Nevis City Council sets preliminary 2023 levy
The city's levy and budget may increase up to 2% on the year.
The Nevis City Council on Monday approved a preliminary budget and property tax levy for 2023, including $112,871 for the general fund, $56,435.50 each for streets and police, $30,783 for parks and $18,077 for fire protection – a total of $274,602.
Council member Sue Gray said this was a 2% increase over the city’s 2022 levy.
Final levies are certified in December and cannot be higher than the preliminary levy.
There was council discussion about possibly lowering the levy by transferring more money from the liquor store fund. However, Mayor Jeanne Thompson cautioned against letting the city’s budget-levy fall too far behind cost increases in the broader economy.
Council member Blair Reuther made a motion to approve the preliminary levy, which passed without dissent.
Rental ordinance reconsidered
The council tabled discussion of possible changes in the language of the city’s rental ordinance.
City Administrator Dawn Veit suggested either increasing the interval between required inspections from two years to five and/or requiring an inspection before a new rental license is issued.
Veit noted that the city’s nuisance ordinance covers issues related to property appearance and upkeep, and questioned whether the rental ordinance is necessary. Thompson replied that the rental ordinance addresses life and safety issues with such requirements as working smoke detectors, egress windows, hot running water and electricity.
Veit also corrected the record, recalling that a property owner claimed at a previous meeting that insurance inspections would take care of these requirements. “I called my insurance company,” she said. “They don’t do inspections; they don’t do any of that thing. So, that was misspoken.”
Reuther challenged this, saying there are companies that do inspections, but Veit said most companies do not require them.
Thompson, who works in real estate leasing, said landlords’ insurance companies may do inspections, but renters’ insurance does not. She also advised landlords to require tenants to carry liability coverage in addition to contents insurance.
Veit agreed to send council members a copy of the ordinance’s proposed revision for discussion at next month’s meeting, after it goes through legal review.
The council approved three of four variances requested by Chris and Karla Carson to rebuild their cabin at 114 Emily St.
According to the Carsons’ request, they want to tear down their 115-year-old cabin, which has become structurally unstable, and replace it with a new building. However, their 50-foot wide lot is non-conforming under the current city code, which requires a minimum lot width of 75 feet.
They also requested a variance from the current 20-foot street right-of-way setback, which would make it impossible to build on the lot, and from the maximum ground coverage allowed as a percentage of the size of their lot.
Finally, they requested a side yard setback variance from 10 feet to 2 feet on the east side of the property, where their current garage actually crosses the property line onto a neighboring lot owned by a family member.
The city’s planning commission recommended approving the first three requests but requiring the 10-foot side yard setback on both sides of the new home. Thompson made a motion to approve the planning commission’s recommendation, and it passed without dissent.
Fire equipment quotes
The council approved a $5,195 quote from Grand Forks Fire Equipment for an 18-inch, positive pressure ventilation fan powered by two 12-Ampere hour Milwaukee rechargeable batteries, including shipping.
Acting fire chief Josh Winter also presented a competitive quote for $5,355 from Heiman Fire Equipment. Winter said the fan would be used to clear a fire scene of smoke so firefighters can overhaul the scene, or to blow carbon monoxide out of a house.
Winter said the department would retain its current, gas-powered fan as a backup and put it on their second engine, while carrying the battery-powered one on its main engine. He described the battery-powered fan as half the weight of the gas-powered one, without the drawback of fuel gumming up the lines when it isn’t used often.
Winter also noted that a gas-powered fan can’t be used on a carbon monoxide call due to the exhaust from the motor.
The council also approved a $1,409 quote from Acme Tools of Bemidji for four Milwaukee battery tools – a 16-inch chainsaw, a 9-inch cut-off saw, a tower light and a six-pack battery charger – over a competitive quote of $1,855 from Cwikla Ace Hardware in Park Rapids.
Finally, the council authorized Veit to raise the city’s credit card limit temporarily from $3,000 to $5,000, to allow her to purchase the TruFuel and fuel storage cabinet previously approved for the fire department.