By Lynda Jensen
DASSEL, MN The Dassel City Council adopted a 0 percent levy increase at its last Monday, which reflected the same levy as last year at $511,988, as well as a 0 percent increase in staff wages for 2010.
The 0 percent increase in staff wages more or less represents a wage freeze, but not a hiring freeze, it was noted.
The personnel committee, which includes council members Jason Benzing and Bob Lalone, recommended a 0 percent increase for staff.
City Administrator Myles McGrath said that most residents have received their property tax statements by now, and that the city portion of the tax bill should reflect a number that is going down. The other entities the school and county may have changed, but the portion that didn’t should be low, he said.
McGrath noted that the tax base has actually been steadily growing over the past few years.
Regarding budget matters, the council decided to hold the line on expenses, holding off temporarily on improvements to the liquor store until the city knows how much of its local government aid (LGA) may be cut, as well as tabling a request by Dave Scepaniak of public works for replacement of a rarely used snow removal blade that goes on a front end loader, for a cost to the city of about $7,000.
Scepaniak said that the blade is like new, since it hasn’t been used much, and was bought in 2004. It is worth about $22,000, and has a trade-in value of $15,000.
Scepaniak listed it for sale online during the past year, but didn’t receive any bites.
Mayor Mike Scanlon wondered how much the city would be cut for LGA. “The word is that the governor will target communities that have reserve balances, punishing those who have been responsible for finances,” Scanlon said.
An LGA payment to the city is expected this month, and may be cut at the discretion of the governor; or payments may be cut next year.
Smithsonian exhibit moves on
The council heard from Museum Director Carolyn Holje, who said the Smithsonian exhibit has been packed up into 15 crates, and sent to Zumbrota. About 2,200 people saw the exhibit.
“We considered it a great success,” she said. Everyone marveled at the beautiful building, she added. The city is renting the facility to many people, she said.
Turning to other subjects, Holje also noted that Jon Benson is helping to coordinate a spring production of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” which will be a collaboration of Community Ed, the DC Arts Association, and the historical society.
The museum was awarded a $7,000 grant from 3M, with the help of Tim Juntenen. It also received $500 from the Dassel Chamber.
As a final note, Holje said the historical society was looking at an assessment of the old creamery building, to see if it could be rehabilitated. It is possible a grant from the Land and Legacy Amendment could be obtained.
Odds and ends
In other subjects, the council
• decided to look into updating the employee handbook.
• heard from Deputy Gordy Prochaska that the juvenile problems have been greatly reduced with the apprehension of a few suspects recently. He noted that people should be locking their cars even if they are parked inside locked garages.
• Prochaska also noted that warnings have been issued for on-street parking in relation to snow removal, and that tickets may be issued after the snow falls.
• budgeted $2,000 for the EDA to use for funds. The entity had nothing to work with since being reformulated recently.
• tabled a possible update for the ordinance that pertains to clearing snow. Benzing pointed out that an ordinance that doesn’t have teeth in it doesn’t work very well.
• Also regarding snow removal, Scanlon asked Scepaniak why a Bobcat or brush attachment wasn’t used to remove sidewalk snow. Scepaniak said that the width of the brush and bucket was too wide.
Cokato and other towns use Bobcats and brushes to remove sidewalk snow.
• set a special meeting for Thursday to discuss the conversion of city services to 800 mhz radios, which is a new government mandate to organize bandwith and frequencies better. See separate story.