Blair Reuther was sworn Tuesday, Oct. 12 as a member of the Nevis City Council.

Reuther was temporarily appointed Sept. 13 to fill the seat vacated by Rich Johnson, who resigned July 12. There will be a special election on Feb. 8, 2022 to fill out the remainder of Johnson’s unexpired term.

Rental license

City Administrator Dawn Veit presented an application form for a two-year rental license, based on the city’s new rental ordinance. She reported that the city’s building inspector reviewed the inspection checklist and adjusted it in accordance with the state building code.

Regarding the $100 license fee, Veit explained that the city doesn’t make any money off this, but the fee reimburses what the inspector charges to inspect a single unit. She noted that the inspector also charges $55 per unit for 2-4 units, $45 each for five or more units, $15 per unit for reconstruction, $40 per unit for reinspection and $25 for no-shows.

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Veit said landlords will be notified in January when their inspections will take place in February.

She said there are penalties for failing to register or to pass inspections or take corrective action on time. These penalties include $150 for the first violation, with 30 days to bring the property up to code; $250 for the second violation; $500 for the third; followed by suspension, revocation or refusal to renew the license.

“You can change these fees how you see fit,” Veit said.

Council member Teresa Leshovsky said she felt the penalties should be higher and asked how many rental properties are in the city. Veit said she mailed out 54 copies of the rental ordinance.

Mayor Jeanne Thompson suggested leaving the fees as they are for the first time around. Council member Sue Gray agreed they can always raise the fees in the future if needed.

“The idea with this isn’t to be making a ton of money,” said Thompson. “It’s really just to make sure that the properties are staying well kept, because we want to maintain the community and make it a desirable place to live.”

Leshovsky made a motion to approve the form with the fees as they are, reserving the right to review the penalties if issues arise. The motion passed unanimously.

Sewer reimbursement

Veit reported that a Main Street homeowner contacted city officials about her sewer service backing up. When public works supervisor Don Umthun investigated it, he found that the home was never connected to the city’s sewer system, built in 1995.

“Her house got missed,” Veit said. “Don said that summer there were anywhere from six to 10 different contractors in the city, all doing this at one time. He would have never known.”

Veit said the homeowner requested a credit or reimbursement for the sewer fees she has paid during the five years she has lived there.

“The total amount is $2,402.98,” Veit said. “However, when you build a home in the city of Nevis, and you ever flush a toilet, you still have to pay the sewer debt retirement, which is half of your sewer bill.”

She said that applies equally to cabin owners who are only in town a few weeks per year.

Veit asked whether to reimburse all of the bill or just the sewer use portion, retaining the sewer debt retirement fees.

Thompson made a motion to credit the homeowner’s account for the use portion of her sewer bills, with the understanding that if she moves or sells her home before she uses up the credit, the city will reimburse her for the remaining amount. The motion passed unanimously.

New city attorneys

The council also hired the Minneapolis law firm of Kennedy & Graven as city attorneys at a rate of $180 per hour.

Gray said she has worked with the firm on township business and she found them excellent.

Thompson said she likes the fact that “they have a great understanding of smaller communities and the challenges we face.”

Gray made the motion to approve the hire, and the motion passed without dissent.

In consent items and general business, the council:

  • Heard municipal liquor store manager Erin Rhoades report that no bids were submitted for re-siding the muni. She was advised to look for separate bids for the purchase and installation, and to ask local chambers of commerce for a list of providers.

  • Heard Thompson announce that Chris Norton stepped down as fire chief, but agreed to stay on as an assistant chief with Josh Winter as another assistant and Mike Marchell as the new chief.

  • Received a written report from Deputy Josh Oswald about local law enforcement activity from Sept. 9 to Oct. 6, including one alarm call, one animal call, two arrests, two attempts to locate, one burglary, three citations, four civil processes, seven disturbance or disorderly conduct calls, seven medical calls, five “other,” one property damage call, one public assist, nine traffic stops and 12 business or facility checks.

  • Approved financial reports for September, showing general fund receipts totaling $22,138 and disbursements totaling $27,108, and fire department receipts totaling $2,355 and disbursements totaling $8,434.

The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8 at city hall.