The March 2, 2017, regular Alcester City Council meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. by Mayor Tom Glas, with council members Mark Dykstra, Julia Sundstrom, Audri Carlson, Lance Johnson, Dan Haeder and Alcester city attorney Charles Haugland present with Councilman David Larsen not present.
The meeting agenda was approved with the exclusion of item #8-Kevin Pies Sidewalk/Parking Lot by the council. The minutes of the February 6th, 2017, meeting were approved as published and presumably written.
Public Input was called. Vickie Larsen (me) responded on two issues.
#1 the Peter and Vickie Larsen letter to Alcester City concerning their water bill and the failure to mail the January 2017 and the February 2017 water bills to Peter and Vickie Larsen.
February 10, 2017, letter to the city:
February 16, 2017, response by city to the Larsens:
Note the argument:
“…the city does all it can to make the best use of its resources. One of the ways we save on postage expense is to hand deliver as many monthly bills and checks as possible. It is not our policy to mail our bills with a large credit balance…”
Note: Observe the cost saving measures applied to the February 16, 2017, official city finance office letter. Evidently it is too expensive to waste a Alcester City letter head on a tax paying city resident notifying them of FO official business and policy! The Alcester FO is in the habit of adding announcements to the water bill. So if I do not get a bill because the FO is too cheap to mail it, I will not have access to any important announcements the FO or the AFO may affix to the bill. In addition, paying the AFO (what does she make an hour?) to trot up and down main street Alcester hand-delivering water bills to save $.34 cents a card on my water bill when she already trudges 2.5 blocks to mail water bills to the whole town is utterly Incredulous!
“…We did have the January water bill prepared and available for Vickie Larsen when she attended the January City Council meeting. We noticed Vickie had left it on her chair in the conference room…”
Note: Folks, As I entered the council meeting room, I saw a square of white paper left on a chair next to where I sit for the meeting. There was no writing on the square of white paper to indicate what it was, to whom it was intended or that it was anything but scrap paper left over from a fund-raising ‘function’ Mayor Glas indulges the FO staff to run out of the city office. If it was indeed my water bill, the FO staff left my personal information in a public arena where anyone could pick it up and have access to all my personal information (address, account number, amount of water, my water rates, my account balance) printed out for them on the card. One has to wonder at the advisability of putting all that information on a postcard. H-m-m-m?
#2 Notification of consideration of the annexation of the properties along the west side of SD Hwy 11 from the south city limits to the Alcester Steakhouse.
Note: This notification did rate official letterhead but apparently a date cost extra. I own property along the line of proposed annexation.
I said No to annexation! Mayor Glas responded I was the only one to say, No. Upon which Alcester City Councilman Dan Haeder responded he had an annexation affected person voice their objection to annexation and Alcester City Attorney Charles Haugland reported he also had an annexation affected person object to city annexation. I commented on the ill-conceived, illogical and flat-out attempt of annexation by Mayor Tom Glas.
Note the ‘benefits’ touted by Mayor Glas and his crony nuisance hunter:
- Fire protection-hydrants would be installed along Hwy 11.
- Response: The distance from the Alcester Volunteer Fire Department and closest fire hydrant is approximately three blocks from the farthest point of the proposed annexation. Any new fire hydrants would have to be drilled under the rails of the railroad and drilled under the protected water way.
- Lower insurance premiums due to fire hydrants closer to your property.
- Response: Again, the Alcester Volunteer Fire Department and city water fire hydrant is approximately three blocks from the farthest point of the proposed annexation and well within requirements for lower fire protection fees.
- Eligibility to run/sit on city council.
- Response: Three of the entitles subject to annexation are businesses with no living premises on site, therefore are NOT eligible to hold any office in the city of Alcester.
- Can vote in city elections.
- Response: Two of the business owners live within the city limits and can already vote and hold office, unless they are black-listed by the FO.
- Free use of the city dump and dumpsters.
- Response: The city dump is restricted to green waste only and rubble. All properties within the proposed annexation have burn pits and can compost their garbage.
- Home Owners will abide by the Property Maintenance Code.
- Response: This one is a real charmer. Mayor Tom Glas and Alcester FO want to annex our property so we can play Captain, May I with them. The IPMC (the International Property Maintenance Code) which the city adopted apparently in its entirety-–(most cities have abandoned global adoption because it is too expensive for a small town to enforce) via its Paid Enforcement Officer can ticket us for weeds and grass over 6 inches, condemn our lawn ornaments as nuisances and fine us, they can condemn our trees if they cast a shadow lower than 14 feet from the street, they can ticket our siding if the color doesn’t match the city hall color scheme, they can ticket our window cause they have shades not curtains, they can fine our garbage can because it is not blue or tilts the wrong direction and so on and so on. Shoot, you even are privileged to pay for the code enforcement officer who lives in a neighboring town, they don’t ever hire local.
- Real estate tax dollars will be used to enhance amenities, roads and etc. throughout Alcester.
- Rebuttal: Our property taxes WILL go up, we will pay 6.5% sales tax instead of the 4.5% we pay now on everything we buy and have shipped in. Most entities on the annexation route already have rural water so the city does not have to drill water lines under the railroad tracks and under the protected waterway. The sewer, however, requires at least one lift station with a projected price tag of $435K plus costs of easements, etc. plus the city already has another lift station on-line for the North annexation. H-m-m, $435,000.00 + $435,000.00= O-o-o-h MY that is some bill! The city will be on the hook for new culverts on South Street, hard surface for South Street and curb and gutter for the north side of South Street which runs about two blocks. The city will be responsible for the care and periodic dredging of the protected waterway to protect against flooding. As for amenities? Alcester Steakhouse has a liquor license from Union County which is an asset of considerable worth because this liquor license can be moved. However if annexed, the liquor license currently held by Alcester Steakhouse would be forfeit but they would have a grand-fathered liquor license as long as the current owner remained owner. City liquor licenses are OWNED by the city, cannot be moved and the city is limited to three liquor licenses. If annexed in the Alcester Steakhouse would have to purchase their liquor through the city at a mark-up they do not have now. Definite profit killer. The businesses along the annexation route would be subject to the IPMC, so if we produced noise, bad smells and airborne particulate like FCS we could be cited and fined as a violation of the IPMC. A-n-n-d some of us would be forced to pay another shot of property tax to maintain the derelict, money pit and profit pirate the Alcester City owned bar. Why would other bar owner-operators willingly pay property taxes to keep the city owned bar off the tax rolls, make upgrades for the lessee, reduce the lease rate allowing the lessee run competition to them?
Mayor Glas, you and the FO sure failed to think this one out!
(to be continued)