A relatively routine action by Hutchinson City Council Dec. 22 sparked additional action due to COVID-19.
Every year the city must set the rate of fees for city services ranging from fire department responses to projector rentals. Fees also include the cost for licenses — including liquor licenses.
In order to cut a break to local businesses impacted by state shutdowns and fewer customers due to COVID-19, City Council members agreed to prorate local businesses on liquor licenses for 2021. Licenses range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. The city has already offered breaks to businesses in 2020 by taking into account the months of business missed so far.
"We used a formula to try and make it as fair across the board as we possibly could," said City Administrator Matt Jaunich.
"I think that would be a good idea to do again if it doesn't screw anything up too much," said Council Member Chad Czmowski.
Fees aren't considered a significant part of the city's general fund. Council members discussed giving businesses a break based on a certain percentage of the listed liquor license fees. One suggestion was to use the same formula as 2020 in order to stay flexible, as there is no indication of what shutdowns Gov. Tim Walz will extend in the new year, nor how long they will last. Another was to set a flat 40% or 50% discount.
"I like the 50%," Council Member Steve Cook said. "Even if they open up sooner and the prorate might have provided us a little more money, it doesn't matter."
"They aren't doing well even if they open up," Czmowski said, adding customers won't return at the same rate as before.
Council Member Mary Christensen made a motion to set the discount at 50% for 2021, which Mayor Gary Forcier seconded. The council unanimously agreed.
FEE SCHEDULE CHANGES
Along with the change made to the liquor license fees, the City Council approved the following changes to the city's fee schedule for 2021,
- A fire engine costs $250 an hour, up from $200.
- A water tanker truck costs $175 an hour, up from $150.
- A grass truck costs $150 an hour, up from $100.
- A utility truck with two firefighters costs $100 an hour, which is a new fee category.
- An ATV/UTV with two firefighters costs $150 an hour, which is a new fee category.
- A boat with two to four firefighters costs $150 an hour, which is a new fee category.
- An air supply unit costs $75 an hour, which is a new fee category
- Rescue now costs $200 per hour, every hour. It previously cost $200 the first hour, and $100 each additional hour.
- Repeat false alarms from faulty alarm systems now cost $500 per occurrence. The fee was previously calculated based on a formula.
- Fire incident reports now cost 25 cents per page. They previously cost $15 to $40 per report.
- Ice time at the civic arena now costs $185 per hour, up from $180.
- Water meter fees for 3/4 inch-by-5/8 inch are now $318, now with connections and flanges included, up from $295.
- Water meter fees for 1 inch are now $404, along with a water transmitter, up from $375.
- Storm water utility fees are up 3% to $6.10 for golf course, park and open space; $4.71 for a single- and two-family residential; $23.67 for a public/private school or institutional; $33.65 for multi-family residential and church; $60.20 for commercial and industrial; $8.15 for lots of 1 to 2 acres; $14.21 for lots of 2 to 3 acres; $20.27 for lots of 3 to 4 acres; and $26.35 for lots of 4 to 5 acres.
- A family estate property at the cemetery now begins at $20,000. The rare fee was not previously listed.
- A companion urn costs $240. The fee was not previously listed in the schedule.
- Pot stands cost $35 for an upright and $20 for a saddle mount. The fee was not previously listed in the schedule.
- Funerals that arrive more than 30 minutes late are now charged an additional $60. The fee becomes $100 for funerals that arrive more than 60 minutes later.
- Airport hangar 1/19 is now $250 per month, up from $230.
- Airport hangars 3/1 and 3/5 are now $270 per month, up from $240.
- Labor rate for an operator or laborer is now $60 per hour, up from $50 per hour. Newly added is a supervisor fee at $75 per hour. There is also a $20 per hour fee for premium/overtime pay.
- Reimbursement for property owners for a damaged mailbox not repaired by city staff is now $285, up from $275.
- Asphalt patching material is now $350 per ton, up to 3 tons, up from $270 per ton.