By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN Following newly appointed council member Jack Adam’s oath of office, last Tuesday’s Dassel City Council meeting became somewhat contentious regarding the city’s new logo.
Elisabeth Schmieg, who maintains the city’s website, cable channel programming, and other tasks for the city, shared concerns with the council on the newly adopted policy on the acceptable usage of the new Dassel logo.
Schmieg told the council she hadn’t been aware of the usage policy until last month when she was asked to make changes to a brochure for the city of Dassel.
Her main concerns were on the limitations the policy was placing on city organizations and committees using the logo in the future for promotional materials. The policy, as is, was “over and above what the city needs to do,” Schmieg told the council.
For example, the requirement that the rooster must be a specific Pantone color would restrict the city from printing its own materials. The city would need to use a professional printer to get that color making printing jobs more costly.
Council Member Jason Benzing, who was instrumental in creating the usage policy, told Schmieg the Pantone color was simply a “target” color. “How else would you specify the color?” he asked.
Schmieg also pointed out that the city’s former logo is no longer acceptable for business cards, letterheads, Red Rooster mugs, etc.
Benzing noted these items will have to be changed as time goes on to include the new logo.
Ease of use was another concern for Schmieg. She suspects the restrictive policy will hinder committees and organizations from using the logo at all.
Some of the areas that the policy deems as illegal use, Schmieg found to be unnecessary and limiting creativity.
It was suggested that if a committee wants to use the logo in a different way, it should come to the council for approval. Schmieg told the council that the policy could be more relaxed so that one doesn’t have to come to the council every time they want to use the logo.
Dassel business owner and Bob Wilde shared comments regarding the logo, as well.
When the new tower was being painted, Wilde shared how the logo had to be changed because it would have been too difficult and too costly to paint.
Benzing pointed out that these were all questions the branding committee was asking at the beginning of the process. Schmieg noted earlier that she was informed of only two of those meetings.
Mayor Mike Scanlon told them that the council would think about the concerns before the next meeting to “make sure the road we are walking down is the right one.”
Xcel franchise fee concerns and discussion
In the past few meetings, the council has been discussing whether or not language should be added to the 15-year Xcel franchise agreement allowing the council the option to tack on a franchise fee in the future.
Resident Missy Johnson shared her concerns regarding the fee, explaining that all the little fees and increases add up, including the recent increase to water rates, particularly for the elderly and the many residents who are unemployed.
Johnson told the council that the cost of living in Dassel is high and will hinder people from moving into town.
With the agreement still in the works, the council discussed whether or not to add language giving future council’s the option to impose a fee.
City Administrator Myles McGrath noted that at past meetings, Benzing suggested that the language be removed completely since the city has the right to levy if it needs additional revenue. McGrath commented that in the past, the state has eliminated the city’s ability to levy.
Benzing said that his concern was that a future council member will decide that the city needs decorative flower pots and the way to purchase them would be by imposing the franchise fee.
Council Member Adams said that either way, the city needs to be consistent throughout since its residents are also supplied by Meeker Cooperative.
Benzing made a motion to continue the franchise agreement without language that would allow the city to place a user fee onto residents’ bills.
The motion died for lack of a second, and will be brought up again at the next meeting.
New clerk hired, open house for retiring deputy clerk
During a special council meeting, three members of the council interviewed three finalists for the clerk/treasurer position who were recommended by the personnel committee. Present at the special meeting were council members Jason Benzing and Wayne Medcraft, Mayor Scanlon, and McGrath.
A decision was made to hire Terri Boese of Ely at an annual salary of $50,000.
It was noted in the meeting minutes that Scanlon was concerned this would add further burdens to the city budget. Therefore, conversation took place on the idea to transition three full-time staff down to 2.5, with McGrath going down to part time, and eventually eliminating the administrator position all together by January 2013.
During the approval of minutes, Council Member Bob Lalone expressed concern regarding this transition and elimination, stating it should’ve been brought to the personnel committee for discussion before it was acted on.
Since the item was not on the agenda for discussion, the motion could not be rescinded and will be placed on the agenda for the next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17.
The council was also informed that an open house has been set for retiring deputy clerk Sherrie Bjork Friday, Jan. 27 from 3 to 5 p.m. at city hall.
Dassel History Center Director Carolyn Holje told the council there was an opportunity to apply for a grant to purchase staging for the community room, but that matching funds would be needed.
The council had talked about purchasing staging to make the community room more attractive for wedding parties and other events.
The total cost of the equipment is $12,252, and the grant, through Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council, requires a secured match of $4,323.
The Dassel-Cokato Arts Association has designated $1,200 to $1,500, and the Dassel Area Historical Society has committed up to $1,500.
In addition, the city approved a contribution up to $1,500 from its discretionary fund to be used if the grant is successful.
Marv Vetsch, liquor store manager, reported to the council that December sales were strong and the store had a 5 percent growth over last year on a monthly basis. “All things considered, it’s been a great year,” Vetsch said.
Deputy Gordy Prochaska reported 85 calls for December, above the average of roughly 70 calls. The majority of calls were related to ordinance violations for snow.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• scheduled a special meeting for Monday, Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. to discuss future capital projects with the city engineer, and a workshop to discuss goals and objectives for the coming year.
• approved the purchase of a new laptop and monitor for the new clerk/treasurer, not to exceed $1,800. The current computer in the deputy clerk’s office will be used to upgrade the water treatment plant operation.
• approved resolutions for 2012 bookkeeping including designating the local newspaper and depositories, mayoral appointments, citizen and staff committee appointments, city assessor and building inspector, and council assignments.
The only changes were appointing new council member Jack Adams to the planning commission and Red Rooster Days committee. He was also assigned to parks and recreation.