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Akeley to see moderate rise in utility bills

Akeley residents will see a slight increase in water and sewer rates, on the advice of the city's financial consultants.

The council approved an increase of 3.5 percent for the water and 2.5 percent for sewer.

Todd Hagen of the financial advisory firm of Ehlers told the council in a January work session the current rates meet operating expenses; the increase will provide future capital for improvements.

Ehlers' report recommends a 3.5 percent water rate increase in 2012 followed by 3.5 percent increases through 2021, 2 percent increases for 2022 and beyond.

An average residential property consumes 5,000 gallons per month. The property owner will see an increase of $1.03 in their water bill, the report states.

Assuming an average commercial property uses 10,000 gallon per month, this type of property would see a $1.93 increase in the monthly bill from 2011 to 2012.

The change in monthly sewer bills for a residential user would be 64 cents, 2011 to '12.

Total utility bill for the base charge consumption in 2011 per month was $55; that would rise to $56.67 in 2012, $63.89 in 2016 if the council continues to raise rates, as recommended.

In other action, the council:

n Appointed Trygve Karl to fill the council seat vacated by Heather Moore, who moved out of town.

Kevin Gentry and former mayor Scott Vettleson had expressed interest in filling the seat.

Karl, who was unable to attend the meeting, will fill the position until the November election.

n Agreed to re-advertise for bids for the cropland contract at the municipal wastewater treatment site.

The advertisement stated 35 acres was tillable, bidder Bill Drury contends 55 acres are suitable for crops.

n Reported liquor store earnings of negative $928 in January, raising concerns and questions from 11th Crow Wing resident Richard Elander.

He questioned rents on the liquor store's profit and loss statement, which he learned were realized from the fire department's sale of pulltabs. "Awesome, at least there's money coming in from something," he remarked sardonically.

He also asked about the need for janitorial service.

"The cost of liquor seems astronomical for the liquor store," he said. "The liquor store should be making three times the amount." He questioned the amount being spent, given the lack of tourism with no snow.

"The liquor store made money this year," mayor Jen Mitchell said of the $22,784 net reported through December.

Donald Sabinske echoed the concerns regarding rising property taxes. He said the county referred him to the city, who referred him back to the county. He indicated lakeshore property owners are paying a disproportionate amount of taxes.

Mitchell suggested they bring concerns to annual meetings on property taxes. "We are not doing anything frivolous. We're plowing and sanding, not throwing money out the door. We've cut, and we've gotten grants for (projects)," she said of the $245,000 received for upgrades to the water system this past summer.