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Akeley approves pared 2010 tax levy

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news Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
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The Akeley Council approved a trimmed property tax levy of $203,357 this month, down $5,529 from last year's amount.

The council agreed $97,719 will be levied for streets and highways, $21,600 will be designated for fire protection and $4,700 for the pumper truck payment, $38,219 for police on a part-time basis, $15,869 for the general fund, $13,000 for special projects, $11,500 for capital improvements and $750 for the cemetery.

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The reductions came after several budget discussion meetings by the council.

In other action, the council:

-Approved a cooperative agreement between the cities of Park Rapids and Akeley and Hubbard County to seek funding via the Department of Employment and Economic Development for housing rehabilitation.

The agreement is necessary for the city's eligibility to apply for funds, explained Melody Boettcher of Hubbard County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

Boettcher said the pre-application proposes funding to rehabilitate 20 homes, countywide, a minimum of three in Akeley.

Three Akeley homeowners have currently applied, with more invited. She said the HRA will be leveraging other revenue sources to assist with costs.

"It seems Park Rapids is getting the bulk of the funds," council member Jon Johnson said of DEED funding that is being sought for renovations of Main street's commercial and rental buildings.

"I'd like to see Akeley receive assistance for its rental and commercial buildings," Johnson said. Park Rapids is serving as the fiscal agent for the project. Notification of the DEED funding status is expected later this winter.

-In light of recent cuts to the police department, denied a request for the city to continue as license sponsors of the four affected officers.

"This would allow them to actively seek employment elsewhere and still attend training and schooling as licensed officers," police chief Eric Klein told the council.

But mayor Jennifer Mitchell said the city's attorney and the League of Minnesota Cities have advised against sponsorship due to liability.

"It's very difficult for me," she said. "But this is why we pay attorneys."

Klein suggesting drafting a contract excluding the city from liability, but the council agreed "to go with the legal advice, and not sponsor police officers' licenses."

Klein indicated he's seeking grant funding "to keep the Akeley Police Department functioning as a full-time police department," including part-time officers.

He said he expects to hear on a grant in the near future.

-Learned the old skating rink, located to the west of the school, will be back in operation.

Horizons facilitator Vern Peterson reported he spoke with Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School superintendent Wally Schoeb who is willing to lease the property and "take care of insurance," which had been a preclusive concern.

Peterson reported Akeley Horizons has received a $10,000 grant to be administered by Northwest Minnesota Foundation to continue community betterment projects.

-Approved a DNR-recommended, HRA-endorsed plan to manage the stand of pines located between the Heartland Trail and 11th Crow Wing Lake.

Bruce Patton, Akeley HRA president, said a DNR forester's recommendation is to cut every third row, approximately 400 trees, and remove dead trees to curtail the spread of pine bark beetle.

The city will realize $2,000 to $3,000 from the timber sale.

The HRA will "handle the details."

-Learned liquor store earnings total $12,860 through November, the muni reporting a loss in net income of $2,018 in November.

The liquor store is interviewing for a part-time bartender.

Liquor store manager Bob Winner requested opening the liquor store at noon on Super Bowl Sunday.

-Learned Herb Young has been hired as a part-time water/sewer maintenance employee.

-Approved a resolution designating the Hubbard County attorney as the city's prosecuting attorney for petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor violations.

County attorney Don Dearstyne explained in a letter to the council that the state is going to a centralized pay system for processing citations. The courts require a resolution from cities if they are to continue receiving two-thirds of fine money.

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