Vergas City Council discusses water, sewer rates
By Barbie Porter
During a recent land auction, Josh Hanson purchased land along West Lake Drive. During the Tuesday, Sept. 14 council meeting, he announced intention to create a residential development at the 37 acre site.
Hanson said his vision was to have larger lots, about 21/2 acres in size, for single family structures, as well as a few lake shore lots along Lawrence Lake.
He said a surveyor would be visiting the site and the platting process would begin.
Hanson also asked if the city would be interested in selling abutting land to him, which he would add to the development.
In September of 2016 the Vergas City Council held a special council meeting to discuss purchasing the 16 acre parcel.
Lammers explained when land is tax-forfeited in a city, the city is approached and given first dibs. The city council at the time opted to purchase the property for $33,290. Since it has been used as a shop and storage area.
The Otter Tail County parcel information states about 10 acres is “wasteland” with the remaining being high pasture non production land. The total 2022 assessed value is $62,500.
Water tank inspection completed, water and
sewer rates discussed
The council reviewed an inspection of its water tank. The inspection recommended painting inside of the tank between three and five years. The estimated cost for that work was stated to be $125,000. The exterior of the water tower would need work sometime between six and 11 years with an estimated cost of $176,000.
To help pay for maintenance projects, the council must keep the water and sewer funds in the black. For a few years the council has seen the enterprise funds go into the red. Because the funds are required to be self sufficient, the council agreed to increase rates until they reach even.
The council agreed to raise water rates from $3.50 to $3.75 per 1,000 gallons and keep the base rate of $28 as is.
The sewer rates were also raised from $2.50 to $2.75 per 1,000 gallons with the base rate remaining at $28.
Both rate changes were approved to take effect as of Jan. 1, 2022.
A portable dehumidifier was purchased for the water plant. While the initial purchase was estimated to be about $20,000, the Utilities Superintendent Mike DuFrane found one for $2,000 at a trade show. The difference is the more expensive one is mounted to the wall whereas the cheaper one is portable. It was noted the cheaper one is also used at the Frazee water tower, and DuFrane opted to purchase that one.
In other news
• The council discussed adding a platform near the walking trail and floating boardwalk to aid in a landowner accessing the lake front. The previous landowner had granted a trail easement on the property.
The council and its counsel had previously asked the landowner and the person attending meetings on his behalf to submit any questions they have in writing. It was stated no questions had been received.
• The council also spoke with a landowner on Park View Drive who recently built a house and did landscaping to improve water drainage.
The city engineer, Scott Kolbinger of KLJ, looked at the finished work and was concerned a heavy rainfall would result in the water draining down the road, through the ditch and over the berm into their yard. He then recommended adding more fill to the last rock check.
• The council approved a proposed budget of $235,655, which was an increase of 9.7 percent. It was noted the initial proposal can not be increased, only decreased when the final budget is presented for approval.
The initial increases were said to be for IT (technology support) and parks and recreation improvements.
Lammers said the city stands to receive about $18,625 in COVID-19 relief funds, which was the same as last year. She noted those funds cannot be used on budgeted items, as stipulated by the federal government.