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Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
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Lanesboro City Council talks trees


Fri, Sep 6th, 2013
Posted in Lanesboro Government

Lanesboro Street/Park Director Andy Drake approached the city council regarding several ash trees at Sylvan Park and around town that are dying. He said they trimmed the dead parts off the trees last year, but they need it again. He suggested they be removed instead.

According to Drake, the trees do not have Emerald Ash Borer yet, but they will. When it hits Lanesboro, the trees will need to be removed anyway. A forester looked at the trees and doesn’t know why they are dying. Drake removed 15 trees from the park last year.

Mayor Steven Rahn said if the trees are dying, they should be removed from the park. He said it should be up to Drake’s discretion which trees come down and when. As for the trees on the boulevards, the city can remove them, but it’s up to the property owner to replace them. It will be discussed with the owners before removal.

There will be some trees coming to the park to replace a few that will need to be removed. The David Drake Memorial Fund is paying for trees and they are requesting the city pay for the planting. The trees, which will be 18 feet high, cost between $295-325 per tree. The cost of planting is around $130 per tree. City Administrator David Todd came up with two options for the city to spend the money, which comes to $3,400. The first option is to purchase nine trees, which is around $3,000 plus tax, and the city will pay for the planting. The second option is to purchase six trees for $2,833 and pay for the planting with the remaining fund money.

Councilor Tom Smith asked if the planting could be done by city staff to save money. However, the two-year warranty on the trees would be void if Winona Nursery didn’t plant the trees they are selling. Drake said there is $1,500 in the street budget that was earmarked for stump removal, and the city could use that for the planting.

A motion was made by Councilor Tom Dybing to purchase nine trees with the money from the memorial fund, especially in light of the discussion about losing the ash trees. The money for planting will come from the street budget. The park board will decide on a variety of types of trees to purchase.

Budget

The council approved the preliminary budget and levy for 2014. The final must be decided in December, and the amount can be reduced, but not increased before that time.

The proposed levy was approved at $503,747. The estimated tax rate is 99.4 percent, which is higher than last year’s 86 percent.

City Administrator David Todd explained he had been working on the budget and levy for the past six weeks with the help of Mike Bubany from David Drown Associates. He said they need to build up reserves that have been depleted. The items on the budget, he added, are not wish-list items, but operational items. The city has been operating in the low 80 percent rate range for the last three years. With this rate at 99.4 percent, there are still four or five cities in the area that are operating at a higher rate.

Todd added that health insurance costs are going to increase drastically. Bubany guessed anywhere from $10-20,000. The police contract with Preston increased eight percent, plus one-third of the cost of a new squad car.

Councilor Tom Smith said there are many items they need to take a hard look at, including the police contract, which has been increasing every year. “I’m all for having police protection, but this cost is getting out of hand,” he said.

Dam Update

Todd said there will be Senators touring Minnesota to look at potential projects that could go on the 2014 bonding bill. The city is trying to get the dam project on the bonding bill, but the Senators will not be visiting Lanesboro on this tour. Todd said he will be giving a presentation to the Capital Investment Committee at Winona State University on October 8. He is hoping to be able to share with them how important this project is to the city.

Ambulance

There are currently 20 members on the ambulance crew, with another person taking the EMT class this fall. The new ambulance is scheduled to arrive in October.

Lee Peterson is happy with the employment agreement for part-time ambulance director. The council approved his contract for $22,000 a year. Councilor Smith asked where the salary came from. Todd explained the original contract was for $20,000, but Peterson will be receiving no benefits other than the PTO (Paid Time Off) and PERA the city is required to pay. He will also not be receiving on-call pay, run pay, and will not be paid for his trainings. There will be an increase in fees to help offset the costs of a part-time director.

The council approved the ambulance department use of the west side of the Bass Pond parking lot for Saturday, October 5. They will be providing CEVO (Coaching the Emergency Vehicle Operator) training in Lanesboro that day.

Blacktop Proposal

Jan and Lynn Haugen are planning to blacktop their driveway on Whittier Street, and approached the council about the city finishing the blacktop on the street at the same time. Mayor Steve Rahn said it is an area that has been washed out by rain before and should be finished. The estimate from Rochester Sand and Gravel was $2,766.85 for the city’s part. Councilor Tom Smith wondered if the 2 ½ inches would be enough, but Andy Drake felt it would work fine. The proposal was approved.

Chamber Update

Chamber of Commerce representative Julie Charliebois informed the council there will be a two-day Historic Preservation conference in town September 12-13. There will be around 200 people in Lanesboro for this conference. Charlebois also reminded the council of the Taste of the Trail event, which will be in Lanesboro Saturday, September 14.

Other Business

The council approved Todd’s request to attend the LMC Regional meeting on October 29 in Zumbrota, Minn. The meeting will be about health care reform and how it will impact the city.

The council also approved assessing past due utility charges of just over $6,000 to a resident’s property taxes.

The lease for the Lanesboro Museum was approved. The building will be needing exterior maintenance soon, and the city is responsible for the cost.

The fire department thanked the council for their support with the Leather and Pipes event, which had a great turnout.

The Truth in Taxation meeting will be held on December 2 at 5 p.m., before the regular council meeting.

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