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Funding, levies, and budgets on Lanesboro Council minds

Fri, Sep 19th, 2003
Posted in Features

The Lanesboro City Council adopted a proposed levy of $310,105 at their meeting September 15. An estimated eight percent increase in tax capacity is expected for Lanesboro; the city tax rate will remain at .75022. The impact of this will be an $87 increase in city taxes on a $75,000 home and a $179 increase for a $75,000 commercial property. Council member Joe OConnor presented a proposed 2004 budget to the council based on that levy. In the budget, funding was kept at the same level as in the revised 2003 budget. Step increases were given all employees while capped health insurance remained the same. Lanesboros LGA (local government aid) remains the same as last year ($232,294). No major equipment purchases have been included in the budget, no money has been set aside for an EDA employee or any other hiring in 2004, and no flowers are planned for Parkway Avenue. Money has been budgeted for the codification of city ordinances and law enforcement was budgeted the same as in 2003. Funds generated as a result of the eight percent tax capacity will be used for increased city utility bills and the operating reserve. The citys department heads will now be given a chance to review the proposed budget.Priorities Set for New AdministratorThe Hiring Committee created a list of priorities for Bobbie Torgerson, the new city administrator. Priorities included financial aspects, police protection, goal setting for all city departments, helping the Ambulance Director to establish ambulance policies and procedures, preparing a new personnel policy manual, completing the recodification of the city ordinances, and developing a working knowledge of the citys current major projects such as Church Hill, Center for the Arts, and the back-up generators.During the discussion of these priorities, the council asked about the status of the police coverage. City attorney Tom Manion informed the council that the Preston city attorney had contacted him and had been directed to draft a proposed contract for Lanesboro police services. The council discussed creating a committee with members from both cities to further plan for shared Preston/Lanesboro police protection.Codification of the city ordinances, another item on the priority list, has been budgeted for and the city has already committed $10,000 to it. City Attorney Tom Manion suggested it might be easier to start from scratch with a template of standard ordinances rather than assemble previously established ordinances. Apparently the citys ordinances are scattered; some are located in Manions office, some are in Deputy Clerk Rita Petersons office, some are on paper and some are electronic. Manion told the council that numbering of the ordinances is a "mishmash" as well. Some ordinances were numbered according to category; some were according to the date enacted. Council member Peggy Hanson volunteered to help Manion create a list of ordinances unique to the city to interweave into standard ordinances. SidewalksThe council invited Dick Asleson to talk about bonding for sidewalks. Asleson told the council their first step would be to do an inventory of the city sidewalks footage and have an engineer define the scope of the project. Stressing "economies of scale," Asleson said, "The bigger your project, the more economical it will be. Most of the work is done by machines." Although financing could be done using district wide assessment, Asleson did not endorse it. With that method, residents who did not actually have a sidewalk on their property but lived near one would have to pay for the sidewalk as well. Asleson endorsed individual assessment in which property owners pay a share for the sidewalk actually on their property. Currently residents pay fifty percent with the city picking up the other half. Commercial owners pay one hundred percent of sidewalk assessments. Asleson suggested financing $200,000 for fifteen years at an estimated five percent and assured the council they would have no problem getting that amount. He reviewed the usual procedure for hearings: a public hearing at the onset on whether the project would be done and another later for the actual assessments for property owners. The council made no decisions, opting to have staff come up with necessary linear footages for sidewalk replacement.Other BusinessIn other business the Lanesboro City Council; Adopted a resolution to participate in the state JOBZ program, proposing to make this economic development tool available for two Main Street parcels; Opted to contribute $250 to SMIF (Southeast Minnesota Initiative Foundation), noting that SMIF may help with grants for the burned out downtown area; Discussed downtown garbage issues with businessman Jon Pieper and suggested a cooperative solution arrived at with other downtown businesses and the Park Board; Heard that master plans for the Arts Center will be available at City Hall for public access and that a special meeting will be held with Attorney Eric Galatz regarding the project. This will afford the council the opportunity to see some sample documents for the project.

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