the most gravel.
Sign, sign, not everywhere a sign
In dealing with money issues, the council listened to a report by Sarah Wold and Cindy Gregoire concerning what should be done about the Harris city sign. Presently, there is not one. So Wold and Gregorie were charged with finding out what could be done to find a sign, with no funding.
Gregorie suggested the city take a two-pronged approach. First, do a short-term fix, possibly with a temporary sign. But in doing so, plan for a better sign and begin working to get it done. Wold and Gregorie said they felt two signs, one at the north end and also on the south end of Railroad Park, would be the best option.
Then the design of the new signs would have to be addressed. Wold and Gregorie brought a number of different examples of signs used in towns with a population similar to Harris. The cost for a commercial-grade sign could be up to $3,000. To fund this, they suggested establishing a sign fund. Donations could be collected to fill the fund.
Liquor license renewals
Most years, liquor license renewals in Harris are a simple matter, but this year some disciplinary action needed to be taken before all the licenses were approved.
During a liquor and tobacco compliance check run by the Chisago County Sheriff’s Department, an employee of Goin’ Up North off-sale liquors was caught selling to a minor.
This resulted in a misdemeanor offense.
After that offense was processed, all the other liquor and tobacco licenses were approved.
New contract with sheriff’s office
The Chisago County Sheriff’s Office also provided to the council a new two-year contract for law enforcement services.
Last year’s price was $49.97 per hour.
This year, that cost is increasing to $52.28 per hour for a minimum of 20 hours per month.
Mayor Diane Miller pointed out that the contract did not have to be executed until the end of June and asked that the matter be tabled till the June meeting.
She also asked that the sheriff to attend that meeting.
Other council actions
•Kevin Grote with the North Branch Fire Department provided copies of an automatic aid contract for the city to sign. This sets up areas within the North Branch fire district, where if mutual aid is required, the Harris Fire Department would be automatically called. This agreement has been in place for quite some time, but Grote indicated that to get a benefit on the homeowners insurance ISO rating, the contract had to be signed by all parties. Once all parties have signed, Harris will be provided with a copy, also signed by all parties.
•The council approved the purchase of $1,500 in parts to repair the actuator for the wastewater treatment facility.