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The Lanesboro Council gets a red box

Fri, Jan 9th, 2009
Posted in Government

An unexpected guest showed up at the Lanesboro City Council meeting on January 5. Terry Neumann, who owns and operates Mrs. B's Bed and Breakfast, approached the council with what he called a "thought gift." A red box was given to the mayor, which held a note inside that read "Think outside the box."

Neumann expressed his opinion that the city should look at things in a different way and not always do the same things they have always done. He noted that approximately 20 percent of the retail businesses in Lanesboro have closed due to the poor economy.

"We have to think about our planning," said Neumann. "How do we keep the businesses that we have?"

According to Neumann, his bed and breakfast had three times as much business seven years ago. He has seen his property taxes increase 25 percent, when property values are going down. He added that the only group of employees that has never taken a pay cut is government workers.

Neumann's suggestion was for the city to look at new businesses and think about what affect they will have on other businesses in town. "If we get a new diner, what's that going to do to the business at Pedal Pushers or Rhino's?" he asked. "We need to look at what we have and keep what's viable here. This is my feeling for the new year. We should throw Minnesota Nice out the door. There must be some way to do it."

Council member Vince Jeannette commented on Neumann's suggestion. "America was founded on the ability to decide if you want to go into business," he said. "If another bar wants to come into town, who am I to say no? It's the law of the jungle, and business is a jungle. I don't see it as a viable option."

Snow Removal

Street Superintendent Andy Drake and Police Chief Matt Schultz attended the meeting to talk about the snow removal policies and see how things were going. The council talked about working on a new snow removal ordinance that will make it very clear when vehicles should be moved from the downtown area.

Currently, the fine is $100. The council talked about changing that to a $25 fee plus towing. Schultz said that right now vehicles are being towed if they are in the way and they cannot get a hold of the owner.

There was also a question of the ordinance's wording about measurable snow. The council would like to make the wording clearer about how much snow has to fall before the streets are plowed. They would also like to define the downtown area.

Drake said that things have been better this year with snow removal and parked vehicles.


Joe O'Connor asked the council, on behalf of the EDA (Economic Development Authority) if they would be interested in purchasing and owning an assisted living facility in Lanesboro. The EDA has been looking at different options for the city, including private ownership.

Tom Dybing said that there is obviously a need for that type of facility in Lanesboro, but in light of the coming year and the budget cuts that need to be made, the city would be hard-pressed to make any kind of commitment. The rest of the council agreed that they would prefer a private ownership.

O'Connor also showed the council a copy of the Revolving Loan Fund guidelines. He said there is currently $40,000 in the fund that was paid back from small cities grants and is for the city to loan out to businesses. He requested they discuss the guidelines at the next meeting.

Other Business

Council members were sworn in by City Administrator Bobbie Vickerman. Ceil Allen, Mayor Steve Rahn, Tom Dybing and Joe O'Connor each began their new terms. Allen will be on the Library Board, Rahn will stay on the Park Board, O'Connor will move to the Public Utilities board, Dybing will be on the Planning and Zoning Committee and Jeannette will take over on the EDA.

The council expressed their gratitude to Kevin Drake for his years of service on the council.

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