Thanks and gratitude were expressed by the Lanesboro City Council and various members of the public toward Bobbie Vickerman who will be resigning her position as city administrator/clerk before the next regular city council meeting, which is April 8. She has accepted a position as the deputy finance director of Winona County.

At its meeting, on Monday evening, the council discussed how it should move forward with filling the vacancy and delegating responsibilities. Deputy Clerk Michele Peterson had sent a letter to the council stating she would be able to take on additional responsibilities.

"We don't want to rush into a decision yet," stated Mayor Steven Rahn.

Vickerman provided the council with a list of responsibilities, job requirements, experience and basic objectives of the administrator/clerk position.

Having community input on finding a new administrator/clerk was discussed and a motion was made and approved to set up a special council meeting on Thursday, March 14, at 4:30 p.m. for further discussion. It was noted that public input would be welcomed at that special meeting to be held at the city council room.

"Let's be thoughtful, but also move forward pretty quickly in advertising for the job," suggested Ceil Allen.

"Bobbie was a great asset," shared visitor Dave Huisenga, who was representing the Lanesboro Chamber of Commerce for Julie Charlebois.

Lodging tax

A public hearing was held prior to the regular council meeting for comments on the proposed lodging tax ordinance. The updated language to the ordinance changed as to when operators of inns, bed and breakfasts and hotels, subject to the three percent lodging tax, should make payment to the city.

Instead of quarterly, the city now requires the tax to be paid monthly "and not later than 20 days after the end of the calendar month in which the taxes were collected."

Additional language was also added, which stated, "The establishment of this lodging tax is hereby applied to the City of Lanesboro and any governmental jurisdiction that has contractual obligations with the City of Lanesboro regarding lodging tax."

Past President of the Chamber of Commerce Dave Huisenga thanked the city for allowing the chamber to provide input on the language change.

The changes, he felt, "should be non-controversial. The city relies on this three percent tax." Those funds are used to promote the community and advertise in regional publications.

Sylvan Park

The council discussed the improvement of the Sylvan Park road. Street and Park Superintendent Andy Drake weighed in on the discussion.

The road would most likely need blacktop, but Drake noted they couldn't put new blacktop over the old because it would crack and make it worse. The council considered a quote that included soil boring that would check the kind of soil the road was on and determine a solution from there.

If the city needed blacktop, it was suggested they could try to acquire some when the Highway 16 state road would undergo a mill and overlay. The quote also included a survey for water runoff. Drake said he didn't know why the road needed to be surveyed when the engineering cost would be able to figure out any problems relating to the road.

A landscaping project around the gazebo was discussed as well. A local landscaper would be willing to get a plan together and donate it to city in the future.

Ambulance

Vickerman asked the council to consider hiring a part-time ambulance director who would be able to work a number of hours plus cover times when nobody is on-call.

"There are gaps in our scheduling and the new electronic schedule system shows that," she stated.

The city has continued in trying to find people willing to become certified EMTs and first responders. Vickerman said there are currently two registered nurses taking a short course that will train them to be EMTs. Two others are taking a longer course that will boost the ambulance service numbers, but not completely relieve coverage concerns.

Historic preservation

The council approved the expansion of the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) District that could provide up to 40 percent in tax credits on historically accurate improvements to more businesses in Lanesboro.

The consultant who would determine the eligibility of businesses looking to become part of the HPC District was paid for through $2,500 provided by Public Utilities and a match from the city council. The consultant would then write a nomination to the state and federal registers. If considered eligible and added to those registers, those businesses can apply for a 20 percent tax credit from both the state and the federal government.

Mayor Rahn noted being a part of the HPT District would increase a business' revenue.

Small Cities Grant dispute

The council heard a complaint from local business owner Roger Baker of the Chat 'n Chew about being denied a grant to improve a handicapped entrance and sidewalk to his business. The small cities grant through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), which he spoke of was given to two other businesses in downtown Lanesboro.

Vickerman explained the city had hired the Community and Economic Development Association to conduct the application process, which allowed any business to fill out a survey.

Baker said that his was denied.

Vickerman said DEED had narrowed the pool of applicants down based on requirements they had for the grant. The grant focused on promoting safety and health, but only in the downtown portion of Lanesboro.

Baker said his project was for health and safety and asked why they didn't accept his project. Vickerman said she had no control over what requirements DEED had for who received the grants.

Other business

In other small items, the council handled the following issues.

• Vickerman noted there were some changes in the annual ambulance county contract that pays $4,500 to the city ambulance service. The contract was approved.

• Vickerman noted the request for an extension for bringing the city's water system up to regulation was submitted to the Minnesota Department of Health.

• Lanesboro Farmer's Market organizer Stena Leib asked the council to change the radius around the city from which local vendors can sell in Lanesboro from 20 to 25 miles. She also stated they are looking to change their by-laws to include local arts and crafts with their market. "Many members of the community are looking for more things," she said. She also asked the council to approve four members to the Farmer's Market board and assistance for some permanent in-city signage.