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Ottertail hopes to partner with county on roads; Council approves 5 percent levy increase for 2013

After a recent Ottertail City Council meeting, Interstate Engineering's Chris McConn spoke with city staff members about developing a capital improvement plan spreadsheet. This will help the city determine the order and cost of repairing roads over the next few years.

"Lee [Sherman] and I went around and looked at different roads that should be sealcoated and other roads that need to be rebuilt," McConn reported at the Sept. 6 meeting. In general, he felt the city's roads were in good condition.

In the near future, the city is looking at sealcoating a handful of roads. This will help increase the longevity of the bituminous the city has now.

McConn said the county is planning to do $1 million worth of work next year and the city has the opportunity to include their work with the county's bid.

"You'd save on professional fees because the county would be doing this as a public service to you," McConn advised. His recommendation was that the city wait until next year to pursue the sealcoating projects in order to partner with the county and cut back on costs.

Otter Tail County typically sends out a letter each year asking cities if they would like to partner with them in sealcoating work. Ottertail Maintenance Coordinator Lee Sherman said he will watch for the letter this year and be prepared to make a decision about what to do as soon as he gets it.

Bay View park concerns

Otter Tail Lake property owner Ed Smith shared some concerns with the council regarding proposed work on the Bay View park area. This 66-foot section of land is owned by the city.

The city has recently been looking into the possibility of improving the area for community use. Improvement plans include putting riprap on the hill to prevent erosion, adding benches, and landscaping the area. The goal would be to allow room for two or three cars to park straight in off of Bay View Road.

One of the things Smith mentioned is how snowmobilers use that area to get out onto Otter Tail Lake. If riprap were in place, they wouldn't be able to access the lake and might start venturing onto neighboring private property.

However, if a section were left open it would encourage swimming in the area. The intention of the park is not to create a space for people to swim, but rather a quiet park area with two or three benches where people can sit and watch the sunset.

"It sounds like we need to do a lot of research on this before we do anything," summarized Mayor Myron Lueders.

Economic development

"I've got some names of possible economic development directors," Elaine Hanson, city clerk/treasurer, informed members of the council. "I'm looking for some input from the council to come up with some type of a request for proposals."

At this point, the city needs to detail what they would like to see an economic developer do and how many hours they'd like to hire someone for.

Councilmember Don Patrick has agreed to help the city work to figure out which direction to go in with the economic development effort. Patrick mentioned that since the economy is improving a bit, there may be more people looking to open a business in the community.

Other business

The council approved a resolution adopting a proposed levy amount of $346,027 for 2013. This would be a five percent increase from last year. This establishes that the finalized levy amount could be lower than 5 percent, but not higher.

The council also acknowledged a donation of $500 from the Ottertail Lions Club for miscellaneous supplies for the Ottertail Fire Department. After receiving donations from several local sources, the fire department will be ordering a fire thermal imaging camera.

As a reminder, the next regular meeting of the Ottertail City Council has been moved to Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m.