At its first regular meeting for the month of September, the Aitkin City Council heard from Police Chief Tim Catlin that the property matter between the city, Gary Weston and his neighbors had been resolved.
Catlin told the council at the Sept. 8 meeting that Weston had fulfilled his part of the bargain struck with the city in January 2020. With several weeks of extreme effort and communication with neighbors, Weston was able to move, sell and clean up the property. Friends gave him a place to live temporarily, which addressed the safety issue.
Catlin and Mayor Gary Tibbitts did a walk through of the Weston property on Aug. 31, the deadline set by the city. Catlin told Weston at that time, that there would be no further action against him because he did everything the council had asked him to do. After six months Catlin will do another inspection.
“It’s amazing what Gary has done ... it’s like night and day,” said Tibbitts.”
Catlin checked with the neighbors who had registered complaints about the property and they were both satisfied with the outcome.
The city of Aitkin needs new software to help it integrate with other software that allows residents to pay for and receive permits on line, City Administrator Rose Beverly told the council. Beverly has been looking at Civic Systems software, which is the same system adopted by Aitkin’s Public Utilities Commission. The cost is about $60,000; if CARES Act funding doesn’t cover it, there is also money in the budget to help with the purchase, Beverly said.
The software would be able to help with all of the needs the city has for record keeping and permitting.
Ongoing expenses for updates and support would be just under $10,000 per year. The city could borrow $20,000 for three years at zero percent interest if the CARES Act funding doesn’t cover the purchase of the system.
Making it possible for the city to provide services to residents who may not be willing or able to come in to the office to apply for permits during the pandemic is a high priority to Aitkin city government.
“We have to be able to provide services during this situation,” said council member Amanda Lowe “This is not going away.”
IN OTHER BUSINESS
• Mayor Tibbitts declared Sept 20-26 Minnesota Women of Today week, consistent with the national declaration.
• Donna Weiss, owner of the former Shopko building on the south edge of Aitkin, hosted a brainstorming session to talk about potential uses for the building. The Aitkin Chamber of Commerce was there representing local businesses. Weiss left the meeting feeling very confident that the community would support her with any resources needed to help a business move into that space. Minnesota Senator Carrie Ruud is looking for ways the state might be able to help.
• Beverly reported on the distribution of $159,000 of CARES Act funding received by the city. Aitkin gave $30,000 to the county to distribute to downtown area businesses that were affected. The 2020 CARES Act municipality agreement was provided as a handout and approved by the council.
• Ground was broken on Tuesday for the hockey rink project at the Aitkin City Park.
• The city passed two resolutions to accept grants funded by the Federal Highway Administration. One is for traffic safety and the other is for enforcement, said Catlin.
• A USDA grant for the purchase of police vehicles was approved.
• The city administration is having issues with mold in the new office space. Beverly is temporarily working out of the public library meeting room.
• The next city council meeting is Sept. 21 at the Aitkin Public Library.