The scheduled rate increases should put city on track for 2013
By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN During last Monday’s meeting, the Dassel City Council was given an update on this year’s rate increases for sewer and water.
Engineer Chuck DeWolf suggested the city continue with the water and sewer rate increases approved in 2009, that will eventually make up for the continued revenue shortfall.
Rate increases went into effect last January and were based on a three-year plan.
Despite the rate increase, there is a projected shortfall of about $155,000 for the 2010 budget, shrinking the fund balances by more than $130,000.
Administrator Myles McGrath told the council that the projected usage rates are coming in correct and the rate increases each year should put the city in line to meet cash flow needs by 2013.
DeWolf suggested the council continue with the rate increases ($2.55 base rate for water and $1 base rate for sewer) and continue to monitor the usage.
No action was taken by the council; the update was only for review as the council moves toward adopting utility rates and the enterprise fund budget for 2011.
‘Best of 12’ marketing
Mayor Mike Scanlon reported on a meeting with representatives from the “Best of 12,” a collaboration among the cities along Highway 12 from Delano to Dassel promoting and marketing events and businesses along the corridor.
To fund a preliminary budget for such things as advertising, each town is suggested to contribute a $1,000-base plus a per capita rate. For Dassel, the suggested contribution would be $1,500. McGrath told the council this money would come out of the discretionary fund meant for marketing of the city.
Scanlon told the council that the Best of 12 is in the planning stages, but an agreement with each city is being formulated and will likely be presented to the council before the end of the year.
Budget discussion continues
Though the proposed budget was approved at the Sept. 7 meeting, the council will continue budget discussion at a special meeting planned for today (Monday).
Because the levy for 2011 was approved, the budget can not be raised, only lowered.
Scanlon told the council his concerns in the budget were with the increase in health care costs and the decreased revenue from local government aid, noting that the amount will still be shy of what it was in the past.
Council member Jason Benzing said he would like to see the budget cut down, but that his ideas “get stonewalled” in the process.
Benzing said that the council is “outside looking in” and McGrath and Public Works Director Dave Scepaniak have the best knowledge of “how everything is working together.”
He suggested there be some incentive for the department heads in reducing their budget.
Scanlon told Benzing that the “wheels of government grind slowly” and “it takes time to make things happen.”
Scanlon noted that the city was in “relatively good financial shape,” but council would use the meeting time to adjust some things and look long-term at “what’s going on with the budget.”
In addition, Scanlon noted equipment needs for public works that were presented to the council including replacement of two lawn mowers and a dump truck/snowplow.
“He’s got the money in the account to do it,” Scanlon said.
Benzing wanted to know if this was equipment that really needs to be replaced.
To answer such questions for the council, Scepaniak will be asked to attend the workshop along with McGrath.
Odds and ends
In other matters, the council:
• approved a negotiation team of the council consisting of Scanlon, McGrath, and council member Bob Lalone.
The team will represent the city for contract negotiations among the city employee-formed union.
Though there are no plans for raising salaries since there wasn’t an increase to the levy, Scanlon suggested a team be in place.
The team will be reassessed at the end of the year when there is a new council.
• was reminded of the candidate forum set for Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers.
The forum is sponsored by the Enterprise Dispatch and hosted by the City of Dassel.
For voters unable to attend the event, it will be televised and the video streamed online at the city’s website, www.ci.dassel.mn.us.
• heard from Dassel Chamber of Commerce vice president Wayne Medcraft who informed the council of the chamber’s new officers (Bob Wilde, president; Medcraft, vice president; and Charity Sanden, treasurer).
Medcraft said the chamber would like to work closely with the city and asked for the council’s support of the farmers market.