Dassel city council holding off on community ed agreement

Sept. 22, 2008

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

DASSEL, MN – The Dassel City Council put a hold on approving the Dassel-Cokato Community Education joint powers agreement last Monday because city taxpayers would pay twice for the program.

Dassel will pay $7,370, and Cokato will pay $14,630. The school district’s share will be $20,000 for Community Education, according to the agreement updated by the Dassel-Cokato School Board Aug. 28. Taxpayers in the cities would pay twice – once through the city budget, and once as part of the school district.

Township residents enjoy the same benefits from the community education program as residents of the two cities do, said City Administrator Myles McGrath. Yet taxpayers in the townships of Dassel, Cokato, Collinwood, Stockholm, Kingston and French Lake are not expected to fund the program as the cities are.

DC’s Community Education includes Early Childhood Family Education, youth enrichment and recreation, swimming lessons, Charger Kids Club, adult basic education and recreation, and performing arts.

The new agreement appears to make the inequities in funding even worse.

McGrath is “alarmed by the new funding proposal that would cap the amount of responsibility by the school district, and load it directly onto the cities,” he said in a memorandum for the council.

City council members agreed they couldn’t exactly determine the school board’s intent. It appeared the school district as a whole will pay $20,000 annually. The two cities will fund Community Ed on a per capita basis. If the cities grow or the community ed budget grows, Dassel and Cokato will pay an even larger share.

Previously, the agreement stated the school district would contribute 50 percent, and the cities contribute the other 50 percent based on their populations. Eventually, the split will be 45 to 55, McGrath said, and still the township residents will contribute only what they pay in school district taxes.

A more equitable funding method would be to charge all the townships and cities in the school district on a per capita basis, McGrath said.

Council Member Bob Wilde said the school district must first hold an election or referendum before it can raise taxes on township residents. However, he agreed the funding described in the agreement didn’t appear to be equitable.

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” Wilde added.

Also, some of the residents of the townships, especially those who live near the border, have children who attend school in Hutchinson, Litchfield and Kimball. The townships will need to take those residents into account, if the funding is changed to include the entire school district, when they determine their per capita, Wilde said.

The council directed Community Education liaison, City Council Member Bob Lalone, to meet with Cokato officials, and find out what Cokato intends to do with the new agreement.

The school board also changed the membership of the community education advisory council in the agreement, how the Community Ed director may be dismissed, and how often the agreement is subject for review.

Odds and ends

In other business, the city council:

• took complaints from residents in the Todd Street mobile home park who are having their water shut off Tuesday, Sept. 30. Brian Gallup, Randa Hastings and Donald Larson were among the five or six tenants who have paid their water bills out of the nine tenants.

All the tenants of the court will have their water shut off, even if they paid their water bills, because the landlady of the mobile home court has all the mobile homes on one system, and she hasn’t paid her water bill, McGrath said.

McGrath added the city is still trying to find enough valves in the plumbing in the court to shut off water only to the tenants who haven’t paid.

• set an annexation hearing for Monday, Nov. 3, for an ordinance to annex the property of Todd and Anne Marie Horrman. Their property is next to Sellards Park and is completely surrounded by the City of Dassel. They won’t need to hook up to city water and sanitary sewer because their septic system is new, McGrath said.

Mark Hendrickson of Kingston Auto, west of Dassel, also has indicated an interest in having his property annexed by the City of Dassel, Lalone said.

• heard from McGrath that the owners of the old creamery on the south side of Dassel are taking bids to see if the building can be demolished this fall.

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