New bill coming in your mailbox soon

As a result of actions taken at Tuesday's Cloquet City Council meeting, Cloquet residents can expect their first $4 stormwater utility charges in May, with their monthly water bill.

As a result of actions taken at Tuesday's Cloquet City Council meeting, Cloquet residents can expect their first $4 stormwater utility charges in May, with their monthly water bill.

Other residents, who aren't on city water or sewer, might not see a bill until later in the summer. Commercial and industrial properties - which will be charged according to the amount of impervious surface on their land - will likely get monthly stormwater utility bills.

Council members and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren voted unanimously Tuesday to pass two stormwater-related ordinances: the first establishing the utility and related charges; the second outlining a policy for stormwater "credits," to be given companies that take or have taken measures to decrease stormwater runoff from their properties.

The new utility is expected to have an annual budget of $350,000. Stormwater management activities expected to be funded by the fee include everything from detection and elimination of illicit discharges to the stormwater system to stabilization of erodible creeks and drainage ways, inspection of storm sewers and ditches, construction of water quality and quantity control structures, and more.

Approximately 60 people attended an informational meeting on the proposed utility in February and city staff fielded a number of calls about the proposal. However, no one spoke against the utility at a public hearing March 1, nor did any audience members speak for or against the stormwater utility Tuesday night.


Creating a stormwater utility is one way the state allows cities to raise money to pay for what basically are unfunded mandates from both the state and federal government regulating how cities must manage surface water in order to preserve natural resources.

Two residents did speak at Tuesday's council meeting, neither about something on the agenda.

  • Phil Maunu asked the city to place four-way stop signs at the intersection of Ninth Street and Selmser Avenue. Currently there is a two-way stop at that intersection, affecting people traveling on Ninth. Before last summer, the stop signs were on Selmser.

"Kids wait for the school bus there and cars go pretty fast," Maunu said. "We want people to slow down."
Ahlgren said Public Works Director James Prusak would look into the possibility of putting a four-way stop there.

  • Jodie Klanderud presented Councilors with a number of petitions asking the city to ban "provocative" material from store checkout lanes and other areas where children might see them. She was not referring to pornographic magazines, which are placed in locations children can't easily see or access, rather Klanderud was talking about magazines such as "Cosmopolitan" and "Sports Illustrated."

She also presented councilors and the mayor with a copy of a Minnesota State Statute (617.293), which states it is unlawful to sell any "any picture, photograph, drawing, sculpture, motion picture film, or similar visual
representation or image of a person or portion of the human body which depicts nudity, sexual conduct, or sadomasochistic abuse and which is harmful" to minors, or to display such material where minors are or may be present unless each item is blocked from view by an opaque cover.

When Mayor Ahlgren asked if she'd talked to the police department, Klanderud said Police Chief Wade Lamirande had suggested she bring her request to the city council.

Ahlgren said council members and city officials would discuss the matter at a future work session.

Also Tuesday:

City councilors approved special assessments for two street projects last summer: the reconstruction of Selmser Avenue from Highway 33 to 10th Street and the reconstruction of Avenue D, west of Chestnut Street.


Director of Public Works James Prusak explained that total costs for the Selmser Avenue project were $780,000. A total of just over $87,000 of those costs will be assessed to 39 property parcels abutting the project. The Avenue D project cost $173,000 with $36,900 of those costs to be assessed to nine property parcels. All the affected property owners should have received letters from the city

Although no citizens spoke during the public hearings regarding these projects, councilors and city staff held a lengthy discussion prompted by a citizen letter about how long residents have to pay the assessments.

In many cases, Prusak explained, people simply allow the annual assessment to roll over onto the next year's property taxes and pay it then, either over five or 10 years at 8 percent interest. The letter writer had asked for more time to pay his assessment.

"I wouldn't recommend that personally, because a person could do it at a lower cost through a home equity loan," Prusak said, adding that assessment interest costs aren't tax deductible but he thought interest on a home equity loan could be claimed as a deduction.

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