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Hancock City Council may charge fee for lights

Can you put a value on safety? The Hancock City Council can - a value that helps ensure some degree of safety in the city. For $12,000 a year the city is kept illuminated at night by city street lights. Lights that for many, offer security and hopefully less crime.

However, the question now is whether the city should pass on the cost of that security to residents. Earlier this year when the city was looking at possible cuts in state aid, charging city residents for the street light expense was one of the options considered in meeting the budget.

The city was spared this round of cuts however there is still talk that this may not be the case in future state budget debates. In preparation for this possibility the Hancock City Council discussed adding a nominal monthly fee for the lights.

The contract the City of Hancock has with Otter Tail Power for the street lights is due next summer. This would be the time to add the franchise fee for the lights. Otter Tail would include it in their bills and then collect it on for city. When breaking down the cost of the lights by the parcels in the city it is estimated that each parcel costs $3.28 per month to stay illuminated.

Council decided to not immediately charge this entire fee but rather to start out with a nominal fee per parcel of a little over $1 per month. By putting the provision in place they will be able to raise the fee later if needed.

Other business

* Council received a request for 'Watch for Children' signs or even

another stop sign on 7th Street near Walnut Court. Traffic does not seem to slow down when heading in or out of town and there are many children playing in the area, especially around the ball park. Council will look into added signs and also ask Police Chief Heikkinen to patrol there more often.

* A citizen reported that a rock thrown from the city lawn mower had broken a window. After seeing the size of the rock and discussing the mower capabilities, council did not feel that it was caused by the city mower. The citizen was not home at the time of the incident thus did not witness what actually occurred.

* Public Works Director Vern Christie reported that he will be planting trees at the end of August. He also made a request to purchase a new metal detector that is used to locate lines. The cost is $900. He was asked to check on possible grants.

* The city will get more quotes for replacing sidewalk on 5th street between Hancock Ave and Lion St. on the east side of the street. The city's share in the replacement would be $2,882. Property owners would pay the remainder.

* The city approved a list of rules for West Side Park which will be posted on a billboard at the park.

* The Hancock Upholstery building will be turned over to the city. A discussion was held about possibly demolishing it and the current senior citizens building and applying for a grant to build a new senior citizens center. City Clerk Andrea Swenson will look into grant options.

The council members watched a 12 minute video on proper methods of conducting a city meeting. They will hold a special budget meeting on August 24 and the next regular council meeting will be on September 14.