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Lanesboro City Council Report: Overnight parking issue addressed

Fri, Aug 25th, 2006
Posted in Government

Mrs. B's owner Terry Neumann called a recent enforcement of the "No Parking" ordinance "ill thought out" and declared it would have "far reaching effects" in a letter to the Lanesboro City Council at their regular meeting August 21st. Neumann went on to say several of his customers intend to never return to Lanesboro because they were ticketed for overnight parking in the street. He reminded the council many of his customers are elderly and need to park as close as possible. Since the city only needs the street clear to sweep one night a week, Neumann and other business owners signing the letter felt there was "no legitimate justification" to restrict parking seven days a week.

The council had decided earlier in the year to leave the no parking restriction in place for the summer and have it enforced. Mayor Steve Rahn said that, as far as he was concerned, the city could go back to just enforcing the ordinance on the one day needed. Administrator Bobbie Torgerson added that the tickets issued on Friday had been taken away. Torgerson encouraged the council to keep the winter no parking ordinance in effect, however, so snow removal could be completed efficiently. Neumann responded that he didn't feel it was a large issue, noting most of their business was from April to the end of October.

Council member Joe O'Connor related the history of the issue; several years ago businesses had lobbied to have the parking restrictions so the streets could be kept cleaner. Torgerson added she had personally gone down and swept a portion of the street by hand recently when the police had been called away to an emergency and the street sweeping hadn't been able to be completed. She encouraged business owners to help out in such cases.

The council decided to return to the previous way of enforcing the ordinance only on the night when the street would be swept with better and more signs clearly stating the affected days and times. The council intends to check further to make sure the best possible night will be used for street sweeping. Neumann responded he felt there would be no problems if there was a clear directive and not selective enforcement.

Library update

Ann Hutton, executive director of SELCO, addressed the council with a three-fold message: giving SELCO information, informing the council how well Lanesboro's library was doing, and updating them on the county funding process. The city supports and funds the library with $42.32 per person, the highest level of support among cities in the area with the exception of Harmony. The library is currently only open the SELCO minimum of 25 hours a week, but in that time, the staff is very busy with a high circulation (23,468 items) and 38 programs conducted. Lanesboro Public Library was the smallest library, by far, in the nation to conduct the recent WWI program.

Hutton informed the council Lanesboro has a "very unusual and unique set of needs," in part because of the presence of Commonweal. She, herself, has been involved in assisting Commonweal with outside research resources. Hutton also noted the library staff in Lanesboro have been leaders in finding funding through grants and the like.

Hutton shared that the county contract negotiations will likely begin early in 2007 with a goal of a new three or even five-year contract settled by April or May. Houston County went with a two-year contract in their last negotiations to get in sync with Fillmore County. Negotiations may or may not be done at the same time as Houston County. Hutton encouraged the inclusion of city government officials in the process, saying the county representatives listen better to them than her since they deal with similar issues.

Lanesboro Public Librarian Drue Fergison shared the results of a library patron survey with the council. Based on the survey, the library board and staff have decided to increase the hours the library will be open to 30 hours a week. Beginning in January, a more consistent schedule of open hours will be followed: Monday and Saturday, 9-2; Tuesday and Thursday, 3-8; and Wednesday and Friday, 1-6. The library staff will focus on direct patron service. Friends of the Library and the library programming committee will take over the programming and grant writing. Fergison assured the council there would be no increase in budget or staffing to accomplish this; the staff has completed deferred projects and has been striving to be more efficient.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• agreed to pay their share of the new fire truck ($10,000) and cover another $4,696 for a short time for the department until department money was available for a payback;

• increased salaries for the mayor (from $1,000 to $1,600) and council (from $600 to $1,200) to get more in line with neighboring communities;

• approved an employee pay increase of $.62 an hour for all full-time city employees (approximately a three percent increase);

• adopted an emergency management plan for the city;

• discussed options and possible solutions for garbage issues behind the Parkway Pub;

• received a preliminary budget for 2007-final maximum budget will need to be finalized at the first council meeting in September.

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