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What to do with $25,000?

After listening to a presentation from West Central Initiative last month, the city of Ottertail has decided not to have someone else administer funds left over from a loan pool.

When the city's loan pool expired, $25,000 was left in the fund - with no guidelines for using the money.

The city explored the option of working with WCI to create either a separate component fund or put the money into a general loan pool at WCI. With the amount in the fund being relatively small, council members decided it would not be advantageous for the city to have someone else administer the funds at this time.

"You could probably use the money for improvements for the city as a whole," councilmember Mike Windey suggested at the March 15 meeting of the Ottertail City Council. He said this could include adding new equipment to the community park or purchasing additional decorations for the city.

Mayor Myron Lueders questioned whether or not the city should try to grow that amount. One possibility would be to fundraise or budget for the fund so it could grow every year.

Lee Sherman, city maintenance supervisor, suggested using the money to help support existing businesses in town, in addition to providing financial incentives for new businesses looking to open in the community. The council members decided they would like to gather input from local business owners about how a fund of this nature could be most helpful. For example, some cities have funds available for businesses to invest in storefront renovations or projects of a similar nature.

Donations for park equipment, otter

A resolution was passed on March 15 acknowledging a donation from the Ottertail Auction Committee. The committee donated additional playground equipment for the community park. This equipment, valued at $7,245, was purchased on Oct. 10, 2010.

The city also received a donation of $1,000 from the Ottertail Lions Club to cover the expense of moving the otter statue.

City Hall lighting

Ottertail City Hall will soon be brighter with the addition of some new outdoor lighting. Mark Huber, with Huber Electric, provided the city with three different options for outdoor lighting.

The council passed a motion to accept Huber's proposal for the induction lighting option. The cost for one 40W induction wallpack, three 120W induction pole lights, and labor totals $2,352. This includes a 10-year warranty and 100,000 hour lamp life.

The city plans to use the poles already on the property. Sherman mentioned that these poles are getting rusty, so they may need to be sanded or painted. Huber will also be eliminating the dimmer switches from the lights inside City Hall.

ARMOR radio grant awarded

"I received word from Adam [former Ottertail Fire Chief] that the radio system grant was awarded to East Otter Tail County," Elaine Hanson, city clerk-treasurer, informed members of the council.

There is a 10 percent match required from the city for the grant. This makes the city's share approximately $4,600-5,600. A 2009 grant from the Espland Foundation provided $8,000 for these radios.

In a related matter, the council passed a motion to appoint Stuart Fleischauer fire chief and Holly Burke training officer for the city of Ottertail. Lueders mentioned how at the most recent drill of the fire department he was impressed with Fleischauer's leadership.

"I think we're going to be real happy," said Lueders.

MIR3 update

Councilmember Heather Rosenthal reported that she met with some of the county's safety leaders regarding the MIR3 emergency alert system Ottertail will soon be using.

"Their goal is to have it up and running and on our website for people to register by next month," she said.

The county would like to do some test runs with the council and the fire chief before the system is used by the public. This will allow them time to fix any glitches that may arise. The city will then work on getting the word out to the public. They would like the system to be fully functional by the time seasonal residents return to the area this spring.

Starting in April, the Ottertail City Council will begin meeting twice a month. The next meeting is scheduled for 7 a.m. on Thursday, April 5 at City Hall.