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Board considers water rate increase

The Luverne Water Works and Sewer Board is considering a proposed rate increase to help offset current operating expenses, Mayor Joe Rex Sport told the city council on Monday night.

"Right now we're just below or where we'll breakeven on our water expenses," said Sport.

Sport said the increase has not been officially adopted by the board and is still in the discussion phase. Sport said even with the increase, cost for water would remain considerably lower than municipalities similar in size to Luverne.

The mayor also reported on a recent meeting of the Public Safety Committee and Luverne Police Department concerning the city's fine structure as it involved parking and traffic violations. Sport said the committee is discussing raising fines across the board in an effort to curb the excessive speeding and unlawful parking in downtown and other areas of Luverne.

Additionally, Councilman Al Snellgrove, Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, wished to make merchants aware that in order for the city to enforce handicap-parking violations, proper signage must be in place.

"Merchants have to have an actual sign designating a space as a handicap parking space," he said. "Just having the blue parking stripes is not enough."

Sport said the city receives the money from the fine only and no court costs associated with a ticketed offense. Court costs can exceed $130.

Sport said there had been two inquires from outside industries about possibly locating in the city's Industrial Park on U.S. Highway 331. Recently released data show Luverne with an unemployment rate of below five percent and Sport said it might be difficult for these industries to find a sufficient number of employees, which could number in the hundreds.

"It may not be easy to come up with those numbers," he said. "And that could leave a hole in other jobs in the area, with people leaving to take these jobs. But we're willing to meet with these industries to see what they'd like to do and how we can help them."

Luverne's unemployment rate has declined steadily as Hyundai Tier 1 suppliers like SMART, Inc. and Dongwon have added employees to its growing workforce. Councilman Jimmy Lester, Chairman of the city's Economic Development Board, told the council that career centers in Crenshaw and Butler counties were the two 'busiest in the state' last year.

Sub-district baseball and softball tournaments hosted by the city have also proceeded well, said Sport.