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New York Mills city council approves meter franchise fee

The city council on Tuesday passed an ordinance implementing an electric franchise fee on Otter Tail Power Company for providing electric service within the city of New York Mills.

The franchise fee will be imposed on the utility company on a per meter basis. The fee schedule will be $1 per meter on residential, commercial, and public building properties.

According to information provided at Tuesday's meeting there are 459 premises with one meter, 134 premises with two meters, four premises with three meters, and one premise with four meters.

The council decided to implement the flat $1 franchise fee on the first meter only, with a total of 598 meters subject to the fees. Based on the numbers provided, the franchise fee will generate $7,176 annually. The funds will be dedicated to keeping the community swimming pool open.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission allows the utility company to add a surcharge to customer rates to reimburse the company for the cost of the fee.

(The fee was incorrectly reported last week as a gas meter fee.)

Fire department new hire

The city council approved a recommendation to hire Shannon Kline to the fire department. The candidate successfully completed the physical skills testing and oral interview, and will have a physician's examination. Kline will be added to the fire department roster pending completion of the physician's exam, drivers license and background check.

The council also accepted the resignation of Dan Welter, who was on the department for over 20 years.

Greenhouse request

The city council is considering a request by the owner of Bloomer's A&K Greenhouse to set up a portable hut to sell bedding plants in the spring in the Sculpture Park. The written request stated the hut would be used to sell bedding plants for six weeks, and the city would not be liable for any vandalism which may occur.

Acting mayor Dianna Wallgren discussed the issue with council members Julie Gerber and Bill Warner (Mayor Larry Hodgson and Richard Rankka were not present at Tuesday's meeting.) It was unclear Tuesday whether the business wanted to be part of the Farmer's Market. Wallgren indicated the city should get more information as to possible locations before approving the request. One suggestion was Bloomer's could contact a NY Mills business and possibly set up in a parking lot, rather than the Sculpture Park.

Newtown Township plowing

In a letter written by Darla Berry, City Clerk, on behalf of the city council, the city notified Newton Township that the city would either begin billing $500 per year for plowing/blading service on the southern edge of the city limits, or cease providing this service commencing in mid-February of this year.

The decision came as part of the city's plan to deal with reductions in state aid to New York Mills. The city has provided snow plowing/blading in the area of Newton Township located at the southern edge of city limits, and the township has not been billed for the service.

The response from Newton Township officials was the township will take care of the snow removal.