Six agenda items were approved by the Fergus Falls Committee of the Whole Wednesday in a quick half-hour meeting at City Hall.

A request by Luke Draxten of the Fergus Falls Fire Department Relief Association led off the meeting. Draxten told the committee the FFFDRA Board of Trustees had examined the self-supporting special fund and given approval to a $200 increase in service benefits for retiring paid on-call firefighters per year of active service from $4,950 to $5,150 effective March 2. 

The increase is not expected to have an impact on the city budget.

An update by Otter Tail County public information and education officer Cedar Walters on recycling prompted a short discussion by committee members on the possibility of increasing the number of recycling pickups and decreasing the number garbage pickups.

City finance director Bill Sonmor presented the committee with a new tiered fee structure for recycling pickup.

“The residential rate we’re not looking at changing,” Sonmor said. “This is for multifamily dwellings.” 

Sonmor said the new rates for 2-4 units would be $7.58 per month, 5-9 units would run $15.16, 10-20 units would be charged $30.32 and units of 21 or more would pay $45.48.

Multiunit residences where residents are charged directly for utilities would not be impacted by the change.

Sonmor noted the annual impact would be a marginal increase in recycling revenue. The decrease in monthly fees, now charged to the city’s mobile home parks, would be offset by the increase in monthly charges to apartment buildings.

“I think this is a more fair approach and just for that reason I think this is something we should support,” council member Scott Kvamme said in offering the motion.

Public Works director Len Taylor took over the podium to recommend the committee approve the 2020 lifeguard agreement with the Fergus Falls YMCA for services at Pebble Lake Beach. Taylor pointed out that no increase was being sought in the 2019 agreement which called for $25,000 in three equal installments.

The YMCA has been providing lifeguard service at the lake since 2008. The beach is set to open June 13. It will be open from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day until approximately Aug. 22.

City engineer Brian Yavarow got approval on two public improvement projects after giving the council an update on State Highway 210 drainage issue.

The discovery of severe erosion near a spot on West Lincoln Avenue where 210 crosses Interstate 94 has prompted the Minnesota Department of Transportation to propose installing a 42-inch storm sewer pipe adjacent to an existing cattle pass tunnel under 210.

The committee was told MnDOT will be dealing with the drainage issue beginning in March.

Yavarow first outlined the need for the PI 9347 project, which involves lighting replacement on Runway 13-31, the field’s main runway, at the Fergus Falls Municipal Airport. The existing system is 18 years old and over the last few winters, Yavarow said the airport had experienced numerous lighting system failures.

The preliminary estimated cost of the project is $725,000. Yavarow told the committee the city will be requesting $652,000 in federal funds which is expected to cover 90% of the project. The remaining $72,500 will be split between the state and the city. The final cost will include $63,200 in design work by SEH.

Public Improvement projects 5331 and 5332 will involve milling, overlay and seal coating work on city streets identified as candidates for the work by city staff.

The mill and overlay work is budgeted at $244,800 while the seal coating will cost an additional $129,600. Both are increases of the 2019 levy amounts which came to $204,000 for mill and overlay and $108,000 for seal coating.

The committee concluded the meeting by approving a motion directing city attorney Rolf Nycklemoe to draft a new public nuisance ordinance.

The city council will meet March 2 at 5:30 p.m. On the following day, voting in the Presidential Nominating Primary Election will be held from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at four voting spots in Fergus Falls.

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