The Mabel City Council discussed a wide array of issues from flood repairs and funding, demolition of vacant downtown buildings and the city sewer project at its meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

Council member Terry Torkelson presided in the absence of Mayor Brian Street.

Flood repairs/funding

"The good news on this is we got the money from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)," City Clerk Karen Larson told the council.

The city of Mabel received a check from FEMA in the amount of $18,656.79 on Dec. 31, which will be used to pay for repairs resulting from the flood of June 2013.

"When I added it up, (the total damage) it was about $80,421...and this (the check received) was just a portion. But basically, what we got reimbursed for today was for all the roll-offs that we had, was all of our electrical work that we had to do and some of the cleanup of debris," Larson added. "It's not all of it, but it was nice to see us get some money back and I am still working with insurance (on some aspects).

Larson added there is still more work to be done on damage and clean-up expenses regarding whether it would be covered by FEMA or the city's insurance. This includes the bleachers in the baseball field at Steam Engine Park.

Torkelson brought up the baseball field again toward the end of the meeting, asking for an update on repairs. Larson responded by saying they would be waiting to see when the snow melts as well as waiting to see how much insurance will pay.

One idea that has been mentioned between City Public Works Director Bob Mierau and Mabel-Canton teacher Paul Tollefsrud is the building of a canopy or shelter over the bleachers - but that also is waiting until the city finds out how much insurance will pay.

"Because right now when it rains, they all have to huddle around that building that's not there anymore," Larson added.

Building demolition

Larson told the council it should expect to have a special meeting toward the end of this month as resolutions need to be signed regarding the process of the demolition of the former Mabel Record, Booman Chiropractic, Cruisers and Sue's Coffee Shop buildings on Main Street.

The demolition of the vacant buildings will make room for the proposed Mabel Community Market grocery store. Larson added an inspector will be coming on Monday, Jan. 13, to inspect the buildings and then they also need to have asbestos contractors in to survey the structures.

There is a demolition loan and a redevelopment grant, which will help the process; but will require a resolution from the council before the grant deadline on Feb. 1.

"Our goal was to have it (the resolution) for tonight, but that guy couldn't come until Monday to do the inspection - and that inspection has to be done first," Larson said.

The plan currently is for the Mabel EDA (Economic Development Authority) to build and own the proposed grocery store property and then lease the facility to the grocery store coop group.

Cherrywood Drive improvements

Residents on Cherrywood Drive are a step closer to seeing their road get paved. Larson reported that a proposed easement description (which will allow the city access to the road) has been created and is nearly ready to be presented to the property owners who will be affected.

"It will be good to finally get it taken care of when the spring starts," said Torkelson.

2014 appointments

The council renewed the News-Record as the official city newspaper and Bank of the West the official city depository.

Tim Mengis was approved as the Mabel Fire Chief and Kelly Sand and Brian Erickson were approved as assistant fire chiefs. Tim Mengis was also approved as the city's civil deference director.

The council members were also assigned to serve on committees. Representing the council on the EDA are Street and Kirsten Wyffels. Wyffels and Laura St. Mary will serve on the street and light committee. Torkelson and Sue Amunrud were named to the sewer and water committee. Street and Amunrud will serve on the ambulance and fire committee. Wyffels and Torkelson will be serving on the park and recreation board. Street will be on the police committee and Karen Larson, as city clerk, will serve on the community center committee.

2013 audit

The 2013 audit is due from the city's auditing firm, Hacker, Nelson & Co., on Jan. 23. Larson told council members that it would be difficult to switch firms at this point; and if the council were considering a switch it would be best to wait until summer.

"I'll be honest, I have used them as a resource all year long; because I'll ask them a lot of questions with different things...they've done it so many years that they're very efficient with what they do for us," Larson said.

"With what we have going on this year I don't know if we want to upset that - maybe a year or two down the road," said Torkelson. "We would only be changing because we experiment (with others), they (Hacker, Nelson & Co) have done us no wrong."

The council voted unanimously to have Hacker, Nelson & Co go ahead with the yearly audit.

City sewer project

The council passed a resolution to reimburse the city sewer and water fund for money spent so far regarding the current water and sewer project. Larson explained the city has already spent funds on engineering fees for the project, and when the city receives the funding for the project - they will put the money back into the water and sewer fund.

The city has also published bids on the replacement of the city water tower. The bid opening date is set for Feb. 12, and will be discussed at next month's council meeting.

Public works report

Larson presented the public works department report in the absence of director Bob Mierau.

The city has received a grant from MDH (Minnesota Department of Health) for new fluoride testing equipment. The grant was approved on Dec. 27 and the equipment should be arriving soon.

Larson reported the new thermostats installed at the Mabel Community Center last fall have saved the city energy and utility expenses and have "paid for (itself) in one month," Larson said. The cost to install the thermostats was around $1,000.

City wells number three and four are having problems with communication and may need a microprocessor.

Larson reported Mierau has ordered special parking signs following the council's December meeting. The signs were requested by Mabel Floral and Gifts owner Leann Jevne to discourage non-customers from parking for extended periods of time outside her business.

A generator inspection needs to be scheduled by Interstate Power Systems. Cost will range from $550 and $750. Also on the generator, the council decided to stick with a load control program through Tri-County Electric that classifies the city's generator as a non-emergency generator. The program saves the city about $5,000 each year.

Larson announced that she plans to join the union insurance policy through the city. Larson said that a recent motion was made to allow non-bargaining union members (such as Larson) to join. She explained this too, will save the city money on her health insurance expenses.