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Armstrong Council votes to end dispatching payment to county

September 4, 2012
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

ARMSTRONG - The Armstrong City Council Tuesday night voted to end its $800 monthly dispatching fee to Emmet County.

Police chief Craig Merrill said he had tried to set up a meeting with Sheriff Mike Martens and that Martens said he could call him. "He said it wasn't a crisis," Merrill said.

"If it isn't a crisis then, I think we should stop paying it," said council member Dave Grussing. "There is nothing that's been signed. They're trying to enforce a contract that does not exist."

Grussing moved that the City of Armstrong not pay the $800 monthly dispatching fee until the city can see in writing where it has to pay.

"What impact would it have on you, Craig," Mayor pro tem Don Leach asked Merrill after the vote.

"They could shut my radio off," said Merrill, who qualified, "Worst case, they could shut my radio off. But they'd still have to dispatch calls."

At its July meeting, the council discussed figures prepared by McGregor Accounting for the city showing that Armstrong paid a total of $12,000 to the sheriff's department for law enforcement coverage plus $10,000 in dispatch fees plus property tax support of $43,976 for a total of $65,976 support for the sheriff's department.

However, when contacted after Monday's council meeting, Emmet County Sheriff Mike Martens said the $1,000 his department gets for providing coverage for Armstrong is transferred to the county general fund. And as for the $800 in monthly dispatching fees - or 5 percent of dispatchers' salaries - that goes directly to the county general fund and his department never sees it.

"In neither case do these funds come to the sheriff's office," Martens said.

The $43,976 in question also goes directly to the county general fund.

In other business at Tuesday's meeting, Merrill said charges had been filed against one person for burglary at the city pool with charges pending against another individual.

In another matter, council member Jon Larsen asked Merrill if he was still spending time at Armstrong-Ringsted School as part of the Safe and Supportive Schools grant.

"The Department of Education decided they didn't want me there," said Merrill. "They decided that was a waste of money."

The council agreed to get bids for the water plant roof and also agreed to send out a request for proposals for a garbage truck so the city may provide garbage service to residents. Council member Warren Haeckel voted against the motion.

"I would at some time like being asked to vote in this," said council member Jon Larsen, objecting to the council's sending a letter to Waste Management, the city's current solid waste provider, that the city would no longer be needing its services.

Council member Adrian Hagebock said the city had to give Waste Management a six-month notice before ending its contract, and Grussing said the letter was not to tell Waste Management to stop providing service but to give them a six-month notice.

The council approved an agreement with Amy Beattie of Brick Gentry, P.C. for legal services for amending the urban renewal plan and development agreement with Casey's General Store. City clerk Connie Thackery said the change would let the city pay for its share of the storm sewer cost-share agreement with Casey's with TIF funds.

In another matter, Hagebock said the personnel committee had recommended a 3 percent raise to all rull-time employees.

Leach said the matter would have to be taken up at the next council meeting.

Grussing asked about the possibility of placing handicap parking signs by the library.



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