Council hears about potential improvements to Wallenberg Drive

By Chad Koenen


The Ottertail City Council joined several other communities in the region with a large increase in its 2024 preliminary tax levy. 

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, Sept. 21, the Ottertail City Council approved a 30 percent increase to its 2024 preliminary tax levy. The city council said it wanted to have a larger preliminary tax levy since it could lower the amount at a later date, but cannot increase its tax levy before it is finalized at the end of the year. 

If the preliminary tax levy is finalized as currently proposed the city’s tax levy will increase from $590,502 in 2023 to $767,652 in 2024. 

Several city council members said they hope to lower the preliminary tax levy before it is finalized at the end of the year. 

In addition to the preliminary tax levy, the city approved hosting a community meeting for potential improvements on Wallenberg Drive. The city recently received a request from property owners along the road to pave the remaining portion of Wallenberg Drive that is currently Class 5. 

Bob Schliemann, of Apex Engineering, presented estimated costs for three different proposals for the project. 

The first option would be to pave a portion of Wallenberg Drive that is currently gravel, but would not include making any surface or underground improvements. The cost of that project would be $165,000.

The second option would be to pave all of Wallenberg Drive and make the road a 20-foot-wide bituminous surface the entire length of the way. That project would cost $235,000.

The third option would be to pave all of Wallenberg Drive and extend the water main for future development. The cost of the third option would be $317,000

Since a majority of the project could be assessed to adjacent property owners, the city council said it would like to get the input of those affected by the project before moving forward with one of the three options. 

In other news

• Held a tax abatement hearing for Thalmann Farmstead fourth addition, rezoning of a property at 90 Bay View from commercial to residential, rezoning of Thalmann Farmstead third and fourth additions to single family and held a CUP hearing for NEVO and K&K Adventures to move more that 300 cubic yards of dirt to redo a driveway. The four proposals were later approved in the meeting by the city council.

• Approved the purchase of new protective fire gear for the Ottertail Fire Department. The cost of the new gear was $24,421.75. The last time the city purchased new gear was in 2002 and the Ottertail Lions Club provided a donation to help with the purchase. 

• Heard an update on the Ottertail Family and Recreational Center from Alex and Tyler Rupe. The Rupes asked the city to be a partner in the childcare and community center project, which would open up more grant opportunities for the facility. The council agreed to have a work session with interested parties to explore a potential partnership and how to raise the necessary funds to construct the facility.

• Approved a donation of $550 to the West Central Initiative fund. 

• Heard the 2022 annual audit from city auditor Brian Kane. The audit showed that the general fund is down about $17,000 from the previous year and cash is down about $70,000 overall in the city. Kane said that is not a surprise as the city completed a number of projects last year and made several large purchases that had been discussed for quite some time. 

• Approved a cost of living increase of 2.5 percent and step increase for Justin Lohse, Nessa Burlingame and Amanda Thorson. The city council also approved a $200 increase to the family medical insurance contribution and a $25 increase to the city employees HSA per pay period. The increase will result in a $1,100 month contribution for full-time employees with a family plan (city pays 100 percent single coverage) and a $600 per year increase in HSA contributions for full-time employees.