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Martens issues ultimatum to City of Armstrong

By Staff | Nov 22, 2013

Emmet County Sheriff Mike Martens told the Emmet County Board of Supervisors Tuesday he was giving the City of Armstrong 30 days to pay back dispatching fees for the past 13 months – or have services discontinued.

“If people aren’t going to pay for the services they’re receiving then they need to lose receiving those services,” said Martens, adding that Armstrong’s not paying was not fair to other Emmet County residents.

Martens said a total of $13,000 was in arrears.

Martens said the City of Estherville pays 35 percent of the cost of dispatch services while under its contract Armstrong pays 5 percent. “They are paying essentially the same rate,” Martens said. He said the last payment received from Armstrong was to June 30, 2012.

Martens said he would serve a letter on the Armstrong City Council and unless an agreement was made for payment within 30 days dispatching services would end.

Under a separate agreement, the county provides law-enforcement services for Armstrong for $1,000 a month.

In another matter, county engineer Roger Patocka noted that Alpha Wireless wanted to transfer ownership of its radio tower located on Emmet County property to the county.

Patocka said Alpha had made a 25-year agreement with the county in 1993; however, Patocka said the company does not have as many customers now so it wants to divest itself of the tower.

Patocka said Alpha would sell the tower for $1 but reserve space on the tower so it would no longer have to pay taxes. Patocka said 2012 taxes were $776.

“Basically they want to pass all their costs on to county taxpayers,” observed supervisor Jon Martyr.

Patocka said Alpha could decommission the tower and the county could pay one of its competitors $166 a month for tower space. The county doesn’t pay anything now for using Alpha’s tower.

Patocka said the county’s best option would be if Alpha gave the tower to the county. Then the county wouldn’t have to pay to relocate the FCC license, he said.

The tower is located west of Estherville along Highway 9 and south of the old Golden Sun proving grounds.

In other business, Patocka said in his road report that crews were ditch burning, putting up snowfence, blading and clearing mud and manure off roads. He noted increased shoulder damage on hard surface roads and edge rutting.

As a possible solution, he said the county could charge for damages. He said he has submitted bills and collected insurance money from commercial manure haulers.