Harris City Council briefs

The following actions and discussion points were addressed at the Sept. 12
Stacy City Council meeting.

Preliminary levy adopted
The Harris City Council adopted the preliminary property tax levy for the upcoming year. The amount certified was $522,157. This is an increase of $35,000 from the prior year, which equates to a rise of 7.18 percent. The last two years, the preliminary amount was an 8.22 percent increase, but the final actual increase was 2.10 percent each year. This amount is the maximum amount that can be levied. Between now and the Truth in Taxation meeting, scheduled for Dec. 6, the amount can be lowered. Historically, the Harris Council has been able to find cuts to lower the projected increase.

Substandard lot
The city owns a substandard lot that is not buildable. It was purchased as a foreclosed property for $50. The city then hired C & H Construction to clean the debris from the area and clean up the lot. The original bid was for around $3,000, but C & H Construction was able to complete the cleanup for $1,179. The total amount the city has into the property is $1,229. City Attorney Ted Alliegro told the council there are instances where the city can sell property for less than cost, for a nominal amount of money. Unfortunately, this is not one of those instances. Alliegro suggested contacting the two property owners that border this property to see if one of them would be interested in purchasing the property for cost. If not, then the city has the option of putting the non-buildable lot up for sale to the general public or retain the property until such time as an interest is expressed.

Waste water treatment
facility report
People Service filed a written report on the operation of the waste water treatment facility and the water treatment plant. The water treatment plant operates from well No. 2, which was put in at the same time the water treatment plant was constructed. An inspection of well No. 1 was done. This was necessary should the city wish to use well No. 1 in an emergency case. The written report on the status of well No. 1 suggested that the well be taken out of service and a grant be obtained to pay for the sealing of the well. It appears that the casing is old and rotting. An attempt to vacuum and clean the well could be done, but that may cause more damage to the casing, and the well could collapse. The report suggested drilling an additional well, either 12 inches or, at a minimum, 8 inches in diameter. This was not a project that needed to be acted upon immediately, but the council noted it should be kept in consideration.

Mayor, council member pay
Mayor Diane Miller provided a chart to the council members showing what other cities pay their mayor and council members. Miller brought this to the council’s attention because the League of Minnesota Cities suggested that if a change in salary would be done, September was the best month to make that change. That is because any change in what the council members are paid must be in place before the upcoming election. Also, any change would not go into effect until after the first of the year and would apply to the newly elected mayor and council. The charge showed a wide range of cities and amounts. The smallest city to respond was Dunnell, with a population of 160. The largest was Gilbert, with a population of 1,799. Of the 31 cities that responded, all paid their mayors and council members more than the city of Harris did. Some paid their councils a flat base rate, with no stipend for attending meetings. Some paid the council members only when they attended a meeting. And some paid their councils both a flat rate and for attending the meeting. After much discussion, it was decided to increase the amount the council members receive to $50 per meeting, whether a regular scheduled meeting or a special meeting. At a future date, the same information will be complied for Planning Commissioners, and a review will be done of what those members are paid.

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