By Roz Kohls
DASSEL-COKATO, MN Dassel-Cokato Community Education joint powers board decided Sept. 29 to have the school district kick in as much money as the cities of Dassel and Cokato are into the community education program.
This will reduce the inequity that the Dassel City Council alleged in the joint powers agreement Sept. 15 by $2,000, according to Perry Thinesen, community education director.
However, the City of Dassel has not received the amended document as of Thursday, so it is not signed yet, said Myles McGrath, Dassel city administrator.
In the Aug. 28 version of the agreement, Dassel was paying $7,370 annually for its share of the community ed program, Cokato was paying $14,630, and the school district was paying $20,000.
Dassel City Council members held off signing the agreement Sept. 15, because the intent of the joint powers board wasn’t clear to them. It appeared the board had put into the agreement a provision for automatic increases for the two cities, but the district’s share stayed at $20,000, according to a memorandum submitted to the council.
There was no provision in the agreement for automatic increases from the two cities, however. The cities pay according to population in relation to each other, so even if the cities grow, the two cities’ total share stays the same, Thinesen said.
Also, Dassel City Council members believed the townships should share in the cost of the program, because many township residents participate in community education events and activities. DC Community Education includes Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE,) youth enrichment and recreation, swimming lessons, Charger Kids Club, adult basic education and recreation, and performing arts.
Council Member Bob Lalone pointed out Oct. 20 that in 2006, Dassel residents were fourth in the number of participants.
In the summer of 2007, more participants were from Dassel Township than from the City of Dassel, according to the DC Community Education office.
Dassel Mayor Ava Flachmeyer, Lalone and McGrath, Cokato Mayor Bruce Johnson, Cokato Council Member Carl Harju, and Cokato City Administrator Don Levens, Thinesen, School Superintendent Jeff Powers and School Board Member Kevin Dahlman met Sept. 29 to review the agreement and meet as the joint powers board.
The amount the school district will pay was increased to $22,000 to make it equal to what the two cities will pay. Also, the township boards of supervisors in the school district will be asked to have their respective townships participate in DC community ed before March, when the township budgets are finalized, Flachmeyer said Oct. 6.
Flachmeyer added that it was never the intent of the council to withhold money from DC Community Ed and disrupt its programs.
Levens said Thursday that the City of Cokato has not signed the Sept. 29 version of the agreement either, because there is no urgency to do so.