The Lanesboro City Council met for their regular meeting on March 7 at 6 p.m. The consent agenda was approved and included accounts payable, Resolution 2022-19 reestablishing precincts and polling locations, and a temporary liquor license for the fire department as well as a gambling permit, parade permit, and temporary liquor license for Buffalo Bill Days.
At the February meeting, a Lanesboro resident expressed surprise that there was no time set aside for public comment during the city council meeting. At the March meeting, Mayor Jason Resseman noted that for a while, public comment was accepted during a time frame before the meeting started, but they weren’t well attended by council members and if they had been, it could have broken open forum laws. He felt that there is value in having a public comment session though and proposed bringing it back with some changes. He suggested having a time limit on speakers who would each get one opportunity to speak. Zoom attendees could participate as long as they had their video feed on. The sessions would be part of the meeting rather than being held before it opened and could take place towards the middle of the agenda. Topics that were brought up during public comment wouldn’t be put on that evening’s agenda, but if necessary, added to the next month’s meeting to give council members time to prepare for the discussion. Mayor Resseman noted that he would also like to see all Lanesboro commissions add a similar public comment portion to their meetings. Council member Chase Bakke recommended having it at the beginning of each meeting so that the council could hear comments on that evening’s agenda discussing them themselves. A motion was approved adding a public comment section to the beginning of each council meeting starting in April with two minutes of speaking time per person, including those on Zoom who have their video feed turned on.
The city engineer recommended that the council approve pay request #15 for the wastewater treatment facility project which they did.
Colin Bakke from the Lanesboro Fire Department asked the council for permission to close down a block of Coffee Street for the department’s annual Buffalo Bill Days street dance. Council member Mindy Albrecht-Benson asked if it could be held in its usual location is in front of the EMS building instead. Bakke said that due to the fact that they don’t own that building anymore and that the street may be under construction at that time, it wouldn’t work well. He will have more details on the event later. The council approved the request.
Bakke asked that a suspended ceiling be added to the EMS building project at a cost of $6,000. Michele assured the council that the additional cost would not go over the budget. The request was approved.
Fillmore County Assessor Jason McCaslin gave a presentation to the council. He noted that the assessors’ job is to be sure that taxes are spread out equitably. Properties are inspected every five years and are required to be valued each year based on market values. McCaslin explained how properties are assessed and what the criteria is along with the appraisal model. There is an appeals process for homeowners and the data from the assessments is available online for anyone to review.
Mayor Resseman noted that the shoreline behind the old EMS building needs work. He asked the council to start considering repairs and bonding as it will probably be a long process with many discussions. “We need to stay in the bonding conversation, but we need to have a project worth bonding,” Mayor Resseman stated.
The council revisited the discussion on lowering the speed limit near the school. No action was taken, but the police will be asked to monitor that area and see if that encourages drivers to slow down.
The Round-Up Dollars program was reviewed. The program had originally been set up to raise funds for a new EMS building, but when the Preston Ambulance Service took over the Lanesboro area, the proceeds were turned over to them instead. Albrecht-Benson noted that while it’s too late to change how it was handled now, the council needed to make sure that something like that didn’t happen again.
The city still has some COVID funds from American Recovery Funding to use up. The EDA asked for one-third of the amount to be dispersed via grants to Lanesboro businesses who were affected by COVID. City Administrator Michele Peterson suggested that the council also consider several other options for the funding. One of the options presented was the tennis courts, which are in bad shape and need to be repaired or replaced with something else. Albrecht-Benson asked if the area could be turned into a parking lot, but water run-off issues there would cause too many problems. It was noted that some people use the tennis courts to play pickleball, which will be taken into consideration. The other option presented by Peterson was replacing the boiler in the community center. It recently went out and the city was able to fix it, but it’s old and becoming more difficult to find parts for it. “It’s a long-term investment for the community,” Mayor Resseman said, adding that the community center is much needed and used. A survey will be sent out to Lanesboro residents to get their input on how the funds should be used.
Technology for the council meetings was discussed. Currently, the video feed for the meeting is projected onto a freestanding projector screen which can be difficult to see. Peterson felt that a monitor mounted on the wall would be a better option. She also noted that the internet connection in the meeting room is unstable and the microphone system that is currently being used is unwieldy. The council agreed to install an ethernet cable now and then to revisit some of the other technology issues later.
The next Lanesboro City Council meeting will be held on April 4 at 6 p.m.