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City avoids lawsuit with CP Railway

The city of Kenmare collected past due special assessment fees and avoided a potential lawsuit with Canadian-Pacific Railway, following action taken during Monday’s city council meeting.

8/14/13 (Wed)

By Caroline Downs

The city of Kenmare collected past due special assessment fees and avoided a potential lawsuit with Canadian-Pacific Railway, following action taken during Monday’s city council meeting.

Mayor Roger Ness reported CP Railway had not paid several years’ worth of special assessments originating from the 2005 pavement project in the city. The amount due from the missed assessments was $47,157.90, now totaling $68,812.00 with penalties and interest.

“They claim we did not notify them legally,” said Ness. “They are willing to pay the $47,157.90 if we take off the penalty and interest. Otherwise, we will end up in court.”

City accountant Jan Kostad explained CP Railway actually did make the first special assessment payment. “They’ve agreed to pay the balance that’s left, which is the $47,157.90, plus the two years left on the assessment,” he said.

Ness and Kostad said apparently the notices sent to CP Railway for the annual assessment payments were mislaid or mishandled in some way. “They didn’t know about [the missed assessment payments] until Ward County put the property in Kenmare up for sale and someone was looking at it,” Kostad said.

Council members approved a motion to accept the offer to settle the special assessments payment dispute on a 5-1 roll call vote.

Bids requested for downtown improvements
The council made progress on the downtown improvement plan after holding a public protest hearing about the special assessment district created at the July meeting.

No one appeared Monday evening to discuss the special assessment district. “There’s no opposition to this, so we’re moving forward,” said Ness.

Council members approved a resolution to authorize Ackerman-Estvold Engineering to initiate the bidding process on a project to replace the sidewalks, curb and gutter as proposed in one option presented by city engineer Ryan Ackerman, combined with installation of decorative lighting proposed in a second option.

Total cost for the project, which would bring the city into compliance with ADA codes for handicapped accessibility, is estimated at $800,000.

Bids will be reviewed at the September city council meeting, with prices requested for completion dates of November 2013 and July 2014.

Kelly residence annexed again
Residents Phil and Jani Kelly submitted another annexation request for their 7.14-acre property on the west side of Central Avenue on the north end of Kenmare after a misunderstanding negated the annexation approval granted by the city earlier.

The request at Monday’s meeting served as first reading in the process, but Phil Kelly asked for the council’s consideration to allow construction to begin immediately on city water and sewer lines coming from the east side of U.S. Highway 52.

“They will have to bore under the highway to get that done,” Kelly said, emphasizing the difficulty in coordinating the schedules of the three contractors involved in doing the work.

City engineer Ryan Ackerman recommended the annexation request be approved with permission to begin construction, but that the curb stop remain closed until the second reading and final approval of the annexation.

The council approved Kelly’s request on a unanimous roll call vote.

Red numbers in city financial report
Kostad said, “Things are going well right now,” as he started his financial report, but council members expressed disbelief and pointed to the four accounts that have overspent as of July 2013, including the fire department, municipal highway, city forestry and recreation.

Kostad said the fire department had purchased $10,000 of gear and was waiting to be reimbursed for half the costs by the Kenmare Rural Fire District.

Council member and Kenmare Fire Department secretary Chuck Leet explained new bunker gear was needed for several firefighters and the department made the decision to purchase the items. “The Rural Fire District will pay us back their share when they get their money from the state,” he said.

Kostad noted the municipal highway account would also be receiving state funds in the coming months, while the city forestry should be taking in payments from local residents for removal of trees with Dutch elm disease. “The city is in the process of billing those property owners,” he said. “If the bill isn’t paid, then it will be assessed to their property taxes.”

Council members approved the financial statement as presented.

New pumper
Christian Standard announced the Kenmare Fire Department won the bid to purchase a 1985 model city pumper from the Minot Fire Department, for a cost of $1,251.

The pumper would replace a 1971 American LaFrance pumper currently used by the Kenmare department.

Speed limit reduced
Ness noted the speed limit on U.S. Highway 52 was dropped from 65 mph to 45 mph south of the Gooseneck Implement location to the city boundary.

Ness requested the change from the North Dakota Department of Transportation following several near-accidents and problems reported at the entrance to the Gooseneck Implement facility.

10 applications for city patrolman
Troy Hedberg announced 10 applications were received for the open position in the Kenmare Police Department, with interviews to be scheduled with four individuals.

“We hope to make an offer by the end of next week,” he said. “Only one of the applicants has the qualifications we stated. The other three aren’t licensed here yet.”

Shots fired
Kling reported hearing gunshots in town Saturday about 10:30 pm.

Phil and Jani Kelly said they heard the same sound at that time.

Police chief Gary Kraft asked to be notified immediately about anyone discharging firearms in the city so officers could investigate the situation.

In other business:
•Council members approved the minutes of the July meeting and the city’s bills for payment, as presented.

•The council approved a request for $500 from the Hockey Booster gaming funds to benefit the Mouse River Loop Envirothon held for high school students in the region.

•Council members accepted the contract from Maguire Iron and authorized release of all retainers, now that the company has completed their work on the city’s new water storage tower.

•The council approved a building permit requested by Jamie Livingston to construct a 10’ x 14’ shed, as recommended by the Planning & Zoning Committee.

•Kenmare building inspector Don Siebert advised the council he expected the Planning & Zoning Committee to receive a significant request involving plat approval and rezoning for a tract of land adjacent to the Great Northern Trucking company east of Kenmare.

•Leet reported that resealing work had started on the city streets. Public works director Mike Thompson said he and water superintendent Dale Hanson were looking for assistance with the resealing project.

•Tori Kling reported 51 diseased trees were removed in the city, with only 13 of those located on city property. Cost for removal was $450 per tree, with bills sent to property owners.

•Council members approved a motion to sell the north portion of the city’s property at 203 4th Avenue SE (the former Butch Norrie residence) where departing police officer Seth Engelstad lives. Bids for the house and shop building will be accepted until the October city council meeting, with a minimum bid established at $220,000.

•Hedberg reported on a request for $30,000 from the Kenmare Airport Authority Board in order to access $1.4 million in funds from state and federal sources to repair and upgrade the runway. “They need $80,000, but they’re asking the city for $30,000 and Kenmare Veterans Club, Inc. for $30,000,” he said. Council members commended Airport Authority board member Hank Bodmer for his efforts to apply for the state and federal funding.