Outgoing Mayor Don Hainlen thanked council members and staff in his last Chatfield City Council meeting on March 25.

"It's been a delight to me to be the mayor of the city of Chatfield," Hainlen stated.

He shared that the future for Chatfield is looking very bright and that some things are already occurring that will improve Chatfield's future.

"I'm enthusiastic and optimistic about what will take place here."

Hainlen recalled when he first put in his two dollars to run for mayor, while not expecting to take office. Having been the school superintendent prior to becoming mayor, Hainlen said he was surprised, at the time, at how many of the relationships carried over to the mayoral position.

He reminded the council of the role they played in getting a new elementary school built. He wished the council the best.

"I anticipate coming back to visit and seeing the great things that are happening," Hainlen added.

After his statement, Clerk Joel Young mentioned that working on the many projects throughout the years wasn't always simple, but that they had always worked through things.

Young then administered the oath of office to Russ Smith, who then took the mayor's seat. In his first act as mayor of Chatfield, Smith presented Hainlen with a plaque, thanking him for his years of service as school superintendent and mayor of Chatfield.

"You've been a shining example for people to follow and for service to the public," shared Smith.

Smith then addressed the vacant council position and open vice-mayor position. Young said the transition period has normally been quick. He explained residents should be allowed to let the council members know if they would like to serve. Smith said there would probably be a pool of people in other city committees that would have the experience and qualities needed for the position.

Robert Pederson said the search process shouldn't last until May. "The more people know about this, the better," he said.

Council member Paul Novotny expressed his concern that nobody would step up. Smith clarified that the person selected would not begin a new term, but finish out the two left on the current term.

Council member Dave Frank said he thought anybody who is interested in filling the vacancy should make contacts with every current council member. He also said that members of the public who are in support of a certain person, should get in contact with the council as well.

"That way, it is more like an election instead of us just deciding who we want," Frank said. "I think it's better for our decision making."

Smith said he felt the city had shown its trust in their decision making when they first elected them. "Maybe we are making a mountain out of a molehill here," he said.

Young also suggested that the council fill the vice-mayor position as soon as possible.

Clerk's report

In his report, Young let the board know that he and Pederson had spent two days testifying to the Minnesota State Legislature on the Chatfield Arts Center.

Specifically, they talked with the Department of Employment and Economic Development along with several legislators about funding for the creation of the County Road 10 Industrial Park.

Young presented a resolution for the council to approve a new formula that would calculate local government aid (LGA) to the city. He mentioned that Gov. Mark Dayton had proposed a new formula that wasn't received well. The alternative was an LGA formula developed by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, Metro Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, which would increase state funding for LGA by $80 million and takes into account inflation and population growth.

"It would really work well for the city and the state of Minnesota," Young said, recommending the council send letters of support to the Legislature. One would be with five other area cities and another from the city itself.

Current law, Young pointed out, would cause the city to lose money in 2014 from LGA. "There will also be more consistency with funding in the years to come."

Baseball field proposal

Frank reported on a committee meeting with Chatfield Schools. The school is looking to expand the softball field at Mill Creek Park to be able to use it for baseball events. In order to make the change, the sand volleyball courts would have to be moved, the cost of which would be absorbed by the school.

Frank said the planning is still in the early stages and the school would get cost estimates back to the council in the future.

Tourism staffing

Frank also brought up whether the city should staff the tourism center. It is currently run by volunteers, but with a declining number of them who are willing to run it. The city has also seen a steady decline of visitors to the center.

"People are more likely to Google everything," explained Frank.

Destination Medical Center

Hainlen introduced two resolutions to the council concerning the Destination Medical Center (DMC). Hainlen said that state legislators had asked cities surrounding Rochester to send letters of support showing how the DMC would benefit their cities.

The Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities also drafted a resolution that stated how their cities would benefit from the development in Rochester.

The council unanimously passed both resolutions.

Other business

The council accepted the resignation from Steve Horsman who will be retiring April 26. City Superintendent Tony Lammers said the city would be losing a good man and great small engine worker. Horsman had worked for the city for 11 years. The council subsequently accepted a request to advertise the position.

Hainlen gave a statement that declared April 26 as Arbor Day in Chatfield.

Pederson congratulated Daryl Haner and the staff at the Wastewater Treatment Plant for receiving an award on meeting all the treatment standards for the past year.