The Spring Grove City Council set the 2014 proposed tax levy on Sept. 3. At $550,000, it is $36,000 higher than the proposed levy set last year.

A proposed levy is often trimmed before final certification (which is due in December), but in general it cannot be increased. Therefore, municipalities typically set the initial "proposed" amount higher than the actual total that will go on property tax rolls. The 2013 levy was proposed at $514,000, then certified at $500,000.

Council members said that they will continue to work on the final budget document. So far, no dollar amount has been set for Spring Grove EDA funding.

Earlier in the meeting, some of the nearly two

dozen citizens in attendance questioned whether cuts would be made to the Spring Grove Public Library budget. Some held placards in favor of the SGPL. Members went on record as being in favor of leaving the library budget at the same level as 2013 ($103,319). Council member Nancy Nelson added that the 2013 budget included $11,000 in pass-through SELCO funding for the library, which she said should have been kept separate from the levied amount.

The levy resolution anticipates Local Government Aid of $411,372, which Nelson said is approximately $43,000 higher than the 2013 amount.

A truth in taxation hearing was set for Dec 3 at 6:30 p.m.

Highway 44/Main Street news

Mayor Bruce Poole reported that several areas of wet clay soils are challenging road builders working on Main Street. One particular section near the school has been dug up so that it can dry out, he added.

Poole said that the underlying roadbed needs to reach a certain level of compaction before the first layer of paving can occur. The asphalt plant that will feed the process has not yet been set up, he added.

Nelson later added some information on the project. Changes/deletions have so far reduced project costs enough that change orders have balanced out. That means that contingency funding remains intact to-date. The rural portions of Highway 44 will begin the mill/overlay process on Sept. 23, after which pilot cars between Spring Grove and Highway 53 can be anticipated. The contractor reported that bad weather has caused a delay of about one month, so work will continue on some parts of the project within the city limits until November. Light poles are now being fabricated. With so many uncertainties remaining, (such as soils yet to be excavated), no exact date for completion has been offered by planners.

Public hearing set

Following a report by Councilman Robert Vogel, who is also a member of the Planning Commission, the council voted to hold a public hearing Oct. 1 on a proposed new cell phone tower to be located within the Spring Grove city limits.

Vogel said that applicants have been working with the planning commission on the details of the project, which would result in a tower 175 feet tall. "The concerns that have been raised have all been about aesthetics," he added. The next meeting of the planning commission will be Sept. 25, which should result in a recommendation for council members on the permit.

"We've asked for two pieces of information from the company that is handling the real estate part of the transaction," Vogel said. "We want a much more detailed site plan that shows where their tower is going to go in relation to other things. The other is essentially a 'photo shopped' set of views of what the tower would look like... There is a division of opinion on the Planning Commission. One hundred seventy five feet is about twice the height of the water tower."

The company is looking at next spring for construction, Vogel reported. The land is owned by Farmers Elevator Co-op, and is near to where a demolition permit allowed the removal of a house on the property last year.

"We finally worked out where it would fit on the zoning map," Vogel said. "It is actually just barely on the boundary between the public zoning district where it's allowed, and the commercial zoning district where it's not."

Property owners within 300 feet of the site will be notified prior to the public hearing.

Golf cart ordinance brings vote

After consulting with city attorney Joe Hammell on a proposal from Chief of Police Paul Folz, the council approved the following amendment to city ordinances:

"No one under the age of 16 years old may operate a special vehicle in the City of Spring Grove. However, a person 12 years of age, but less than 16 years, may operate a special vehicle on a city street, if such person possesses a valid all-terrain safety certificate, issued by the State of Minnesota commissioner of public safety and is accompanied by a person 18 years of age or older who holds a valid driver's license."

Folz stated in a letter to the council that the matter had come up after complaints about youngsters driving golf carts on city streets.

Swim Center lawsuit

After discussing wage issues relating to fired pool management company USA Pools, members voted to offer lifeguards a $100 bonus each to make up for a 40 cent per hour bonus that the company did not pay. Two managers will receive $200 each.

By consensus, the council directed Hammell to proceed with legal action against the company on a number of unresolved monetary issues.

Other news

The council voted to apply as a "host city" for a bicycling tour to be held around the state next August. "Bicycling Around Minnesota" would require space for riders to park 200 cars for four days while they ride local "loops." The organization requires little in the form of facilities, since they bring in their own shower trucks, members noted. While some riders could be expected to camp, others would likely utilize hotels, a letter from the group states.

Another vote will allow Angela Halverson to read her own electric meter. Halverson stated that an incident between a city employee and a dog led to the request.

The council also voted to permit Banyon Data Systems to train city office staff on accounting software the company provides for city workstations. The training will cost $400 per day plus travel expenses. "I just think there's a lot we can do with it that we're not doing because we don't know how," council member Lorilyn Dehning stated.

Following a closed session to discuss "personnel matters," the council voted to terminate the employment of Theresa Dreier at The Corner Store, where she served as a part-time bartender.