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Housing repair loans available for Akeley residents

By Jean Ruzicka

Akeley residential property owners in need of repairs to their home may now apply for zero interest loans of up to $25,000, with the principal forgiven over a 10-year period.

Jackie Meixner of the Headwaters Regional Development Commission arrived at the Akeley Council meeting this week to present the details of the loan program.

The city now has $300,000 for owner occupied rehabilitation projects, with a goal of 15 units to be upgraded.

Thirty-two people completed the pre-applications; three have applied to date. “We’re 12 shy,” Meixner said, noting the “slow pace is normal.”

Those who did not pre-apply will not be excluded, she said. “Everyone may apply.”

The funds can be used for roofs, windows, “faulty” kitchens (not cosmetic upgrades), siding, electrical, plumbing or furnaces.

Homeowners, Meixner said, may choose which contractors they want to bid on the project.

The city has up to December 2016 to fully utilize the grant or the funds go back to the state and “jeopardizes the city’s competitiveness for future funds,” Meixner said.

Prior participation in a loan program does not preclude acceptance, she said.

If more than the $25,000 is needed for upgrades to a residence, HRDC will look into the homeowner’s eligibility for other funding sources.

Income eligibility guidelines and applications are available at the Akeley City Hall. Meixner is hoping to see all the applications by June 1. She will assist with paperwork, as necessary.

In other action, the council:

n Discussed, but took no action, on “city employees going on fire calls,” ostensibly clerk-treasurer Sebrina Hegg.

Emery raised the question, noting there should be someone in the office if she responds and if permission for this should be requested.

Karl questioned if she was being paid by the city during the time spent on calls.

Hegg responded she “clocks out” when on a fire call.

Hitchcock said people are questioning why she was working after hours, and suggested a policy be written.

“I don’t think you should go on fire calls and make up the hours,” Karl said, voicing opposition to “shutting the office to go on calls.”

After the meeting, Hegg, who’s a member of the fire department and First Response, said she’s often the only person in town representing the departments during the week.

She questioned if she should remain on duty in city hall even if someone at the Headwaters Restaurant (for example) was in need of immediate medical assistance.

n Approved an expenditure of $59,877 to fund drafting of plans and specifications for upgrades and replacements for the city’s water system.

This is necessary in order for the project to be placed on the Minnesota Department of Health’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund Project Priority List for 2015.

The modifications to the existing water supply, treatment and storage system would include rehabilitation of wells two and four, water treatment plant renovations and water tower rehabilitation.

n Named department commissioners.

Bobbie Emery will serve on the fire board with Brian Hitchcock the alternate. Both will serve as public events commissioners.

Public works commissioners are Billy Krotzer and Dan Riggs.

Emery will serve as fire commissioner, Hitchcock police. Hitchcock will oversee personnel, finance and administration and serve as economic development commissioner.

Liquor commissioners are Emery and Riggs (at his request).

Trygve Karl will serve as acting mayor, parks and recreation commissioner and public streets commissioner with Riggs.

Billy Krotzer is ordinance commissioner.

n Tabled, pending receipt of a written document, approval of an agreement on the contingency that the Eastern Hubbard County Fire District dissolves, the Akeley First Response would be given possession of AFR equipment and funds so they could continue to operate.

n Approved a $2,500 increase in compensation for EHCFD officers, including the chief, first and second assistants and secretary. The second assistant (who will receive $1,000) has not been paid in the past.

Hitchcock asked for a list of the fourth quarter fire calls.

n Reported liquor store earnings of $17,936 for the year.

n Approved Mathias Justin as the city auditor at a cost of $11,500.

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