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home : news : news July 25, 2017

4/7/2017 9:54:00 AM
North Branch Council takes issue with doings in St. Paul

The major item at the North Branch City Council meeting was bringing the charter school permit back onto the table and acting on it, but the council also addressed:

~ Approval of a League of MN Cities resolution expressing opposition to actions in St Paul usurping local governing authority.  The legislature has been reviewing a number of bills that would override city councils in setting annual budgets by allowing a reverse referendum, other bills take away the ability to set citywide workforce standards like minimum wage, etc.

North Branch Financial Director Richard Hill said the ability for citizens to reject an annual budget through reverse referendum would have “drastic” implications.  He said citizens vote every two years and can change the makeup of the council if they are unhappy with spending.  Messing with the budgeting process through special referendum powers is a “logistical nightmare” he added, because by the time the vote (under legislation considered) took place a half-year of city expenses would have already been paid out and about 80 percent of cities do not have balances sufficient to cover and transfer into accounts if budgets are lowered mid-year by popular vote.

Council person Kathy Blomquist noted the League has distributed six pages of bills where the legislature is “trying to hamstring local control.”

~ Approved the rezone and comp plan amendment sought by Trampe-Anderson families for parcels near Chain Lake. The rezone enhances the lots’ usefulness as residential sites and reconfigures their layout to allow for access.

~ Council member Canada had concerns about the municipal liquor store “revolving door” as far as staffing.  He said council repeatedly sees resignations and requests to fill retail spots and he would like to see some more information and a plan to address this.

~ The North Branch Beautification Association was represented by Barb Swanson, who got permission for the group to do a planting in the northwest corner of Hwy 95 and 30.  There will be flowering vegetation on city-owned property planted there this year.  

Swanson said this is the first of multiple projects the non-profit organization hopes to do.  The group is responsible for coordinating the flower baskets and for hanging the banners on poles.
~ An application was approved to be accepted even though it didn’t fit in the standards the city uses for that field of professional service. The provider of cranial sacral therapy wants to operate in the city but the discipline doesn’t really fit in massage or physical therapy standards.

The provider Stacy Blaisdell told council her practice requires training and certification levels and she has met the standards but the city ordinances don’t address those exact requirements. There is no undressing needed, no physical laying on of hands or bodily manipulation in what she does.

Council voted 5-0 to allow her to apply for a license and exceptions will be considered for satisfying requirements in the ordinance in this case.

~There were quotes accepted for chloride dust treatment (North Branch still has 33 miles of gravel road) from Northern Salt at 88.9 cents per gallon and SealTec for cracksealing at $1.53 per pound of bituminous.  

Public Works Director Sean Williams noted prices are attractive because the city co-bids with the (Isanti County) township and the school district, and also puts out shares quotes on fuel.

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