BAXTER - Baxter has found a way to have oak trees killed by the emerald ash borer removed from city property.
The Baxter City Council on Tuesday approved issuing a firewood permit for $25 to allow people to remove dead trees from city parks and other property. The city will mark the trees for removal.
In July the city learned hundreds of oak trees in Baxter Oak trees in Baxter were under attack from the two-lined chestnut borer, an exotic beetle from Asia, whose larvae have been feeding on distressed trees in the city the past few years.
Without the permit, the task of removing the trees would fall on city staff or by hiring an outside contractor.
"Hopefully it's going to save the city a lot of money," Public Works Director Trevor Walter said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the infested ash trees display dying crowns in the second year of infestation and most died from the emerald ash borer within five years.
Walter said the city has no cord limit, but will issue only one permit per area. So far, trees have been marked at city hall, Whipple Beach, Loren Thompson Park and the cemetery. Future sites include other city parks, such as the Mississippi River Overlook.
"This is a good thing. We have to get this stuff out of here," Mayor Darrel Olson said. "It's a shame to lose the trees, but..."
Council member Todd Holman said the permit not only helps prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer but will help the city in clearing trees downed by wind and other problems.
In other action, the council:
Approved the 2010 fee schedule, which includes no fee changes for building permits, planning and zoning items and water and sewer availability charges but has increases for staff time, water and sewer rates and cemetery plots.
Residential water rates will increase from $8.22 base rate and $2.68 per thousand gallons used to $8.63 base rate and $2.82 per thousand gallons used. Commercial water rates will increase from $20.90 base rate and $2.68 per thousand gallons used to $21.95 base rate and $2.82 per thousand gallons used.
Residential irrigation water plant charges will increase from $2 to $3 for up to 15,000 gallons used; and from $6 to $9 for more than 15,000 gallons. Commercial irrigation rates will go from $3 to $4.50 for up to 15,000 gallons, from $6 to $9 for 15,001-30,000 gallons, from $12 to $18 for 30,001-75,000 gallons, from $18 to $27 for 75,001-200,000 gallons, from $0 to $60 for 200,001-400,000 gallons, and from $80 to $120 for over 400,001 gallons.
Residential sewer rates will go from a $12.42 base rate and $3.48 per thousand gallons to $12.76 base rate and $3.57 per thousand gallons. Commercial sewer rates will go from $24.84 base rate and $3.48 per thousand gallons to $25.51 base rate and $3.57 per thousand gallons.
Cemetery fees will increase from $500 to $600 per plot.
Staff billing rates per hour will increase from $58 to $60 per hour for administration, $41 to $50 per hour for the GIS/IS coordinator, $45 to $47 per hour for a department supervisor, $40 to $42 per hour for building/public works inspections, $34 to $35 per hour for a maintenance worker, $24 to $25 per hour for office clerical and $36 to $37 per hour for a police officer. The rates are multiplied by 150 percent if overtime is needed.
Approved a 2010 tax levy of $5,650,700 and a 2010 budget of $18,590,000.
Approved a $8,533 contract with Animal Control Enforcement Services for 2010. The contract is about a $600 from 2009, but is charged at the same rate of $1.10 per resident. The increase is based on Baxter's population growth from 7,219 to 7,758.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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