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NY Mills council mulls new purchases

The New York Mills City Council heard reports on the purchase of two pieces of potentially vital equipment for its police and public utilities departments.

The police department has ordered a new police car to replace a Chevrolet Impala, the lease for which expired in May. The new car will be black and any detailing and customization will be done with “local options” where possible, said Police Chief Jim Van Schaick.

Additionally, the council discussed purchasing a new or used truck and skid loader for the Public Utilities department.

“Committing to a new police car and a skid steer and a truck feels like a lot at once,” said councilperson Betsy Roeder.

“How’s it going to look to the public if we’re buying brand new everything?” asked City Clerk Darla Berry.

“If you’re living in this town, do you want the people who are keeping your stuff up to have decent stuff?” asked Josh Hoaby, who felt that the difference in price between a new and used skid loader would be negligible, although he was quick to point out that he had only done a cursory examination of prices.

“Whatever we decide, I think we have the funds, but we need to budget to…replenish the funds,” Berry said, referring to the roughly $309,000 the council has been saving for “these kinds of purchases.”

After considerable discussion, the council authorized Public Works Director Roger Salo to get bids for a new or used skid loader and approved a motion to purchase a new or used truck with a budget of $22,000.

In other news, the council:

-Discussed charging residents $400 per hour for in-town fire calls.  The rate is “comparable” to what the NY Mills Fire Department bills residents of nearby townships that it covers through contracts, according to documents provided at the meeting. Perham, Deer Creek, Vergas, Hewitt, Menahga and Sebeka all charge for in-town fires, according to the department.

Berry said there was “general support” for the idea, and she will find more information on the potential charges.  The council will revisit the issue next month.

-Asked for an extension to discuss new possibilities that have recently arisen with the potential donation of the Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action Council building to the city.  One of the possibilities discussed was demolition of the current building, which would cost roughly $50,000, said councilperson Jason Schick.

Mayor Julie Gerber, who is also on the community action council board, and councilor Betsy Roeder, who is on the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center’s board, recused themselves from the motion due to concerns about conflicts of interest. The cultural center is also in the running to obtain the building.