Lanesboro councilman resigns, former councilor asked to return to service
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 4:50 AM
In its monthly meeting on July 1, the Lanesboro City Council thanked Councilor Joe O'Connor for his 12 years of service on the council and approved his request to resign.
"It's been very rewarding to serve," said O'Connor, who will be moving to Byron to take care of family. He thanked all the city employees, committees and councils he knew and served on throughout his terms calling them "good, hard, loyal people."
Councilman Tom Dybing said O'Connor had been a leader in his time on the council.
The council approved the resignation of O'Connor after all other business had been taken care of in the regular meeting.
The council then began to discuss how they would go about filling the empty council seat.
City attorney Tom Manion said they should fill it as soon as possible, but didn't have to fulfill a certain process.
The name of former council member Ceil Allen was brought up as a person who had experience in public service, committees and management.
The council came to a consensus to ask Allen to return to the city council.
Capital improvement plan
Mike Bubany from David Drown Associates, Inc., presented the city's current debt summary and a spreadsheet projection of utility rates to the council members. These figures were based upon what projects the city undertakes within the next 20 years.
According to Bubany, the city's general obligation tax increment financing and community center bonds will be paid off by the end of the year. This amounts to around $45,000 in outstanding debt. He went through the other issued bonds, their rates and callable dates.
The city has almost $2.5 million in total bonded debt with $1.6 million of that in general obligation debt. This is $2,115 in general obligation debt per capita, which is considered a low to moderate amount, in comparison of other cities of Lanesboro's size.
Taking into account three percent annual inflation, Bubany said households would see their utility bills stay cheaper than the average if the city didn't take on any more projects.
However, the city does plan on going through a $2.75 million well and water treatment project in 2014 and a $2 million dam project yet this year.
Bubany plugged the numbers into a spreadsheet formula that calculated the amount of general obligation debt the residents would pick up every year. In 2014, residents could reasonably expect their monthly utility costs to increase $10 to $14 a month more than in 2013. However, the rates would level out from there and actually fall beneath the average inflation-adjusted line.
Fire, ambulance reports
Ambulance director David Haugen, in his last day in the position, told the council that the ambulance committee would be looking at purchasing an ambulance on a $62,000 loan from the USDA and a $23,000 grant. The actual price of the ambulance was unknown. The council tabled the item in order to receive a quoted price of the ambulance.
The council considered the job description and estimated salary for a part-time ambulance director position. A possible 12 percent increase in rates for answered calls was also discussed. The increase would cover the cost of the part-time director. The information was determined to be sent to the ambulance staff for review and provide them an opportunity to provide input on the issue.
Fire Department Chief Rob Wagner told the council about a few communication issues that occurred during the flood event on June 23.
Coordinating efforts with the county to help people who were threatened was difficult, Wagner explained, because Lanesboro does not share an 800 megahertz radio system like the county has. He said each ambulance department is receiving one console.
Wagner also said the city's emergency command center would be moved to the fire hall. The department wrote a grant for matching funds to get two head-end radios for the fire hall.
In other business before the council, the city discussed the following issues.
City Administrator David Todd explained the city had received its pay equity report from the state, which showed a violation in the female class of employees. The city has until September to re-file the report showing the necessary changes, otherwise the city would be fined. Todd presented a revised step plan for female employees that would bump up the maximum pay and bring the pay scale into compliance. Todd explained pay equity ensures female employees are paid at least 80 percent of similarly employed male workers.
The council approved an ordinance related to littering. It clarifies that littering on public or private property in Lanesboro is illegal. Carrying and possessing glass containers on the segment of the Root River running through Lanesboro is prohibited as well. Violations will be fined at no less than $300, which doesn't include the cost of the city removing the litter. The council approved a summary publication of the ordinance.
Chamber of Commerce treasurer Julie Charlebois said the city-wide weed-up night had been cancelled and that she hoped people would start taking care of problem spots throughout town. She also said a complaint was being filed for a possible violation against the Federal Aviation Administration during Art in the Park. A helicopter providing rides had made an unplanned visit to the city that weekend. Charlebois said several residents complained the helicopter was flying too close to the ground since the rotor's downdraft was blowing stuff around.
Public hearings were set for Aug. 5 relating to a light replacement request by RLH Grain and a conditional use permit request for an open air market by Eric Bunge.
Temporary liquor licenses for the Commonweal Theatre were approved for July 7 and Aug. 11.