The first meeting of the year for the Rushford Village council, Tuesday, January 16, was largely comprised of annual housekeeping. Designations for official services, committees, contracts, and zoning rates were all maintained the same as in 2017. A financial report, including outstanding indebtedness was also presented by City Treasurer Judy Graham. The only items pulled for extended discussion were the Planning and Zoning Commission and Rates of Pay.
The Zoning Board is currently headed by Zoning Administrator Jon Pettit, Bruce Hovland, Glen Kopperud, and Hamilton Peterson. One seat on the board, a one-year term previously held by Todd Baker, is vacant. Citizens interested in serving on the commission should contact the Village Hall. Hovland’s term also ends in December 2018 and the Mayor Gordon Johnson indicated Hovland would not be seeking reappointment, as he is planning a move into the City of Rushford and will be ineligible to serve.
A review of the Rates of Pay, including current wages for city employees Travis Scheck, (Public Works supervisor), Hamilton Peterson (Public Works), Judy Graham (treasurer), and Mary Miner (city clerk) were discussed. An additional rate fee chart of city service fees was approved, but the items pertaining to employee wages and council wages were tabled for later review. “I would like to look at the number of hours we had for 2018 and see if what we have is sufficient,” noted Mayor Johnson.
Following the regular meeting, the council did conduct a closed meeting review to consider strategy for labor negotiations and employee performance review.
The largest discussion point for the meeting, however, was related to an inquiry from AcenTek for fiber optic permit and placement. Scheck made it clear he has reservations about the placement next to city roads. “How much power does the city have here?” he asked.
“There’s no place to put some of this,” added Councilor Mike Ebner. “They’re going to be looking for the most cost effective and maintenance free areas. That’s where they’re going to want it.” Ebner suggested the council and representatives from AcenTek sit down and hash out the possibilities and any concerns.
Scheck indicted that current requests are along every rural Village road or abutting existing roadway or property. He has pinpointed several roads that are of certain concern. To date, the Village has not been provided any maps of the targeted areas.
City Attorney Tom Manion suggested the Village follow a League of Minnesota Cities short form Right of Way Ordinance policy. With it, interested parties would need to fill out an application for inquiries within the right of way. “It’s more formal and helps to get something to looks at,” noted Manion. “Otherwise, there’s not much guidance out there. Some cities will say it’s overkill, but there’s a lot of requests for the right of way.”
Ebner also questioned who is ultimately responsible for maintenance or remedy of issues if the right of way ditches are disturbed. He also suggested the Village take a good look at future bridge or ditch work that is planned in effort to avoid potential relocate fees for the underground utility.
City staff will review the League policy and determine if the Village should proceed with a Right of Way Ordinance. The matter will likely be discussed at a future meeting.
The Village also passed a new resolution regarding the Request for Detachement and Annexation of Property from Dan and Mary Jo Grimsrud. The Village passed a similar resolution last December, but the State Municipal Board determined that a different concurrent “caption” was needed to further the process. The new resolution specifically states, “Detachment and Concurrent Annexation of Property.” It covers the same property description and by the same state statute.
Due to the February 6 caucus being the date of the first normally scheduled meeting for February, the council has moved its next regular meeting to Tuesday, February 13, at 7 p.m., at the Village Hall. The public is encouraged to attend.