Park Rapids City Council denies utility bill request

In other business, the council hears further comment on a proposed Birch St. bar and makes fund transfers in preparation for an annual audit.

Park Rapids City Hall
Park Rapids Enterprise file photo
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The Park Rapids City Council on May 10 denied a resident’s request to reduce a utility bill.

The request was pulled from the council’s consent agenda, where it was slated for approval.

According to a staff memo in the agenda packet, landowner Lynette Guida requested the reduction in the water-sewer bill at 107 Grove Ave. N. for her tenant, Kendra Wattenhofer, “due to circumstances.”

Specifically, Public Works Superintendent Scott Burlingame said, the big bill resulted from a leaky toilet. The property’s bill history showed a fourth-quarter bill for water-sewer consumption totaling $615, a difference of $542 from the property’s typical quarterly consumption of $73.

According to Mayor Ryan Leckner, the finance committee had recommended granting the request, splitting the $542 three ways between Guida, Wattenhofer and the city. However, Burlingame advised the council that the city typically gives a credit for water that does not flow into the sewer. However, in the case of the leaky toilet, it did flow into the sewer.


“The ordinance does state that we do not waive the charges,” said City Administrator Angel Weasner.

“We’d be opening a big can of worms if we did do it,” said Mayor Ryan Leckner.

Based on the staff recommendation, council member Tom Conway made a motion to deny the request, and the motion passed unanimously, absent council member Erika Randall.

Birch St. bar comment

Bill Fitch, a resident of Birch Street, commented about the conditional use permit (CUP) requested by Gregory Parsons to operate the One More Club bar at 1012 Birch St. S.

Fitch said he understood from meeting minutes that members of the planning commission had trouble accessing the property to look around. He suggested that if a petitioner won’t let city personnel inspect the property, the city shouldn’t entertain their petition.

Fitch also questioned how Parsons will keep the required number of parking spaces open during the winter. He said actual snow removal should be required, “otherwise they’re gonna have to push it onto their neighbors’ property.”

Further, Fitch questioned Parsons’ plan to deal with stormwater runoff and asked why the CUP was brought before the council before Parsons had met the required conditions.

“Just because we have done something in one part of town does not mean we need to make the same mistake in another part of town,” Fitch said.


Acknowledging that it’s a difficult decision and the city doesn’t want to become known for failing to support business, he concluded, “You get one chance to get this right.”

Fund transfers

In a late addition to their agenda, the council approved journal entries to transfer money between various funds, in preparation for the city’s upcoming annual audit. The journal entries included:

  • Setting budget dollars aside for fire department and police equipment and the Depot Park tennis court reconstruction project; 
  • Taking street cleaning costs out of stormwater revenue;
  • Adjusting liquor store inventory to actual; and 
  • Allocating staff salaries from the enterprise funds based on how much time they spent on water, sewer, stormwater and liquor store related work.

In consent items and general business, the council:

  • Renewed the city’s contract with City Planner Ben Oleson, AICP of Hometown Planning for another six months. 
  • Approved a Land and Water Conservation (LAWCON) grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to fund reconstruction of the Depot Park tennis courts. The city was awarded a $250,000 LAWCON grant and has committed $60,000 to the project, in addition to donations collected by the Park Rapids Tennis Association.
  • Paid the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force $3,500 for its annual membership fee.
  • Paid Tyler Technologies $5,720 for services related to setting up the city’s new financial system.
  • Paid Thelen’s Excavating $2,233 for emergency repair of a broken four-inch cast iron water main on Washington Street, using materials supplied by the city.
  • Paid Streicher’s $4,851 for police uniform vests. The staff notes that one of the vests is being replaced through an insurance claim and the trauma plates in two of the vests are being submitted for grant funding.
  • Granted Deanna Harvala a public use permit to hold a wedding ceremony June 25 at Red Bridge Park.
  • Acknowledged donations to the city totaling $3,101, all for library programs.
  • Approved payables totaling $42,677 and prepaids totaling $140,128.

The city council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 24 at city hall, following a council workshop at 5:30 p.m.

Department heads gave a report on the past year or two at a city council workshop on Jan. 24.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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