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Kelliher Council discusses blighted property issue

The Kelliher City Council met or its regular meeting Nov. 15 to discuss the vandalism at Pfund Park, the water tower inspection and an issue regarding blighted property in the city.

Before tackling the agenda, the council voted to approve the following consent agenda items as presented:

• City Council Meeting Minutes, Oct. 18

• Receipts Totaling $155,866.95

• Claims Paid Prior Totaling $74,449.80

• Employee Overtime Report

• Delinquent Water/Sewer Accounts

• Cash Control Statement

• Bank Reconciliation Report

The liquor store September Income Statement was reviewed. It was noted that there were three payrolls in the month of October and an additional $,1800 electrical repair, making the monthly totals in the red.

The council was given a "scope of work" proposal from KLM Engineering for the inspection of the water tower, which had been completed Nov. 7.

City Maintenance Supervisor Chuck Schultz informed the council of some of their findings, there is a vent missing from the roof and some access issues and they estimate the tower will last for 6-8 years. No emanate failures were reported. Schultz said he would like to get a vent on the top before winter sets in.

The council then voted unanimously to pay the quoted price for the inspection.

There was some damage at the Pfund Park and that was brought before the council.

The suspect had been caught and Schultz asked how the council would like to handle the repairs. He asked them if they would prefer a straight dollar amount or have the perpetrator do the work.

The council explained to Schultz that they felt it would be better for himto do the work and just fine the suspect since it is so late in the year the work wouldn't be done until next spring.

City Clerk Shelli Krueth presented the council with claims to be paid totaling $45,633.11 which the council approved unanimously.

Three resolutions were then brought to the council table for approval.

Resolution 2011-8 authorizing the City to accept a Grant in the amount of $2,650 from Region 2 Arts Council for the North Beltrami Heritage Center for a Sculpture Garden was presented as was Resolution 2011-9 authorizing the City to accept Grants in the amount of $1,500.00 from Upper Red Lake Area Association, $1,000 for the North Beltrami Community Center operational expenses and $500 for the Cub/Boy Scouts and Resolution 2011-10 authorizing the City to accept a Grant in the amount of $5,230 from Beltrami County ConCon Fund for Kelliher Thrift and Gift were both approved.

All resolutoins were passed unanimously.

The council was then presented a Housing Incentive Grant application for the property on Gould Ave. After a lengthy discussion, the request was tabled until there is a full council. The issue being, they have already closed on the property.

Mayor Darin Latterell proposed for the transfer of $20,000 from the Liquor Store Fund to the General Fund as budgeted. Following a short discussion, the proposal was approved.

A citizen has inquired if the city can do anything about cleaning up the property along Hwy 72. That property is 119 NE Third St. and the lot is unbuildable according to city code if it were to be torn down.

Krueth had contacted the property owner listed by the county and found out there is four owners to the property, one is a juvenile. That one owner has no intentions of doing anything with the property and is going to let it go back to the county for taxes, he would be willing to give to city.

Krueth contacted Beltrami County Treasurer Kay Mack and was told that the property taxes haven't been paid since 2007. The county will start the tax forfeiture process in 2013 and it will take about a year to complete.

The house on the property is considered to be condemnable as there are several broken windows and wood rot visible along the roofline from the street.

The question put to the council -- Does the city want to wait for the property to be forfeited by the county?

That property also has big Willow trees that the roots are growing into the sewer main. If nothing is done and the property goes to the county, it is not certain the county would offer it to the city.

Since the property is unbuildable, if the city were to acquire it and tear down the building, it would be a good place for the North Beltrami Heritage Center's Sculpture Garden or a community garden. Council discussed their options in the matter.

City Ordinance 52.07-52.10 lists the procedures that need to followed and then the costs incurred to abate the problem may be assessed to the property owner, just to clean up the exterior of the premises. The city has sent letters requesting the property be cleaned up.

Since the property taxes are not being paid, those expenses would not be recouped. The city cannot receive grant funds for demolition if they do not own the property. It might be better cheaper for the city to gain ownership of the property and then apply for grants for the demolition costs.

The owner of 147 East Main had previously inquired if the city could get grant funds to tear down the building and is willing to give the property to the city so it can be demolished.

The council advised Krueth to further investigate the possibility of ownership of the 119 NE Third St. property. She presented the council with a couple of grant opportunities she had found in related to demolition, however ownership is the first obstacle.

Discussion on the other properties in the city that also are in violation of the city codes ensued. The council asked if this can be a goal for the next year -- getting the various properties cleaned up.

Krueth presented the council with an updated budget before they passed it unanimously and then adjourned for the evening.