Photo by Dave Warner – Jeff Van Gorder addresses the December 5, 2023, Common Council meeting about water issues.

By Dave Warner

The regular session of the Little Falls Common Council met on Tuesday night without any items on the agenda other than routine business.

After the pledge of allegiance and the roll call, Jeff Van Gorder approached the council to speak about some issues he had with his water bill. Van Gorder is one of twelve Town of Little Falls residents who receive City water. He wanted the City to reconsider the rate increase that those residents had just received.

He said, “In the 22 years that I’ve lived there, no one from the City has ever come and tested the water to actually tell us that the water is even good.”

Van Gorder said that he wasn’t asking them to go back to the original rate because everything has gone up, but he wanted them to consider the size of the increase to lower it a little bit. “Most of us are retired people on a fixed income.”

The Council listened to him, and then he met with the Mayor and City staff after the Council meeting to continue the discussion.

The Council approved the minutes from the November 2023 meeting and then the monthly bills, as well as reports from November 2023.

Alderman Brian Marhaver then thanked Justin Welyczko and Mayor Blask for their service to the community.

In the Mayor’s comment portion, Blask stated, “Deb and I are going to meet next week to make the transition as smooth as possible. It’s sort of like what Bob and I did eight years ago. Anything that I or anyone can do to make that transition as clean a handoff as can be, we’ll do.”

He said, “It’s our first agenda with no agenda, and nobody likes short meetings more than me.”

Blask said that there had been more than 5,200 meetings in the last eight years and so much going on. “You can sort of get lost in the numbers, but at the end of the day, we’re not going to remember that. In thirty years, we’re not going to remember who we hired down at the Canal or whether we raised taxes 1.2% or 1.5% or any of that. It’s really going to be the relationships that we built and how we tried to handle our business.”

He said that he had the utmost respect for everyone in the room and stated, “Local government is a slog.”

Blask said that what people would really remember was how they acted in times of crisis.

He remarked, “When I was thinking about running, I sat down with my Dad, and I said, Dad, I’m thinking about running for Mayor, and he said, ‘Why, do you have too many friends?'”

“I’m just proud of how we carried ourselves and everybody in this room,” he said. “Chet was the best hire I made five years ago on my porch. Having a full-time City Engineer has saved us so much over the  years.”

“Little Falls is just special and awesome,” Blask stated. “Thanks for letting me do this.”