Business items included in the Canton City Council agenda last Wednesday, April 12, included the review and subsequent approval of a quote received from DSG (Dakota Supply Group) for the purchase of meters for installation in the city. The second quote from Minnesota Pipe and Equipment was presented but was significantly higher and not approved.

The estimate of $47,120 from DSG includes costs for the software for the maintenance department and office computers, new drive-by reading equipment, a new laptop for the maintenance department, as well as setters needed for installation of the new meters.

The meter costs will be paid for through a possible grant from Rural Water.

It had been decided previously to include the costs of painting the water tower in the grant application. Last week, the council also discussed adding replacement costs for a new well house meter, as it may not be reading accurately, and also wiring for the well pump when the grant application is submitted.

Public Works director Jon Nordsving reported that the issue of washed out sand on the ballfield had been discussed with the Canton Legion and their organization would be taking care of the matter.

It was also decided to utilize WHKS as the city engineer for future projects since Nordsving reported there would be no annual fees and that the firm had been very helpful with technical support in the past.

Request to allow chickens

Julia Pugh was present to request that the city allow chickens within the city.

Pugh requested that there be a change in the current practice of restricting farm animals in the city of Canton. Pugh stated her family has determined that chickens are therapeutic animals for her children, who have special needs. She also stated that other communities are allowing five hens only for egg production, but she would like to have more if possible, although even five would be acceptable to her. Pugh stated the chickens would be confined, not be allowed to be free range.

After considerable discussion, it was recommended that Pugh talk to her neighbors to determine if there were any in opposition to her proposal.

The consensus of the council was that there would be no ordinance change but the possibility of securing a conditional use permit would be checked into. However, it was also stated if only one neighbor was in opposition, there would be no change to the city’s stand on animals in town even if the proposal by Pugh would fall under conditional use permit guidelines.

Nuisance ordinance

Charlie Warner requested clarification on the “junkyard” or nuisance ordinance enforcement process. Clerk Lolly Melander and Mayor Donivee Johnson explained that a deputy and the clerk patrol the city to determine violators of the ordinance and the deputy will also issue tickets for unlicensed vehicles at that time.

The clerk then will send out notices, giving the violators 30 days to come into compliance.

A second patrol is then scheduled after 30 days.

Fire Department report

Randy Gossman reported as fire chief on the purchase of a used fire department pumper at a cost of $30,000.

It was decided that Johnson will check on either adding this cost to the existing loan or, if interest is better, refinance the outstanding loan with the addition of $23,000 to the $21,000 balance. The Fire Department will be paying $7,000 towards the purchase.

There was some discussion on the process of switching insurance coverage on the truck, with Melander stating that it takes at least a week for the implementation of insurance. No test driving of the newly acquired truck was advised until coverage was confirmed.

It was also decided that the retired fire truck will be sold, as well as the retired jaws-of-life, previously purchased from the Fountain Fire department.

The decision was made to place an ad on Craiglist for the two pieces of fire department equipment as well as the retired Chevrolet S10; all with right of refusal if the bids received were not considered to be adequate.

Other Fire Department discussion items included an update on the charges to the surrounding townships for fire coverage service fees for 2018.

The possibility of determining a per-acre charge as well as the process of per-capita billing was touched upon. It was also mentioned by Johnson that the State of Minnesota has a formula for determining fire department charges which may be passed along to the community.

There was no action taken, although it was noted that changes should be determined by July.

The proposed addition to the fire hall discussed over a series of meetings was determined to not be feasible due to lack of available footage to meet set-back requirements required by the EPA.

Possible changes to the interior usage of the building discussed included eliminating the community center area, converting the space into a locker room for fire department gear and fire department meeting space.

It was determined that the $350 total rent proceeds for the community center last year did not offset the utility cost of the building.

It was also noted by Charlie Warner that the Town Hall has undergone recent improvements as well and increased usage of that building would be a good thing.

Other business

The tabled issue from the March meeting regarding implementation of a $10 late fee as suggested by the new city auditor was discussed. It was the feeling of the council that there are very few late submissions of bills and that the same handful of residents would be involved. The suggestion was not approved.

The annual opt-in to the peak alert program implemented by MiEnergy was approved, resulting in a significant savings for the city, according to Melander. This program has been in place since 2014.

Animal control was mentioned, with Carl Ernst submitting a bill for $270 for time and disposal of nine raccoons in the city. Ernst had reported that all the animals were diseased.

It was also noted that Fillmore County Victim Services is displaying teal ribbons on lampposts throughout the city of Canton in observance of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.