At its regularly scheduled September 11 meeting, the Caledonia City Council approved Tree Huggers Cannabis MN LLC request for a retail permit to sell cannabinoid products.
City Clerk/Administrator Jake Dickson explained that manager Brent Welch plans to open the dispensary in the former Dairy Queen building at 603 Esch Dr., Caledonia by November. Dickson and councilman Ryan Stenzel both confirmed that the building is around 900 feet from the school, which is well over the 500 feet requirement.
Mayor DeWayne (Tank) Schroeder called the September meeting to order at 6 p.m. Schroeder led his colleagues and the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. The council approved both the meeting agenda and the minutes from the August 28 council meeting as written.
Council members in attendance included Robert (Bob) Klug, Amanda Ninneman, Mayor DeWayne (Tank) Schroeder, David Fitzpatrick and Ryan Stenzel.
The council unanimously approved the consent agenda as presented including payments and disbursements, land use permits at 314 W. Lincoln St. to tear down the home and create a gravel parking lot, payment for work performed at the wastewater treatment plant in the amount of $283,835.14, and payment for work performed on the Grove Marshall Street and utility reconstruction project in the amount of $286,081.74.
Finance Officer Stephanie Mann presented the first round of the city’s 2024 budget. The council was presented with three proposed 2024 tax levy increases, 8.9%, 8.0% and 7.5%, and budget implications. The per capita amounts to the proposed tax levies are $431.13, $427.57 and $423.62. Mann noted that Caledonia’s per capita amounts are low compared to surrounding communities. She explained that the council needs to set the proposed levy at the September 21 council meeting as it is due to the county by September 30. The council can always lower the levy, but it cannot be raised after it is submitted to the county. Mann reviewed the revenue, expenses, and capital purchases, adding that there are “lots of unknowns at this time.” The council will be holding a special budget meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, September 18.
The council approved hiring Zach Keesey as a police officer effective September 12. Dickson explained that the city received four applications and that two members of the council interviewed Keesey. Keesey recently worked for the Rock County Sheriff’s Department and has over two years of experience in law enforcement. He will start at step 2 on the LELS police union contract. According to the staff report, Keesey is replacing an officer at the top of the pay scale; thus, reducing the budget impact.
In other business, the council:
• Unanimously approved the county’s request to sell the forfeited property at 916 Main St. E. at public auction. The council agreed that getting the property back on the tax roll was a priority.
• Reviewed the overtime reports for the period from August 21 through September 3. No action is required.
• Adjourned the meeting at 7:03 p.m.
The next meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. on Monday, September 25 at the Caledonia city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.