Archived Story

Council looks at fee waivers [UPDATED]

Published 7:40am Monday, April 21, 2014 Updated 8:41am Monday, April 21, 2014

You might say a can of worms was opened in regard to the Fergus Falls City Council waiving fees.

“Where is this going to stop?” asked council member Scott Rachels, at Wednesday’s Public Works and Safety Committee meeting. “I’m not really in favor of waiving any fees.”

Wednesday, the Fergus Falls Fire Fighter Association requested fee waivers for three temporary signs ($50 per sign) for its upcoming pancake feed.

Committee members exchanged glances and referred back to their discussion from the April 7 city council meeting, where permit fees were waived for property owners needing excavation for frozen water services.

At least six locations in town needed excavation in the boulevard area to thaw frozen pipes after the extremely-chilly winter. Frozen water issues in the boulevard are the responsibility of property owners, according to city code. Whenever an excavation is involved, the city normally charges the contractor a $70 excavation permit fee.

Ben Schierer offered the resolution to waive the $70 fees. However, Jim Fish, Randy Synstelien and Jay Cichosz were concerned with setting a precedence when it comes to waiving fees, while Schierer and Stan Synstelien thought it was reasonable for the waiver because the cost would be a hardship for those not expecting it.

The vote was a 4-4 tie, with Anthony Hicks, Tim Rundquist, Schierer and Stan Sysnstelien voting in favor of the resolution, and Cichosz, Fish, Rachels and Randy Sysnstelien voting against it.

Needing to break the tie, Mayor Hal Leland voted yes.

No action was taken at Wednesday’s meeting regarding the request for pancake feed signs, as the committee wanted to discuss it with the whole council. Rachels also mentioned he received a call from someone at the airport asking for a fee waiver.

“We will get more and more requests to waive fees,” Cichosz said.

Discussion on waiving temporary sign fees is on Monday’s city council agenda.

Also on the docket Monday, the council will hear the public library 2013 annual report. Library Director Erin Smith will show a video with photos from the past year at the library and various statistics, like how the library had about 154,000 visits last year, and 14,100 participants at 502 events.

“The program attendance has really gone through the roof,” Smith said. “We’re up in every area. It’s obviously a good problem to have. Not every library is experiencing what we’re experiencing.”

The council will also vote to approve the Regional Treatment Center as the location for this year’s SummerFest, discuss outstanding loans for the Pebble Lake Golf Course and accept a conceptual plan for Noyes Park.

The city council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in council chambers at city hall.

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