New fire truck funding discussed at Akeley Council

The Akeley City Council tabled a decision on contributing money to a new fire truck for the Eastern Hubbard County Fire District (EHCFD) until the January council meeting.

According to a draft of the EHCFD proposal, each entity was asked to contribute $20,000 toward a new fire truck.

“I don’t think $10,000 would be excessive if we can find it,” council member Dan Riggs said. “If other entities want to chip in $20,000, that’s up to them.”

“We’ve already set our budget for next year,” Mayor Brian Hitchcock said. “We don’t know what’s coming. I’m leery of what could happen. They talked about a possible national lockdown for four months on the news today. I think it’s a good idea to replace the truck. I’m just concerned about funding since we set our budget already. And we’ll be open less hours at the muni already. We don’t know if the park will be open next year. I’m afraid to count on a penny from anything besides what we’ve already planned.”

The council discussed how, under the new COVID-19 rules being implemented by the state, there will be no bar seating, stand up games, pool or darts permitted, which will impact income at the municipal liquor store.


Sewer backup issue

Resident Frank Lamb asked the city for help paying for sewer damage in July not covered by his homeowner’s insurance.

“I dug a basement in 2008, and six years later it flooded with sewer from the alley,” he said. “The League of Minnesota covered every cent of it saying the city was liable. I don’t go down to the basement as often as I used to, so this time, by the time I got down there, it was 14 inches deep and ruined a lot of things.”.

Lamb said his home insurance had a $10,000 limit. Cleaning from Service Master, carpet replacement and electrical appliance checks totaled $4,550. He said they lost almost $10,000 in personal property.

He said he contacted the League of Minnesota Cities again, but this time they said the city is not responsible for the damage because there was no negligence on the city’s part as the backup was most likely caused by a buildup of grease.

Lamb said this summer he told the city maintenance supervisor it had been six years since his residence had sewer backup, so he expected it might happen again but nothing was done, so in his opinion, the city was negligent.

Lamb also suggested the city clean out the sewer more often. An early warning device to alert the city when the manhole gets to a certain level was also discussed.

Hitchcock said regular maintenance of the sewer is being done on a rotating basis now, including cameras to cover city liability, which may be why the claim was denied.

Riggs said he will look into the insurance issue. Hitchcock said Lamb should fill in a complaint form about the issue with his sewer and request his line be cleaned more often.


In other business, the council:

  • Heard from Police Chief Jimmy Hansen that counterfeit money has been found in the area and that catalytic converters were stolen from a city vehicle and another vehicle in Akeley.

  • Discussed the alley behind Pleasant that residents in that area stated has really bad potholes and an area near Hwy. 64 and Pleasant that needs work. Hitchcock said residents should fill out a complaint form to get city action started.

  • Authorized proceeding for “No Jake Brakes” signs on Hwy. 64 to cut down on noise. A permit from the Minnesota Department of Transportation is required since it is a state highway.

  • Approved purchasing a new laptop for the city for up to $1,000 to be reimbursed through CARES Act funds to have available if city staff need to work from home.

  • Authorized City Clerk Kristi Kath to prepare a revised policy that includes paid holidays when the office is closed on Veteran’s Day, Martin Luther King and President’s Day. Previously office staff had to use vacation or take those days unpaid.

  • Certified election results. Hitchcock will return as mayor with 137 votes and Bobbie Wosika to her council seat. Nathan George will continue filling an open seat on the council for two years.

  • Designated city hall as the polling location for 2021.

  • Heard the women’s bathroom at city hall needs work done by a licensed plumber.

  • Approved sponsoring Akeley Paul Bunyan Trail Riders for grant purposes.

  • Approved a bill from Moore Engineering for $5,430 for administrative costs for the Akeley Community Projects fund related to an environmental study and grant writing. The next Akeley Community Projects committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 23. Their focus is finding additional funding.“We need to come up with approximately $50,000,” committee chair Chuck Andress said. The council accepted a $50 donation from a resident for the fund.

  • Heard a request from a resident for a dog park in the field by the school. Since that land is owned by the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley district they need to contact them.

  • Scheduled a budget meeting for 6 p.m. Dec. 3 at city hall prior to final levy certification.

The next regular city council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 9 at city hall.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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