Department heads provided updates on recent activities for the city of Canton during last Wednesday’s council meeting at the town hall. The mayor, clerk, deputy clerk and public works director brought the councilors up to speed on what has been happening at city hall.
Mayor Josh Nordsving told his fellow council members that he and members of the outgoing city council had been in the process of reviewing city ordinances and policies, and he would like that process to continue into the new year.
As each council member is assigned to a committee, Nordsving said the most efficient way to proceed might be to look at the ordinances that relate to each committee. “If we can go through them and update them as we can, it will get us by until we can do a comprehensive plan,” he added.
Nordsving recommended that each committee review its related ordinances over the next several months so the council can begin reviewing them in April.
In the clerk report, Anne Koliha told the council that the end of the year reporting had been completed and she, too, had been working on the personnel handbook, which will be reviewed in greater detail in the coming months. She has submitted al material for the 2022 audit and had recently contacted the city engineering firm, WHKS, regarding inclusion on the state’s funding priority list. While she was not sure Canton would qualify with its upcoming city utility project, she said she did not want the city to miss out on the opportunity to access federal dollars to offset the costs of that project.
Koliha also mentioned some future projects, including finalizing work for the water service with further discussion to take place at the March meeting. She also said the city needs to update the zoning map for the city as the only one staff could find was from 1975, so her goal is to get that updated and approved.
Deputy Clerk Barb Kerns simply mentioned that about 25% of residents with animals have renewed pet licenses. She thanked them for their response and also reminded those who have not yet renewed licenses, or purchased licenses for new pets, to do so in the coming weeks.
Public Works Director Jon Nordsving reviewed a couple of equipment needs for the city, including the need to consider replacement of the plow truck and sander. He noted that equipment such as this can take about a year and a half to arrive once it is ordered. The current truck has low miles, but has age, he said. It is a 2011 and its age is starting to show through the electronics. The sander has had to be rebuilt a couple of times. “Just keep that in mind,” he told the council.
During the presentation of the 2022 financial report, Koliha pointed out that the city had gone over budget in expenditures as well as revenues. The general fund expenditures totaled $294,3396.39 and the revenues totaled $296,187.09, resulting in a positive balance at the end of the year.
The water fund had a healthy ending balance, while the sewer fund ended the year with a balance of $571.20. The council members discussed the matter and Mayor Nordsving explained that sewer rates had been increased two years ago and it was decided at that time to raise them enough to “break even.” He said the priority was to limit the impact on residential utility bills, but to also get the city “out of the hole.”
Nordsving added, “We didn’t want residents to have a significant hit on their bills but wanted to do enough to get the fund stable and planned to look at rates in the future.”
The council noted the biggest challenge to keeping this fund stable comes from unexpected costs of repairs and upgrading equipment.
The council also reviewed the garbage fund, which had a negative ending balance for 2022. Koliha explained that this was caused mainly by the fuel surcharge added to the billing. Because the city charges the residential users about the same amount charged by the garbage hauler, the city had to assume the additional costs added by the fuel charges.
“This is something we should look at,” said Mayor Nordsving. “The little bit we charge the resident over our charge does not create enough of a cushion to cover those additional fees. We don’t want to make money on the garbage service, but we definitely don’t want to be losing money.”
No action was taken on this matter during the meeting, but the council agreed there is a need to review charges in the future.
In other business, the council reviewed current certificates of deposit (CDs) held at the First Southeast Bank of Canton and considered reinvesting these for longer terms with higher interest rates. When reinvesting, the council opted to reinvest the principal amount with past interest earnings being deposited into the sewer fund.
The council approved the 2023 schedule of fees, adding the cost of chicken licenses at $10 annually. The council also approved publication of the ordinance summary in the Fillmore County Journal.
The council approved adoption of the Minnesota General Records Retention Schedule for Cities. Koliha explained this schedule outlines how long certain records must be kept. “This will help the staff determine which files can be removed,” she said. “Some need to be kept permanently, others six years, others less. We are adopting the entire code suggested by the League of Minnesota Cities.”
Authorized signers for the safe deposit box at First Southeast Bank of Canton was updated to include Mayor Nordsving, Koliha, Kerns and acting mayor Kristy Ziegler.
Upcoming dates to note included the blood drive at the Canton Town Hall from 2-6:30 p.m. on February 13. On Presidents Day, February 20, the city office will be closed. The next regular council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on March 8.