Harris City Council briefs

The following actions and discussion points were addressed at the June 9 Harris City Council meeting.

Harris city audit

Dennis Oberloh with Oberloh & Associates presented the 2013 Harris city audit.

Oberloh’s opinion of the Harris accounts was that they were clean. The city followed the rules of how the accounts should be kept for a municipality.

Oberloh said the audit reflects a $15,000 decrease from intergovernmental revenues. This was caused by the lowering of the state funded local government aid to cities. The revenue from taxes increased by 2 percent. The largest share of revenue for the city is from taxes. Oberloh stressed that the city is right in line with other cities in the state that his firm audits.

American Legion building lease

The city presently leases a building to the American Legion. Because of liability issues, the city had requested the Legion obtain insurance to protect the city from any future lawsuits should an accident happen at the facility. The city provides coverage on the structure, but not liability coverage.

American Legion Post 139 Commander John Ploetz came before the council to review what was being requested of the post. The Legion had received three bids from three local insurance agencies. Ploetz had the results and indicated to the council that the cost of the $1 million coverage on the building and the liability coverage to protect the city was more than the Legion could afford. Clerk Joanne Dargay asked for copies of the least expensive bid. Dargay said she would send it to the city’s insurance company to verify exactly what coverage on the proposal was required. Dargay said she thinks the bid was to cover both the building and the liability, which should not be necessary. The actual cost may be cut in half. Dargay said when an answer is available, the Legion will be contacted.

Frozen water lines

The city also dealt with an ongoing issue since last winter: frozen water lines. The council had sent the issue to the Planning Commission to review and decide if the ordinance needs to be rewritten.

The issue that might need to be addressed is when the city or a resident is responsible for water lines. The present ordinance was unclear, according to the city. The Planning Commission reviewed and debated the issue, expressed some opinions, none of which were unanimous, and pushed what action should be taken back to the council.

Councilman Randy Carlson was of the opinion that the curb stop should be where the owner’s responsibility should end. Many of the water service lines run under the city streets. The owner would not have the ability to access those lines to work on them without tearing up the city street.

Mayor Diane Miller was of the opinion that the property owner is responsible from the building on the property to the water main, wherever it is. She thought only the property owner can take the necessary steps to try to keep the water line from freezing, such as keeping a small amount of water running — the city has no control and therefore should not be responsible.

Other issues also arose: During a frost upheaval if a rock pushes against the line and closes it off, who’s responsibility would that be?

Rather than deal with every “what if” case that could occur, the council chose to amend the present ordinance to clarify that the property owner is responsible for frozen water lines from the building to the water main.

Road grader purchase

A review of the different options for the road grader were presented.

Dargay had contacted other governmental entities that contract out snow plowing. The actual cost is not a great deal less than operating their own grader, and what cost is saved is offset by the limited access the city would have should there be a situation where the grader is needed quickly.

After further discussion, it was decided that the city would move forward to purchase a quality used grader. Because of the cost of the grader, a request for bids will be prepared and published.

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