FL City Council hikes utility rates; sewer and water will jump 10%

2012 fee schedule adopted 4-1

Jennifer Mevissen
Staff Writer

The utility bills that will be going out in the next couple of weeks won’t reflect the increase to sanitary sewer and water rates in Forest Lake as the statement only includes the final three months of 2011.

“They won’t see the bill for the new rates until April,” City Finance Director Ellen Paulseth said on Tuesday.

Charges for water and sanitary sewer have not been raised in seven years, she has previously said. The Forest Lake City Council adopted the 2012 fee schedule 4-1 during their regular meeting on Monday night. Councilman Michael Freer was the lone dissenting vote.

The consumer impact based on the 10 percent increase in sanitary sewer and water rates breaks down to be: an extra $58.55 annually for a family of four using 22,000 gallons per quarter; $25.16 per year for 5,000 gallon per quarter users – typical of senior citizens; and around $3,628 for business or industrial users.

In Forest Lake, the utility bills are sent out quarterly.

Although Councilwoman Jackie McNamara voted with the majority, she is very against the rise to rates.

“I don’t agree with it,” McNamara said.

Other Changes

The cost to have a booth at Arts in the Park this summer is also going up. The $50 fee to commercial vendors will increase to $75 after June 1. The same goes for produce and crafts; $35 before June 1 and $50 after that date.

City Parks Coordinator Renae Reedy explained that there are two categories: early bird and regular season rates. This change, she said, was made to address the extra staff costs and planning challenges associated with vendors committing after the event has already begun.

“I wanted to add an incentive to have people sign-up beforehand,” Reedy said.


The city council amended its current ordinance pertaining to the issuance of dog licenses, effective Jan. 1, 2013.

“All of our supplies are set up for a one-year renewal,” said City Administrator Aaron Parrish.

Previously, each dog over the age of six months had to be licensed annually. Now, a license will be issued for a period of three years or until the expiration of the dog’s rabies vaccination certificate, whichever comes first.

The fee is $10 per year. Parrish said the council will evaluate the cost for dog licenses at a later date. Members will also consider a making the licensing for massage therapists to be done on a less frequent basis than annually, and city staff is working to draft a revised ordinance.

Official Publication

ECM Publishers, Inc. was chosen to be official newspaper for the city of Forest Lake in 2012. The Forest Lake Times submitted a bid to print legal notices at $6.55 per column inch with 6 point type and 11 lines per inch.

Press Publications proposed a rate in the Forest Lake Press of $4.75 per column inch with 7 point type and 9 lines per inch.

City Attorney Dave Hebert noted there’s a state statute that requires a legal publication to have a local office and the Times is the only one between the two bidders to be located in Forest Lake.

Freer said that ECM is still more expensive and has done nothing to address their prices.

However, Councilman Jim DuFour said it’s basically a wash when comparing the two rates.

In other news, the council:

• Approved a water surface use permit for Frankie’s Live Bait & Marine for their Tuesday Night League to hold a bass tournament on June 12 from 5-8:45 p.m.

• Appointments for 2012: Stantec, Inc. to provide city engineering services in 2012; Northland Securities & Ehlers, Inc. as financial advisor for tax increment financing and bonding; and Central Bank, UBS, Wells Fargo Brokerage & investments, Northland Securities and Fransden Bank as the city’s depositories.