Council swears in new members, reimburses CN
About 50 people packed into the Two Harbors City Council Chambers Monday to support and witness the swearing in of a new mayor and Ward 4 councilor.
Newly election Ward 4 Councilor Craig Jussila was sworn in first. Jussila defeated incumbent Mike Borud during the November general election. Another person who defeated an incumbent was Chris Swanson. Swanson was sworn in with his family by his side as the new mayor of Two Harbors after he defeated former mayor Randy Bolen.
"To say that we are excited is an understatement," Swanson said. "We are very excited and we're really pumped about Two Harbors becoming a well-run, well-kept community."
Swanson thanked everyone who attended the meeting and voted for him.
"I have a vision for our community, that the rest of the state is going to look at Two Harbors and say, 'Wow, what are they doing there because it's amazing,'" he said. "When our friends and family come to visit us here, they are going to be jealous of what we have going on. I'm looking forward to Two harbors being the vibrant community I know it can be, where businesses are starting and flourishing."
CN reimbursed $31,000
The City Council voted to reimburse Canadian National Railway $31,000 for sewer charges incurred from a water leak of an estimated 7,206,000 gallons. City Attorney Steve Overom said the resolution is a findings of facts put together that show this was a very unique and over the top event.
"So the standard that you would be establishing by this resolution would be that you are maintaining your existing policy, but that you will entertain reimbursement for sewer charges if there is an extraordinary, unusual, over the top type of water leak," Overom said.
Councilor Frank McQuade asked the attorney where the line is drawn as something being extraordinary. Overom said that it would be up to the council to decide on a case by case basis.
Swanson said this reimbursement did cause him to pause on whether he would vote for it or not.
"The reason it caused me to pause is simply, when I look at something like this, what happens if this happens to somebody in the community?" he asked. "I don't look at the size of the organization, big or small, but I look at the fact that this is an entity within our community that should be leading the way.
"When I go to this entity's website I see statements like 'we're all in on environmental issues' and so on. My concern relies around the fact that it took them quite a long time for them to fix this problem. It's my understanding that it was almost three months."
The total amount charged to CN for the large water leak was $32,000, but the city is using the difference of $1,000 as a penalty for allowing the leak to continue for nearly three months. Swanson said he did appreciate this penalty because he believes other community members in the future maybe coming to the council with this same issue.
Last November the City Council approved new sewer rates that would be based on the consumption of water by the customer. This link between the sewer and water rates were not received well by some community members as well as some councilors. The concern was that customers watering their plants and lawns in the summer would be charged a sewer fee for water that wasn't actually going into the city's sewer system for treatment. One of the reasonings for approving the reimbursement to CN was that the leaked water did not pass through the city's sewer system, yet wasn't a routine water leak or lawn watering or similar types of water uses that do not pass through the city's sewer system.
Rules of Order
The council voted down adopting the newly created Minnesota Mayors Association Rules of Order for City Councils by a vote 6-1, with Swanson as the lone yes vote. By voting down the resolution, the council will continue to follow Robert's Rules of Order. According to City Administrator Dan Walker, the new rules were the League of Minnesota Cities attempt to make a more simplistic rules of order for councils to follow.
One of the new rules that gave some of the councilors pause to adopt them was that a motion could come forward without a second. Even though the rules were voted down, the council could reconsider them at a later time if they so choose to.