Zumbrota plans to pass a penalty for water meter violations

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By Tara Chapa 

ZUMBROTA – The Zumbrota City Council met Thursday, April 3, and discussed the need for a penalty when a Zumbrota resident violates a water meter regulation. By the time the discussion concluded, the council did agree to set forth an administrative fee of $1,000 that encompasses all methods of bypassing a water meter; however, a formal penalty was not yet passed.

The water department received information about a house that has been plumbed so the sprinkler system is ahead of the water meter. A picture was provided for council members at the meeting. The plumbing is a violation of city code and needs to be corrected. Currently, the city has no penalty in place other than a criminal penalty (1099).

City Administrator Neil Jensen said that in talking with attorney Matt Rockne, the city needs to put something in place. Jensen said that the City of Byron has a penalty for bypassing a home’s water meter.  Residents and businesses caught doing this for any reason are fined $1,000 and may be issued a criminal citation. 

Jensen said that, on average, sprinkler systems use 34,000 gallons of water per month in the middle of the summer.  This translates to $65 to $70 per month. The sprinkler systems run about six months a year.  The violation under discussion is one method of bypassing the water meter, and there are several others ways. If the council agrees to charge for a violation, Jensen said it should pertain to all methods of bypassing a water meter. Jensen added that Zumbrota residents can bring their violation to the city council for a hearing. 

Rebranding the City of Zumbrota

At the last city council work session meeting in early March, the council decided that a committee should be formed to direct the council’s effort to rebrand the city. The committee would be a cross-section of business owners and residents from Zumbrota. This committee would also look at the strategic plan of the city as a guide for the next 10-15 years.  

Mayor Rich Bauer said that the possible sale of the former Grover Auto lot to Dollar General Store has resulted in quite a bit of talk about how Zumbrota should look as a community. An updated strategic plan will guide the downtown and other areas of the city as well as help the council and fellow boards with placement of business inquiries such as this. Bauer said that city staff’s duties are to present these business inquiries to the city for review and consideration of specific areas of Zumbrota that are best suited for their type of business. Bauer also said they will continue to present inquiries to the council for consideration, no matter the type of business or situation. 

City Administrator Neil Jensen and City Development Director Dan King announced that there is a seminar coming up in May regarding the city’s rebranding efforts. Both of them said they felt this would be a great opportunity for city staff to educate themselves. Councilor Tina Hostager said no further decisions should be made until councilor Sara Durhman is available to take the lead on the rebranding of the city as well as the strategic planning committees.  Durhman was not present at the meeting. The council agreed to wait for her to assist in appointing a sub-committee for both the city’s rebranding efforts and the strategic plan. After appointing the one or two committees, they will move forward with listening to marketing firm presentations. 

Lawn mowing

The city is need of renewing a lawn care company. The council agreed to move forward with Green Edge Lawn Service at $715 total per mowing. This is a 6% increase over the current contract and runs from 2014-16.

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