Published on Thu, Oct 13, 2005
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City Briefs

Blaine city council decided not to pass a resolution taking a position on the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps patrols at local borders, though two council members wanted to officially condemn the action.
“I think it’s just an unnecessary function in our area yet the potential for a negative appearance and possible actions is not worth it,” said Bonnie Onyon at the October 10 council meeting. Ken Ely agreed he would like to see the city take an official stance but other council members thought the move would only give the group legitimacy. “My preference is not to take any action as it gives them to much credence,” said Bob Brunkow. Mike Myers and mayor John Liebert, however, expressed support for the Minuteman effort. “They perform a function law enforcement encourages, which is reporting,” Myers said.

City council members got their first look at more increases for the electric utility. Council members approved a 2.5 percent rate increase September 29 and are now looking at a hike in connection fees.
The council is considering increasing the connection fee for a residence from $525 to $650, but also increasing the amount of footage that covers from 100 to 150 feet. Increases are also being looked at for commercial and multi-family connections. Council is expected to vote on the increases at their October 24 meeting.

Mike Dahl has been confirmed as the newest member of the Blaine Tourism Advisory Committee. Council members voted unanimously to approve the staff recommendation to fill the post vacated by Donna-Lee Elke.

The city of Blaine has agreed to spend just under $300,000 to relocated utilities when the state rebuilds the truck route, but public works director Steve Banham said there’s still some hope the city can get out of it.
“We’ve been trying hard to see if we could avoid this,” Banham told city council. Banham explained that franchise utilities under agreement with, for example, the city of Blaine, are required to pay if their infrastructure needs to be moved to make way for city construction and that the state argued that was the case here, when city utilities use the right-of-way of the state highway. “We argued there was some question a franchise agreement had been entered into,” Banham said. “It looks unlikely” that the state will accept that argument he added, based on the opinion of the state attorney general’s office.
Other utility improvements will be made by the state at no cost to the city, Banham added, bringing to $1 million the total of utility upgrades that can accommodate more capacity and replace aging infrastructure. “The amount we do pay will leverage a lot of improvements for our community,” Banham said.

In her financial report to city council, city finance manager Meredith Riley reported another stellar quarter for real estate sales in Blaine. “Real estate excise tax is doing really, really well,” Riley said. So far this year the city has collected almost 50 percent more in taxes from property sales than it did in 2004. Riley reported that sales tax is also showing healthy increase, up 23 percent from last year.
Riley reported that expenditures in the city’s general fund were under budget and expected to finish the year that way. City manager Gary Tomsic said they would be encouraging department heads to not make purchases just to gobble up all the money budgeted. “Typically we’ve frozen budgets at the end of the year,” he said.