Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By A. R. Vander Vegt
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Questions over blight procedure, cost


November 29, 2018

Questions of blight procedure and cost were brought up at Sturgeon Lake’s regular city council meeting on Friday, November 9.

In October, Sturgeon Lake residents had attended the meeting with concerns about a bill they had received. The residents had received a blight notice and given time to clean up their property. Because they had not met the deadline, the city called in Evergreen Recycling, which assisted in disposal. The city fronted the bill to Evergreen, and now has passed the bill on to the residents of the property.

The residents felt their property did not require the city to call in Evergreen to assist in clean-up. Their property, they said, was already cleaned up by the time Evergreen was called in. As a result, they don’t feel it is their responsibility to pay the bill since it was not necessitated in the first place.

In response to their complaint in October, the council requested a bill delineation from Evergreen Recycling to look over in order to understand the cost.

Ultimately, though, the council decided the specifics had little to do with the issue at hand.

Councilor Diane Jacobson questioned the principle of not seeking reimbursement from the residents. If they footed the whole bill this time simply due to a disagreement without substantiated evidence, what sort of precedent would the city be setting up in the future?

“I absolutely understand where they’re coming from,” councilor Marsha Helfman said. However, she added, a cost was still incurred by the city on their behalf.

Additionally, the residents had not met the deadline the city gave them for clean-up.

The council decided to inform the residents of their decision to enforce payment of the bill as is via tax assessment.

Divvying up duties

Clerk Carole Lahti updated the council about the differentiation between clerk and treasurer duties.

In March, former treasurer Loralea Beede-Slocum brought up that the two positions did not have “clear-cut job duties.”

Lahti reported during the November meeting she and treasurer Kathy Lake are working to “break responsibilities down for better internal control” and to set up a system of “checks and balances.”

Mayor Elizabeth Cisar added that they are “in the process of obtaining an ordinance delineating duties.”

Plat discussion

Art Underhill, Ron Kohner and Ron Mlaskoch are back to square one for their plat proposal. The council informed the men that their “plat is incomplete.” Their current plan, they continued, is so different from the original presented, an application for a Conditional Use Permit needs to be resubmitted.

The council also requested that building site locations be identified on the plan, that flood plain concerns be squared away, as well as identification of possible septic tank and well sites on the various lots.

One major concern the council brought up is the plat’s compliance to their floodplain ordinance, which came from the Department of Natural Resources.

Road contract update

Road Commissioner Jessica Langhorst updated the council about the city’s current contractor for road maintenance. She had reported during the October meeting that the contract expires in December. After going back to meeting minutes, Langhorst discovered the contract doesn’t expire until July or August of next year.

In the meantime, Langhorst will work on nailing down more specific language to include in the contract. She is using the Minnesota League of Cities guidelines and will present proposed contracts in March.

Other business

Since October’s meeting, city hall has been repaired, Scott Helfman reported. “Everything is done.” Roof leaks are sealed and the bills are in to be paid.

Helfman also shared that the DekTek water and sewer hook-up would be done within the week of the meeting. “Everything is coming on as anticipated,” he said.

Lahti read a letter from John M. Warp’s attorney office in Moose Lake. The letter conveyed to the council that the late Hazel Grazin, a longtime resident of Sturgeon Lake, had named the park and fire funds as beneficiaries in the amount of $5,000 each.

The council expressed immense gratitude in receiving the funds. Lahti will look into interest rates between a Certificate of Deposit versus a regular savings account before the council decides where to specifically allocate the funds.


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