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Lanesboro adopts Assessment Policy


Fri, Feb 22nd, 2008
Posted in Government

LANESBORO - The Lanesboro City Council adopted the revised Assessment Policy following a public hearing at its Tuesday, February 19 meeting. The meeting was a joint meeting of the council and the Lanesboro Public Utility Commission. Vince Jeannette and Jerry Evenson were absent from the meeting.

Some changes were made to the assessment policy prior to its adoption. One section defines more clearly what "improvements to existing streets" means. Four categories were identified, including reconstruction, mill and overlay, reclamation and seal coating.

Another section was revised to clarify who is eligible for a hardship deferment of assessments. The policy limits deferments to those over 65 who own the property and meet income guidelines. The assessment is considered a loan and interest is assessed at 8 percent per annum, with a lien filed against the property.

No one from the public spoke for or against the assessment policy. The council voted unanimously in passing the resolution.

The council approved three methods for property owners to pay for assessments for a number of improvement projects in 2007, including asphalt paving, alley and street repairs, and sidewalk replacements. Property owners have until March 31 to decide on one of three methods of payment: monthly payments through December 2008; the whole amount up front; or assessments over 7 years at 4.25 percent interest.

USA Tree City

The council has taken the first steps in becoming a USA Tree City. According to Mayor Steve Rahn, to qualify as a tree city, Lanesboro must have a tree policy in place, create a Tree Board, as well as a Tree Ordinance, and budget. They must also have a plan for an annual Arbor Day. The Park Board was authorized on Tuesday to act as the Tree Board and resources are already budgeted for purchasing trees. A tree policy is also in place. What remains to be done is drawing up an ordinance.

City Administrator Bobby Vickerman said that two People Advancing Lanesboro groups are also working on tree projects.

Mayor Rahn said that the Park Board has set April 26 as Arbor Day in Lanesboro to coincide with Earth Day. The board hopes to get students to plant trees on that day.

Hydro Upgrade

Jim Peterson of the Lanesboro Public Utilities updated the council on efforts to get the hydro-turbines repaired in Ohio.

Peterson said that he expects that the hydro would be re-installed in April. Plans also call for replacing the manual inlet and outlet gates with automatic gates.

The Public Utility Commission is in the process of putting together dollar figures to submit to the Minnesota Department of Commerce for possible funding of these upgrades.

Peterson said that the city is going green with it's utility. Plans call for diesel turbines to burn bio-diesel once the plant is fully operational.

The council approved an agreement with Dairyland Power to use the utility's transmission lines to send electricity on the grid.

Banyan Software

Chris Olson of Banyan Software, a computer software company based in Burnsville, made a presentation to the council about its software program.

The program is used by several cities throughout Minnesota for accounting, payroll and billing functions. The software integrates these three functions, thus saving time to re-enter data. The program also has report writing capability.

Council member Joe O'Connor had some concerns about the computer proficiency needed by staff to use the program. Training in the program is $400 per day.

No decision was made on whether to purchase the software for use by the city.

Other Business

• Public Works Director Andy Drake raised some concerns about downtown parking during snow removal.

"Why are we ticketing some and not others?" Drake asked, noting that he has gotten complaints about how the downtown parking policy is being enforced. "It should be everybody or nobody."

"We need to talk to the police, it's their job," Council member Kevin Drake said. Council members agreed that it is a matter of enforcement.

"We'll talk to the chief of police and see what happens," Mayor Rahn said.

• Bobbie Vickerman reported on the risk assessment recently carried out by the city's insurance carrier. A number of recommendations were made, including installing railings at the Waste Water Treatment facility, emergency signage at the Fire Hall, and a fixed ladder at the Ambulance garage. Vickerman said that some of the improvements have already been made.

• The council prioritized capital improvements for 2008. They include the Community Center roof and HVAC system, roof of fire hall and building of new Ambulance Station. Storm sewer improvements are also planned using a grant from FEMA.

• Steve Klotz was named Ambulance Director for 2008. The council approved the use of an office off of the Council Chambers for the Ambulance to use as a temporary office.

• The board approved a wine license for the Vintage Restaurant.

• The board approved a gambling license for the Lions yearly raffle.

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