Retiring Police Chief Matt Schultz and incoming Police Chief Blaise Sass made a stop at the Lanesboro City Council meeting on August 5 before heading over to Preston for Sass’s swearing in. “On behalf of the city, thank you for your years of service, Matt,” Mayor Jason Resseman said. Schultz served as Preston’s police chief for 19 years. “I’m grateful for the years of good leadership, and a very good mentor over the last 17 years,” Sass expressed.
A hearing was opened to discuss the sidewalk improvements assessments, but as there were no residents present for it, it was closed and the regular city council meeting was opened.
Council member Autumn Johnson gave the Park Board update. New tables and chairs were recently purchased for the community center as money had been budgeted for the purchase. Johnson informed the council that there are some major issues with the plumbing in the bathhouse that need to be addressed and the wiring at the campground may need updating.
The summer reading program at the Lanesboro Public Library has wrapped up for the year. The library will be applying for a $3,000 grant to install a motorized door in the library to make it accessible for all patrons.
Any money that the Lanesboro Fire Department Relief Association makes from its lawful gambling is put into a City of Lanesboro account. The fund was originally set up to be used for the fire department, but that has changed over the years. “Our goal moving forward is that we’re both (the city and the fire department) very much aware of what the money is being spent on,” City Administrator Michele Peterson said. A resolution to that effect was approved by the council. Currently, the Fire Relief benefit pays $1,200 a year to each retired fireman. They asked the council to increase the amount to $1,450, which will not require any extra funding from the city. The raise was approved.
Areas of sidewalk on Calhoun Avenue, Hillcrest Street, and Parkway Avenue are in need of improvements because of safety concerns. The city will pay 50% of the costs and homeowners will be assessed 50%. The assessments were approved.
Council member Chase Bakke brought up a traffic concern on Parkway Avenue. When pulling onto Parkway from either direction on Coffee Street, it is nearly impossible to see oncoming traffic. He asked if it would be possible to make the intersection more open by removing several corner parking spots, adding that while he is aware of the limited parking in town, safety is more important. The matter was tabled to allow the members of the council to visit the location and consider options.
The city received a notification from the State of Minnesota that updates were needed for the city’s sales tax ordinance. A sample ordinance was provided by the state and reviewed by City Attorney Thomas Manion. The council will review the ordinance and vote on it at the September meeting.
Street Department worker David Haugen noted that several roads in town have developed significant cracks which need to be routered and sealed before winter hits. There is an immediate concern with Rochelle Avenue which is down to the bituminous layer. A bid from Asphalt Armor Sealcoating and Paving in the amount of $23,674.30 was approved for the project, which is less than the $30,000 originally budgeted for it.
The parking issue on Auburn Avenue was discussed again with the consensus of the council being that one-sided parking wasn’t going to solve the problem. It was recommended that a yield sign be placed on Sheridan Street for motorists pulling onto Auburn, and that the curb be painted yellow on the corner from Auburn and Sheridan to prevent people from parking there. The recommendations were approved.
The Lanesboro Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the city encouraging the hiring of a CEDA person. The matter had been discussed by the council before, but tabled for more consideration. “Sometimes we have to spend a little money to make money,” Mayor Resseman said. He has spoken with neighboring communities who utilize CEDA and found the consensus to be that the benefits are exponential. The annual salary for a CEDA representative to work with the city one day every other week would be $12,700. A motion was made and passed to hire someone from the CEDA.
Peterson presented a new pay scale for city employees to the council which needs to be implemented by August 16 to keep Lanesboro compliant with state regulations. She noted that the 2020 budget numbers will reflect the updated pay scale.
The Art Center requested permission to park a tiny house structure in front of the theater from October 8-11. Permission will need to be granted from MnDOT as well as it will be parked on a state highway. The council approved the request.
A resignation from Historical Preservation Commission member Theresa Coleman was accepted and the seat opened for applications.
The Lanesboro Public Utilities requested and received permission to host some work sessions regarding placement and design of the wastewater treatment plant. The sessions will be posted and the public is welcome to come although no action will be taken during them.
Community input sessions have been held for the 15 minutes before council meetings for seven months now as a trial period. They were implemented as a way for residents to voice concerns, ask questions, etc. Mayor Resseman asked the council if they would like to continue the sessions or go back to having a public input time during the regular meeting. Council member Bridget Harvey felt that it would be best to have people go through the regular process of getting on the agenda when they have a problem. Not all of the council members can make it to the meeting early enough for the community input sessions, and there’s a misconception that decisions can be made by the council during the sessions. Johnson pointed out that the sessions create the appearance of a possible violation of open meeting laws. A motion was made and approved to drop the community input sessions.
Council member Johnson is being deployed for nine months, which gives the council the option of leaving her seat vacant during that time or appointing someone to fill it temporarily. “Because she’s serving her country as well as the City of Lanesboro, we should give her the opportunity to fill her seat upon her return,” Mayor Resseman said. The rest of the council agreed that it would be best to hold her seat. “I just wanted to say personally as the mayor, thank you for your service to our county foremost,” Mayor Resseman expressed.
The next Lanesboro city council meeting will be held on September 3 at 6 p.m.