By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Representatives from some Lester Prairie service organizations attended Tuesday’s city council meeting to express concerns related to a discussion about the city hall rental policy.
To allay some of these concerns, the council clarified specifically what was being discussed.
The conversation is not about regular meetings of groups, such as the Lester Prairie Lions, Mayor Eric Angvall noted.
It is also not about use of city hall for things such as lunches for the Lester Prairie Youth Task Force.
What is being discussed is the city’s policy for rental of city hall for benefits and fundraisers.
Council Member Bob Messer noted the city has been very inconsistent in what it charges for these events.
The council has not yet defined what constitutes a benefit or a fundraiser, but City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk offered some general observations.
A benefit is usually for one specific person, Pawelk noted, such as a benefit to help cover medical expenses for an individual.
A fundraiser on the other hand, may be intended to raise money for an organization, and proceeds may be distributed to multiple causes.
The council may define these more as it updates the rental policy.
Currently, the fees include a $300 refundable damage deposit and a $150 daily rental fee, Messer said.
However, not everyone is paying a damage deposit, and not everyone is paying the fee.
Messer said he would like to see the city charge the damage deposit for everyone who rents the hall for benefits or fundraisers.
Messer also noted he would like to see the city reclaim the cost of additional cleaning needed after these events.
Council Member Tim Dahl said it is still not clear who qualifies for what. He said he would like to see a written document explaining the policy.
Angvall said a written policy would avoid the need to discuss the matter every time a rental request is received.
Lion Chip Hentges said the organization is looking at organizing future events for the community, including activities for senior citizens. He said this is something the Lions and the city should do as a team to help the community.
The council discussed identifying the cost of cleaning after events (in addition to the normal cleaning).
Dahl noted the cost of cleaning is paid by taxpayers.
Angvall reiterated that the intention of the fees is to cover costs, not to make a profit.
The council directed Dahl and Messer to prepare a written proposal for the rental policy, to be reviewed during the Tuesday, April 11 council meeting.
Dahl said he believes the council will be able to come up with a policy that will be a win-win for all city residents.
Compost site opening
The city compost site will open (weather permitting) Saturdays, April 8, 15, 22, and 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The site will open (weather permitting) May through September, Mondays and Thursdays, 4 to 8 p.m., and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The site will be closed Monday, May 29, Tuesday, July 4, Saturday, July 15, and Monday, Sept. 4.
Pool rate changes
The council approved proposed changes related to the city pool
Pool passes will cost $50 for the first person on the pass and $40 for each additional person (last year, the cost was $40 for the first person and $30 for each additional).
Daily admission remains the same as last year; $4 ages 5 and older; $1 ages 4 and younger.
Private swimming lessons increased $5 to $70. Group classes remain at $40.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved bids from Litzau Excavating for Prairie Ridge drainage improvements at a cost of $19,927.
• approved cost adjustments to the city’s maintenance agreement with PeopleService. The city’s maximum annual maintenance expenditure will increase from $6,734 to $6,875; the monthly compensation will increase from $12,914 to $13,185; and the base amount will increase from $7,071 to $7,219.
• approved a proposal directing city engineers Bolton & Menk to prepare a pavement management plan for the city’s nine miles of streets at an estimated cost of $10,000.
• approved a request to allow the Dodge House to conduct a Freedom Fest event on a vote of 4-1, with Angvall, Messer, and council members Larry Hoof and Ron Foust in favor, and Dahl opposed.
• heard an update from Melissa Williams regarding the plans for the Prairie Days festival in July and approved plans presented so far.
• approved the purchase of a mower at a cost of $6,400 after trade-in.