By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN If about $20,000 in private donations are raised, a lighted water fountain could add a new dimension to Winsted Lake.
According to a memo from the city, adding a fountain near Mill Reserve Park has been discussed for several years. The reason would be two-fold to serve as a centerpiece for the park, and to help aerate the lake.
The fountain installation will not be paid for by taxes, but will instead be the result of business or individual contributions.
The first donation, $5,000 from Security Bank and Trust in Winsted, was accepted at Tuesday’s Winsted City Council meeting.
Anyone interested in learning more about the project or donating can contact Council Member Tom Ollig at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next year’s budget
Another part of Tuesday’s meeting was the 2017 truth-in-taxation public hearing. The final budget and property tax levy will be approved at the Tuesday, Dec. 20 meeting.
The 2017 property tax levy will be $1,213,855, a 4.99-percent increase compared to last year.
Due to an increase in net tax capacity, Winsted’s tax rate will be about 73 percent, the lowest it has been in seven years. Therefore, if a home price stayed constant, the owner would pay less city tax than in the past.
However, home prices on average have risen in Winsted. For 2016 taxes, the median home value in Winsted was estimated at $138,403. In 2017, the estimated median home value is $157,236, which means an increase of about $6.67 per month for the average homeowner’s city taxes.
At Tuesday’s work session prior to the regular meeting, the council discussed a recommendation to hire an assistant to the city administrator. This position is being considered due to the resignation of former clerk/treasurer Deb Boelter in June.
After Boelter’s resignation, Deputy City Clerk Raquel Kirkhoff was promoted to the clerk/treasurer position, and utility billing/payroll clerk Amanda Zeidler was promoted to deputy city clerk.
This left a vacancy in the utility billing/payroll clerk position. Rather than hire someone to fill this spot right away, city staff opted to delay hiring to examine job duties and see if changes could be made to improve effectiveness/efficiency.
In a memo to the council, City Administrator Dan Tienter noted that an assistant position would fit the city’s needs better than a utility billing/payroll clerk at this time. The new position would still perform many of the duties of the previous position, but would provide more direct support to the city administrator. Payroll and insurance responsibilities would be transferred to the deputy city clerk.
The minimum qualifications for the position are an associate’s degree in political science, public administration, business administration, urban planning, or a related field, along with a demonstrated interest in local government, such as previous employment or internship with a city or county government. A bachelor’s or master’s degree is preferred.
Tienter said the job will likely be posted in January, with hiring in late February or early March.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers of city hall to consider adopting amendments to the fee schedule ordinance.
• appointed Robert Hamilton to the economic development authority (EDA) with a four-year term, expiring Dec. 31, 2020. Joe Swanson was appointed to the EDA with a two-year term, expiring Dec. 31, 2018.
• accepted an award from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety-State Fire Marshal of $8,176, with a local match requirement of $908, for the purchase of a gear washer/extractor for the Winsted Volunteer Fire Department.
• heard that conference opportunities are available in January for newly-elected council members. Mayor Steve Stotko said he attended years ago when he was first elected, and it was very informative.
• heard that a reception will take place after the new year for retiring Council Member Bonnie Quast. The time and date has not yet been determined.
• heard that the Dec. 1 special council meeting for Tetra Pak was cancelled because the company decided to wait until spring to begin its construction project.