At the January 3 Lanesboro City Council meeting, Jason Resseman was sworn in as returning mayor and Chase Bakke and Mindy Albrecht-Benson were sworn in as returning council members.
The consent agenda was approved and included the accounts payable, the 2022 audit engagement from Smith Schafer, a lodging license for Green Gables Inn, and the Lanesboro Claydusters gambling permit application. Merchants Bank was approved as the official depository for city funds and the Fillmore County Journal as the official newspaper to publish ordinances. Mayor Resseman, City Administrator Michele Peterson and City Clerk Darla Taylor were approved as the authorized signatures for city accounts. The city’s mileage reimbursement rate was set at 68.5 cents per mile. Resolution 2023-8 was approved authorizing Lanesboro to join the Regional Safety Group. Resolution 2023-03 authorizing the Lanesboro Fire Relief Association for lawful gambling was passed, and Chase Bakke, Michele Peterson, and Rob Wagner were appointed as trustees for the association. Rob Wagner was approved as fire chief, Colin Bakke as 1st assistant fire chief, Matt Schnebly as 2nd assistant fire chief, Mark Lawstuen as 3rd assistant fire chief, Jeff Norby as training officer, Bryan Benson as custodian, and Anthony Schwartz as secretary and custodian.
City Engineer Brian Malm presented pay request #25 in the amount of $44,989.62 for the wastewater treatment facility, which represents 89% of the work in the project. The new plant is up and running. Malm also reviewed pay request #5 in the amount of $103,248.61 from Generation X with the council for the street and utility improvements which represents approximately 45% of the work. The council approved both pay requests.
David Haugen updated the council on the work that the Street Department has been doing. He recently rated the roads in town for damage and sent the report to the city engineer. The summer equipment has been cleaned up for the year, and some diseased trees in town were removed. He is working on obtaining bids for the walking bridge project and for the replacement of the shop floor and should have those by February or March.
Michele Peterson reported that she and Darla Taylor have been working on the year-end reporting and are gathering material for the upcoming audit presentation.
Ambulance Director Deb Ristau reviewed the service’s 2022 calls, cash balance, and on-call hours with the council.
The Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting will be held virtually on January 25.
Andy Bunge spoke with the council representing the Cottage House in Lanesboro. He recently found out that the planned sidewalk in front of the retaining wall was eliminated from the 2023 street project for cost saving purposes. “I feel it would be appropriate to reinstate that sidewalk,” he said, citing a number of public safety issues. Council member Joe Goetzke asked if something would need to be cut from the project in order to add the sidewalk back into it. Malm said that if the sidewalk is included, it would be safe to assume that $16,000-$17,000 would need to be added to the total cost of the project. Bunge strongly encouraged the council to do so. “I think it would be appropriate and a good use of funds to just finish that sidewalk,” he commented. The matter was tabled to give Malm time to include options for the sidewalk in the plan for the council to consider.
Joe Deden asked the council for permission to conduct prairie restoration on a parcel of land owned by the city that is adjoining his property. The parcel in question sits directly behind the Welcome to Lanesboro sign on Highway 16. There would be no cost to the city other than project supervision by David Haugen. Deden has done similar work at that location with the city in the past. The request was approved.
The council reviewed the updated administrator/clerk job description. “I feel there’s a strategy section missing… I think that’s an important part of the role,” council member Mindy Albrecht-Benson stated. The council tabled it for further development.
The discussion on the purchase of a used fire truck for the fire department was continued from last month’s meeting. The council had decided to table it as the purchase agreement did not include a definitive date that the truck would be handed over to Lanesboro. City Attorney Joseph O’Koren added a date of September 1, 2024, to the agreement, which the council concurred would be reasonable. If the truck is not delivered by that date, then the agreement would be void and a full refund would be issued. The updated agreement was approved contingent on approval from Fire Safety USA and the Lanesboro Fire Department.
Mindy Albrecht-Benson was appointed as the mayor pro-tempore for 2023.
It was discovered recently that a mistake had been made in sewer billing for a number of accounts, resulting in those accounts being underbilled by about $58,000 over a period of 11 months. Legally, the city can collect those charges, and the Public Utility Commission recommended doing so over a period of time in small increments. The council felt that since it was the city’s mistake, the amount owed should be lowered for the customers. Lanesboro resident Bonita Underbakke commented that it would be worth looking into whether the city’s insurance would help cover the mistake and Peterson agreed to do so. Council member Mitchell Walbridge asked what steps were being taken to ensure that a mistake like that did not happen again. Peterson said that the step of having all figures entered into the program double checked by both office staff members has already been put into place. A motion was approved to collect the owed charges at a lower rate with a 12-month payment plan option, which will go forward if insurance will not cover the cost.
The next Lanesboro City Council meeting will be held on February 6 at 6 p.m.
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