At the December 2 Lanesboro City Council meeting, Ambulance Director Deane Benson asked the council for permission to hold a town meeting in February or March of 2020. If the ambulance service does not get more volunteers to help staff it, there is a danger of losing its Advanced Life Support license. If that happens, the ambulance staff would only be able to perform triage, which would limit them to things such as bandaging, CPR, and oxygen. They would not be allowed to administer any medication, including aspirin, glucose, and nitro. “We would only be able to do about as much as what a bystander with a first aid kit could do,” Benson stated, adding that more of the ambulance calls received in the Lanesboro area are medical rather than trauma related. “The ramifications of losing our license are huge.” In addition to needing new volunteers, he noted that the service needs to maintain the volunteers it already has as their experience and training are valuable. It can take over a year for a new EMT to feel confident in the back of an ambulance and losing current volunteers will hurt the service. He and City Administrator Michele Peterson have been working on a retention plan for more compensation to address that problem. “We’re not in this to get rich,” he pointed out.
“I don’t think this discussion should wait until February,” Mayor Resseman said. He asked if Benson would be prepared to hold it by the end of January. Benson felt that more time would be beneficial to finish gathering data, but agreed to make it work whenever it could be scheduled.
Benson reported that the service has gone on 89 calls so far this year. The average is 100 for a 12-month period. Recently, wiring issues were experienced with the ambulance. Benson and City Maintenance worker Dave Haugen worked long hours to rectify the situation and repair the wiring so that the residents of Lanesboro would not go without ambulance service. “I cannot applaud the two gentlemen and Michele (Peterson) enough for getting that done in an expedited manner,” Mayor Jason Resseman commented.
A Truth in Taxation hearing was held to discuss the 2020 property tax levy and budget. The public was invited to ask the council questions about the budget and levy. There were concerns raised about the levy increase, which is 5.45% higher than 2019 for a total levy of $680,200.47. Mayor Resseman addressed the concerns, stressing that if there were a way to lower the levy, the council would have done so. The hearing was closed and Resolution 2019-23 certifying the final tax levy was approved.
EDA Director Rebecca Charles reported that CEDA has been working to determine what the biggest needs are for local businesses. They have also been looking into revamping and utilizing in-fill and vacant lots in town for housing.
City Engineer Brian Malm presented the current estimates for the upcoming wastewater treatment plant project. The costs have increased since the original 2018 estimate due to inflation, the addition of a pre-treatment building and a screening wall, as well as a considerable amount of design work. The total cost is now estimated to be $8.5 million, but the city will be eligible for grant dollars for anything over $4.3 million as the Public Facilities Authority has determined that to be the maximum affordable amount for the City of Lanesboro. Malm asked the council to give their input on the screening wall options and costs. Mayor Resseman said that he would prefer to see more plant based screening rather than the steel, stone, concrete, and other elements presented as that would lower costs while still being aesthetically pleasing. “We need to see a way lower number,” he said. A motion was made to budget no more than $200,000 on screening. Malm agreed to put together more options for the January council meeting.
A Lanesboro Public Utilities committee member application from Elliot Riggott was approved. Samantha Hareldson and Alex Gherig were approved to join the Park Board as full members. No applications were received for the Heritage Preservation Commission, which is in need of new members. Mayor Resseman noted that the commission is down to a skeleton crew, and they only meet quarterly so it’s not a big commitment. The city is required to have an operating HPC to be eligible for funding opportunities.
Lanesboro residents Rob and Melissa Wagner recently purchased some ag land on the east side of their residential property and asked the council to consider a detachment request so that all of their land can be classified as agriculture. Rob noted that the property to the east and west sides of their land is outside of city limits. The council approved the petition.
Ordinance 71.03 was approved for a 24-hour parking amendment.
All three of the landowners on Westview Drive were present at the meeting to discuss the option of declaring it a city street, due in part to a drainage issue. Two of the three have signed a petition allowing the change, but the third, David Landro, has not. “I’m amenable to the agreement, and that is something that would have to be worked out,” he said, adding that he is concerned about assessments from the city. “The problem I have with it is this… I don’t want to be in a position of just having something taken from me and then be charged for the item that was taken from me.” Landro noted that the property is not a thoroughfare and is not used by the public. The council decided to table the matter for another month to allow city attorney Thomas Manion time to review the original easement agreement for the property.
Peterson asked the council to consider a bid from the engineering firm Bolten and Menk for the dam construction project, which will begin in 2020. The city originally signed an agreement with Ayers Associate, which is an engineering firm based out of Wisconsin. Representatives from Ayers have not been at the dam very much. Bolten and Menk would be able to provide more on-site time, but because of that, their bid was higher than Ayers. The council felt that it would be best to stay with Ayers even though they haven’t been the easiest to work with. “I think we need to hold them accountable for this project,” Council member Bridget Harvey stated.
The next Lanesboro City Council meeting will be held on January 6 at 6 p.m.