The Milbank City Council met for their regularly-scheduled monthly meeting on Monday, March 13, at the Milbank Visitors Center. They faced a full agenda.
Marylynne Fields asked the council to ban Milbank merchants from using plastic bags. Fields stated she has been the “bagless lady” for the last ten years to support her concerns about the pollution created by plastic bags.
Milbank Mayor Pat Raffety replied that he believes the council is already very proactive towards recycling. He said he believes the use of plastic bags is a business choice and it is not within the city’s authority to impose a ban.
Mark Veen of Bent Arrow Archery Range and Pro Shop expressed his appreciation to the council for their cooperation in the successful Shoot Up the business hosted on March 4.
The council passed resolution 3-13-23 to allow for the creation of an ambulance district for Grant County. The resolution brings with it a tax levy on property at .089 per $1000 of value. The levy will provide funding for the Grant-Roberts Ambulance which currently runs at an annual deficit. Hitherto, the county has been supplementing the service with $30,000 per year.
Councilman Wehy stated that he believes Grant-Roberts Ambulance offers top-notch service as it has advanced life support capability (ALS) as opposed to many ambulance companies that offer only basic service.
Council Approved the Consent Agenda
The board ratified the hiring of Ashton Loken as a part-time lifeguard; Merik Junker as a seasonal baseball instructor; Ethan Adolph as a part-time building attendant; and Gil Parent and McKenzie Mertens as part-time fitness instructors.
The board accepted the resignation of Cindy Bogenrief, who has been a building attendant at Unity Health and Fitness. They also accepted the resignation of Alex Nelson.
The board authorized funds to pay for advertising to obtain street materials and to hire a street department worker.
A public hearing was held in response to the proposed water improvement project. The hearing was the next required step in the funding application process.
Pat Carey from Banner Associates presented an overview and discussed several options for improvements. Carey went over an all-encompassing document that examines the existing system and its storage, treatment, distribution, and supply. He talked about the city’s current water needs from the standpoints of commercial, industrial, and residential usage and touched on its future needs.
Discourse on the project started several months ago, when officials began looking at the need for improvements to the system, due to an anticipated increase in demand from commercial-industrial and potential residential users.
Greg Maag from First District of Local Governments spoke on loan and grant applications. The dialogue continued to include the viability of the City of Milbank applying for a loan or a grant for Phase I and Phase II of the project. The estimated cost for the entire project is $12,316,800.
A rate increase for city water bills was also discussed. No action was taken. Instead, the council decided to study the information before taking action and called for a special meeting on Monday, March 20. The focus of the meeting will be to sign the resolution authorizing an application for financial assistance for the water plan and discuss possible rate increases.
The board approved a $35,430 bid from Thein Well Company to conduct testing on the city’s three wells near Twin Brooks.
Scott Meyer reported that in the last few weeks the city crew has plowed the city streets seven times and cleaned the downtown area, Visitors Center, and Unity Health and Fitness 12 times. The department has also cleaned the highway 12 times, in addition to citywide plowing.
The January and February treasurer’s report was approved. The council voted to pay bills in the amount of $408,121.84.
The mayor requested that all department heads create an inventory list of mobile equipment (anything with an engine) and include a rating scale.
Housing & Development-
The council amended and approved an agreement between the City of Milbank and the Grant County Development Corporation (GCDC) to fund housing development infrastructure in Milbank. The amendments were clarifications of the rights and responsibilities of each party in the agreement.
In July 2022, the council approved earmarking the sales tax revenue that will come from the $195 million Valley Queen expansion to pass on to the GCDC. The board stipulated at that meeting that the money collected in 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2025 would be turned over to GCDC quarterly and deposited in a separate fund. The agreement states that the GCDC must use the funds solely to fund infrastructure for new housing developments.
GCDC revealed they have four parties interested in building new developments. In the past, developers indicated the cost of installing infrastructure has been prohibitive. Infrastructure such as water, sewer, streets, curb, and gutter must be built to the City of Milbank’s specifications.
Planning & Zoning
During the meeting, the council approved the first reading of revisions to Ordinance 846- Chapter 16.
The preliminary plan for a new housing development on the north side of Milbank was passed by the council. The project has a tentative start date of spring 2023.
Mayor Raffety appointed councilman Craig Weinberg to the Consolidated Board of Equalization.
GCDC and Milbank Chamber of Commerce
Councilman Weinberg reported the GCDC board toured the Koch Living Center in February.
The council approved a permit for the Milbank Chamber to hold a Cinco de Mayo celebration at Lake Farley Park on May 6.
Josh Karels reported flows are at 320,000 gallons per day. The city passed the first quarter toxicity test at 100 percent.
Reports were also provided from the Lake Farley, Parks and Cemetery, Unity Health and Fitness, Fire, Rubble Site and Airport departments The next regular monthly meeting of the MIlbank City Council is scheduled for Monday, April 10, at 7 p.m. in the Milbank Visitors Center.