Weather Forecast


TH council votes to raise natural gas rates

City gas utility customers to see increase

Monday evening, the Two Harbors City Council voted to increase rates for natural gas. The utilities commission made the recommendation after the City’s gas utility failed to turn a profit for a second year in a row. The increase will take effect on April 1 and revenues are expected to allow the city to reach the break-even point within a year, said Councilor Roger Simonson.

0 Talk about it

City administrator Lee Klein illustrated the increase to residential customers this way: Last month was the seventh coldest December on record, he said. Under the new rates, the city’s average residential gas customer would have seen an increase in his or her bill of about $18.

“We could not keep losing money,” said Simonson. Commercial and industrial gas customers can expect to see higher bills, too.

Sept. 1 deadline set for installing new water meters

Gas was not the only utility discussed. Simonson also expressed concern that not all property owners have installed their new water meters. He made a motion that the council set Sept.1 deadline by which time residents must have their new meters in place. The motion carried, with all councilors in favor.

Hangar hang up addressed

SEH engineer, Benita Crow addressed the council with an overview of the fixed base operation hangar project the City had planned to build at the Richard B. Helgeson Airport. The hangar would have housed an airplane maintenance and repair business that could have meant a few more jobs for the area, but plans for the facility were put on hold last year when bids for the project came in higher than expected. Crow recommended that the City re-bid the project now.

“The feeling is that the cost came in so high because local contractors didn’t bid. Maybe they were already busy,” she said. “New bids now could get to contractors earlier before they get busy.”

Crow also said that she thought the odds of getting grant funding from the State of Minnesota for the project were very good. 

Later, councilor Seth McDonald made a motion authorizing SEH to accept bids for the project. The motion carried unanimously.

Water treatment plant update costs ‘could be staggering’

The water treatment plant upgrade project is moving into the design phase said Mark Wallis, engineer and project manager for MSA Professional Services. It is not yet known how the city will pay for the project and since a final cost for the upgrades has not been determined, grant funding has not been sought. The last estimate on the price tag was $5 million.

“There are no hard and fast numbers but the numbers are frightening in my opinion,” said Simonson, “It’s going to be a concern to everyone who consumes water.” He suggested that a close estimate be determined and made a motion to present the project and its estimated cost to legislators on the bonding committee for consideration. Without outside funding, Simonson warned: “These costs could be staggering. “The motion carried unanimously.

What’s in a name?

There was some discussion among council members about whether the name of the 5 p.m. finance meeting should be changed to “agenda meeting.” Councilor Roger Simonson made a motion to that effect. Councilors in favor of the change said that the meeting was not strictly a discussion of financial issues and that for the sake of clarity, the name should be changed to reflect the meeting’s purpose. The motion passed with Mayor Randy Bolen casting the only dissenting vote.

Items purchased by tax payers this week:

• A resolution was adopted to accept a proposal from Uniforms Unlimited for the purchase of three Tasers for the Two Harbors Police Department. The Tasers cost 2,672.70, which is $100.30 below the budgeted amount.

• The city’s Public Works Department is getting a new plow. The council voted to accept a proposal for the item at a cost of $7,071. The budgeted amount was $7,500.

• A resolution was passed to approve a proposal from Hach Corporation to provide mantainence services at the city’s water plant. The contract amount is $1,982.

• After months of effort to determine the ownership of utility poles in the city, the council approved a proposal made by the Utilities Commission to hire Power System Engineering to develop a pole inventory data base. The cost of creating the database is $6,200.

• The council voted to hire the Hanft Fride law firm to provide legal representation for the City of Two Harbors as it resolves a worker’s compensation claim. The city’s attorney, Steve Overom said that he had contacted the League of Minnesota Cities to determine whether it could be of help in the matter. Councilor Cathy Erickson suggested that the council approve the resolution contingent upon LMC’s refusal or inability to provide assistance.

• The council adopted a resolution to accept a proposal from Bobcat of Duluth for the purchase of a Tool Cat. The machine will be used to maintain trails. The budgeted amount for the item was $52,100. The city will purchase the Tool Cat for $49,550.

• Mayor Bolen has been working with a team of local volunteers to plan this year’s Winter Frolic. He publically thanked everyone who has dedicated time to the event. He made a motion to approve the transfer of $2000 from the liquor store fund to the Winter Frolic fund to cover unforeseen costs. Councilor McDonald said that he would support the motion, but hoped that efforts would be made to raise funds for next year’s Winter Frolic so the event could be self – supporting. The motion carried.

Mayor Bolen made a motion to declare Human Trafficking Awareness Month in the City of Two Harbors. He read a declaration written and signed by other local officials and pledged the city’s support of efforts to prevent and stop trafficking activity in Lake County. The motion passed with full council support.

Finally, the City of Two Harbors designated the Lake County News-Chronicle as its official newspaper. The News-Chronicle has been reporting the news and telling the stories of Lake County residents for over a century and is pleased to continue to do so.