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City council taking closer look at septic system policy

The Park Rapids City Council at its June 28 meeting requested that City Planner Ryan Mathisrud review the septic system program and determine how to proceed with enforcing compliance should the project involving Discovery Circle be abandoned.

Mathisrud presented his findings to the council at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The city had opted to administer its own septic system inspection compliance program to maintain control over the timing of inspections and upgrades as well as the ability to coordinate the CIP with Subsurface Sewage Treatment Systems (SSTS) upgrades.

In 2010, the city passed a resolution opting to waive upgrade requirements in Discovery Circle due to a project planned in 2012.

The city had not had a SSTS ordinance in place until July of 2015, typically the city only manages sewer and water but has not actively managed septic systems in the community; the number of city sewer and water extensions to private systems is declining.

According to Mathisrud, under the city’s current ordinance in order to follow through with enforcement activities, a compliance inspection must be documented and a compliance certificate must be provided by the property owner.

If after an inspection the septic system is identified as non-compliant the city will inform the property owner that they have 10 to 12 months to upgrade their system, after which another letter is sent to the property owner. If there is no response the police department may issue a citation. If citations do not achieve compliance then the case is passed to the city attorney to obtain a judgment.

The city authorizes upgrade of the system, provides notice to the property owner and a new system is installed; all recoverable costs are assessed to the property owner.

Mathisrud also presented the council with three possible courses of action for proposed water and sewer services to the Discovery Circle neighborhood. These options presented are to authorize sewer and water extension for Discovery Circle; postpone the project indefinitely; or the council make a motion of its choosing.

After much discussion Tuesday on the information presented to the council no action was taken.

In other business the Park Rapids City Council:

- Approved the amendment of the ordinance increasing the mayor’s compensation from $350 monthly to $400 monthly and the council member’s compensation from $300 monthly to $350 monthly.

-Approved repairs to the air conditioning compressor in the basement of the Park Rapids Public Library in the amount of $4,850 by Leading Edge Mechanical.

-Approved a Transient Merchant License for Tyler Ehrmantraut d.b.a. BBQ Smokehouse for July 14 through July 17 to sell food at the Hubbard County Fairgrounds.

-Approved a proposal from Lee Davis Electric in the amount of $2,775 to install automatic locks for the Depot Park bathrooms.

-Approved a proposal from Howard’s Driveway in the amount of $62,390 for a bituminous overlay for East River Drive by utilizing funds in the amount of $59, 789 from the State of Minnesota.

In 2015 the City received funds to be used for streets. The difference of $2,601 will come from budgeted funds already prioritized for street patching.

-Approved installation of city sewer at 16266 Discovery Circle by Girtz Excavating in the amount of $2,175 at the City’s expense based on a previously executed "memorandum of offer to landowners" regarding a 2006 utility project.

-Authorized the execution of a natural gas installation agreement with Minnesota Energy Resources to provide gas services to several lots on the Municipal Airport property.

-Approved a resolution authorizing proper city officials to execute the land lease agreement by and between Towerco LLC and the City of Park Rapids.

-Approved a Multi-Vendor Transient Merchant License for Park Rapids Downtown Business Association for July 28 to sell food and crafts during Crazy Days.

-Approved a Public Facilities Use Permit for Park Rapids Downtown Business Association for Crazy Days on July 28.

-Approved the updated job description for Police Chief as well as approved staff to advertise, accept and review applicants for the Chief of Police position.

-Approved a proposal from Howard’s Driveway in the amount of $26,000 for work to be done on various streets and alleys throughout the city.

-Approved a resolution authorizing proper city officials to execute a contract for criminal legal services by and between County Attorney Don Dearstyne and the City of Park Rapids for the years 2017 and 2018 at a yearly fee of $61,411 and $67,552.

At the committee meeting it was recognized that the yearly fee has increased from previous years, Dearstyne explained there are more cases, more appeals and more litigations with changes in the laws.