Spring Valley will now be part of a growing number of cities in Minnesota allowing chickens to be raised within the city limits.

On March 25, the City Council held a public hearing to discuss the proposed chicken ordinance. Several members of the community came to voice their questions and concerns before the council members.

Pam Freet, a member of Hometown Pride, stated there was confusion between the distance of 150 feet listed under the permit section and the 50 feet under the chicken coop and run section.

City Administrator Deb Zimmer answered, "If your property line is 150 feet or more from the nearest residential neighbor then you would not need to receive approval from the neighbors. But if your property is less than 150 feet in order to receive approval you must first get written permission from your neighbors." In either case the chicken coop and run must be located at least 50 feet from any residential building.

Zimmer added that as of right now the permit price for the coop would be the same as the dog and cat licenses, which are $10. The permit will allow no more than five hen chickens or one chicken per 1,800 square feet of the lot size. Roosters will be prohibited. A copy of the ordinance can be found on the city's website, www.springvalley.govoffice.com.

The Hometown Pride group first requested the ordinance for review in February. They see many benefits to raising chickens, including controlling where one's food comes from, having fresh eggs, and the ability to skip the high prices of organic eggs and chicken. At the end of the public hearing Freet thanked the council members for their quick work on reviewing and preparing the proposal.

The council unanimously voted to approve the ordinance during the regular meeting, which was held immediately following the hearing.

In other business at the meeting, Tom Wente of Smith Schafer presented the 2012 audit, which he described as much the same as 2011, to the council.

General governmental expenditures, which include mayor and council, elections, administration and finance, legal, employee safety, planning and zoning, and municipal building, were $202,638. Wente explained this is only a $12,313 increase from 2011 saying this is "pretty amazing" especially since Spring Valley has held the rate of expenditures relatively steady since 2007 when it was $197,185.

Other city expenditures include public safety, $324,314; public works, $452,519; parks, $192,670; library, $31,478 they also received $44,741 in county aid, community and economic development, $168,105.

The general property tax levy represented 36 percent of total governmental revenues in 2012 while local government aid (LGA) represented 31 percent. The tax collections totaled $892,543. The market value credit was eliminated last year.

The unassigned fund balance in 2012 was $1,203,302, or 120 percent of the total expenditures of $1,022,770. Wente suggested the balance be moved to the capital improvement fund, which now totals $754,090. The library fund has a balance of $134,396 and operated at a deficit of $9,665. The balance for the park fund is at $906 and operated at a deficit of $807 last year.

The audit pointed out that all debt service funds are being adequately funded and al outstanding bonds are being paid on a timely basis. Also, revenues in the city's five utilities are generally keeping pace with rising operating expenses, servicing debt requirements and developing needed reserves for future capital projects, although the water fund exhausted its cash reserves in 2012.

The council approved the 2012 audit.

Other business:

• The Sportsmen's Club raffle was approved.

• According to Mayor Jim Struzyk, members of the community have been asking to have the potholes filled. City maintenance superintendent Chad Hindt explained the holes cannot be filled until the weather gets warmer as the filler will not properly stick in cold weather. They are hoping the weather allows them to work on the issue by the second week in April.

• Ambulance director Jim Cooper told the board they are still in need of first responders and are seeking local volunteers.

• The next meeting will be held April 8 starting at 6 p.m.