The city of Canton acknowledged a few newcomers at last Wednesday’s Canton City Council meeting. It was the first meeting for new city clerk Anne Koliha, who joined the city on November 30. Also new, sitting in the audience, were recently-elected council members who will take office in January, Jason Magnuson and Jennifer Dowling.
The December council meeting also marked the last meeting for Mayor Cindy Shanks and council member Carl Ernst. Shanks was appointed mayor earlier this year following the resignation of Nick Prestby. Her council seat was filled by Kristy Ziegler, who was also elected for a full term in November. Current councilman Josh Nordsving will be sworn in as mayor in January.
In her final mayoral report, Shanks once again thanked Deputy City Clerk Barb Kerns for “doing a great job” keeping the office running smoothly since the former clerk’s departure. She also welcomed Koliha to the city clerk’s position and thanked city maintenance workers Jon Nordsving and Jim Davis for working on “cleaning up several housekeeping items.”
In the deputy clerk’s report, Kerns thanked the council for hiring Koliha and explained that these first weeks have been spent bringing her up to date on some of the policies and procedures. “Life is good,” Kerns said. “We are working to get caught up and she’s getting acquainted with the people who come into the office.”
Koliha replied that it has been a busy two weeks and is grateful for the guidance and support she has received from her coworkers. She also reported that she is working on all of the year-end financial reports and has been contacted by the city’s auditing firm regarding the city audit, so everything is on track for that.
During the Public Works report, Nordsving stated he and Davis are working on the city “honey-do” list, but anticipates some of those items will be put on hold when more active winter weather arrives.
Also, in reports, Kerns noted that $5,000 was donated to the Canton Fire Department through its annual fund drive. Magnuson, a member of the fire department, stated that he believes this was the most successful fund drive to date. “Every check, no matter the size, is very much appreciated,” Kerns said.
In the final report, Josh Nordsving said he is following up on several building permits that were issued in the last several months, making sure actual construction meets the specifications outlined in the property owners’ applications. So far, he noted, it looks like all setbacks are being met.
Budget, certifying tax levy
The council approved the general fund budget for 2023 at $273,960. The final tax levy for 2023 was set at $169,505, which represents at 3% increase from the 2022 tax levy.
The city also maintains a budget for its proprietary funds. The 2023 water fund budge was certified in the amount of $73,725. The sewer fund budget was certified in the amount of $100,028. Finally, the fire department’s operating budget was set at $23,550.
Fees and charges
During a discussion regarding the schedule of fees and charges for various services, licenses and permits that is adopted each year, Ziegler suggested increasing the rate of $15 an hour for the use of the town hall. Other council members agreed, considering the costs for heating or cooling the building during these events.
The council discussed eliminating the hourly charge and simply charging $100 for half a day and $200 for a full day, however, there are some groups who rent the facility for only a couple hours for baby showers, birthday parties and anniversaries.
The council agreed that those renting the hall should pay from the time they walk in until the time they walk out with the building returned to the condition in which they found it.
The council approved a change in the hourly rate to $20 an hour for the town hall use. The remainder of the fees and charges remained unchanged from 2022.
The ordinance summary was also approved for publication, after which time the new rate will be implemented for 2023.
The council approved voting by mail for the Canton citizens, thus not setting an election polling place for the 2023 state primary and state general election. Canton residents not wishing to vote by mail can cast ballots at the Fillmore County Courthouse on election days.
The draft of the employee handbook, which the city has been discussing over the past few months, has been completed and the council approved submitting it to the city attorney for review.
The council approved authorizing Koliha to sign checks for the city and her signature will be on file at the First Southeast Bank of Canton.
The council granted approval for the Canton Fire Department to apply for a lawful gambling exempt permit for raffles and events to be held in 2023.
A discussion was held regarding fire department equipment being stored in the former bus garage, which is now owned by the city. Councilman Randy Gossman noted that some of it could be sold at a community auction, along with a few pieces of city equipment that is being stored there.
This led to talk about the old fire trucks, both of which need to be repaired. Fire department members present at the meeting noted the department is working on maintaining and upgrading equipment for fire control and does not have extra funds to fix up old trucks for historical preservation. Options for possible grants will be explored.
Gossman also asked about funds being budgeted for upkeep of city-owned buildings. He noted needs at the fire hall and the old bus garage, which included garage door openers, bathroom upgrades and a new roof at the bus garage. He was told the budget includes funds to be allocated for building and maintenance, but this year’s allocation was earmarked for furnace upgrades at the town hall.
Finally, it was noted that the Firemen’s pavilion, built around 14 years ago, will also need some upgrades, including a few new posts and some staining. Gossman also suggested adding roll-down curtains to the sides so the area could be enclosed during inclement weather. If patio warmers were added, events could even be held in the pavilion later in the fall and earlier in the spring.
No action was taken on any of the building discussion items.
The next Canton City Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 11, at the Canton Town Hall.