FAIRMONT - Fairmont City Council had its first meeting of 2013 on Monday, conducting the usual first-of-the-year business, but the meeting was less than routine.
For starters, there were three new faces: newly elected council members Terry Anderson and Chad Askeland, and city clerk Patty Monsen. Anderson and Askeland were sworn in, along with re-elected incumbent Wes Clerc.
The council voted on official designations, with Clerc to serve as the mayor pro tem; the Sentinel as the official newspaper for legal notices; and Bank Midwest the depository of city funds.
Anderson broke the mold and dissented, saying he thought the charter should be changed instead of the council voting by resolution on the designations each year. City administrator Mike Humpal explained that the designations can change from year to year, which Anderson said he understood.
Also new on Monday, city staff was able to successfully negotiate several three-year leases for tillable acres owned by the city. In the past, the city has offered one-year leases. The bump up to three years, with set prices for each year, is intended to generate more competition among bidders and better bids, and it did.
The council unanimously approved the bids, but not without discussing the merit of floating lease rates based on commodity prices, which Anderson believes would generate more money for the city. Councilman Joe Kallemeyn agreed with Anderson, but noted the three-year set-rate lease is "becoming more common than even five years ago. ... It is becoming the norm."
In other action, the council called for public hearings for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 28 to increase the water rates by 12 percent and wastewater rates by 8 percent.
Another hearing was set for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 11 for a code amendment that would allow residents to keep up to five chickens - no roosters - within city limits. The amendment would require chicken coops or runs be kept 35 feet from neighboring residences.
Also on Monday, the council approved:
o Advertising for bids for an addition to the animal shelter. Martin County Humane Society has raised about $120,000 for the project.
o Approved a request from the Borderline Cruisers Car Club to barricade several downtown streets for a car show on June 8.