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Community Members Voice Concerns At Raucous Edina City Council Meeting
By Echo Menges
The most tumultuous Edina City Council meeting of recollection took place at the Edina City Hall on Monday, September 10, 2012. It was one of the most well attended council meetings of the year. Several community members attended to either observe the meeting or voice their concerns.
Concerns voiced by community members included a concern over maintenance on city vehicles only being performed by businesses owned by council members, the Edina Police Department’s response to the report of a community member burning waste on their property during a city, county and state invoked burn ban and a sewer fee, which a member of the community felt they should not have to pay.
During the Citizen’s Comments portion of the meeting, resident Scott Krunze asked the Mayor if the city put bids out for work on city vehicles or offered their business to mechanics other than council member’s Tom Morgret or Sid Leckbee who abstained from voting on paying bill’s to shops they are directly associated with, Morgret’s Garage and L&S Auto Repair, during the meeting. The Mayor responded that they do try to spread the work around and the council would take the issue into advisement.
Community member Karlene Deveny, was listed on the agenda to address the council. During her time at the podium she brought up the issue of reporting her neighbor for burning waste in his backyard during a city, county and state wide burn ban, which was reported to the Edina Police Department, but was not responded to until the fire went out of control and burned approximately two acres of grass and other growth around her home and on an adjacent lot nearby last month.
Edina Police Chief Roger Waibel responded that he was too busy with police business to respond to someone burning and that the fire department, not the police department, should have been called. Mayor Davey Strickler pointed out that it was the first time in his time as Mayor, two decades, the city has experienced such a high level of drought and the first time the council had ever invoked a ban on burning. Mayor Strickler also pointed out that were was no procedure for such a situation, but since the August incident, one has been established.
In the future if the police department is unavailable to respond to a call of that nature the city will take the next step of referring the call to the Edina Fire Department.
“I’m sorry the fire took place, but it did and we’ve learned from it,” said Mayor Strickler.
The final community member on the agenda to speak to the council was Jean Morton. She was upset that she was being forced to pay the sewer portion of her water bill because the excessive amount of water she used to keep her lawn, garden and flowers alive during the extreme drought was not put through the city’s sewer line, though she was being charged as if it was.
The council’s response to Morton’s request for a discount on her sewer fee was a flat out no. The reasons sited were that it wouldn’t be fair to discount only her bill, the inability to accurately gauge exactly how much water went into her sewer and the city’s policy of charging for sewer use by the amount of water used by every one of the city’s water customers.
A draft of the minutes of the City of Edina’s September 10, 2012 regular City Council meeting will be printed by The Edina Sentinel within the next few weeks.