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April 17, 2021

2/25/2021 2:31:00 PM
Water and Light Commission vacancy could be addressed soon

A resignation from the North Branch Water and Light utility commission has city council venturing back into the process of appointing a member, again.  The utility commission went to five members from the traditional three-member format not long ago,  and council solicited new applicants for filling those seats.  The one remaining original commission term expired this January —and council filled that when the incumbent chose not to reapply.  The latest vacancy is created by Vice Chair Emil Dahlberg departing.

Mayor Jim Swenson said Dahlberg e-mailed him his resignation as of February 15.  The e-mail was not included in the council packet.

By February 17 the commission had choosing a new vice chairman on its regular meeting agenda, and the utility website had been scrubbed of any mention of Dahlberg, his e-mail and utility phone extension were deleted.
Mayor Swenson suggested council see commission applicants’ names as soon as possible and suggested the next council meeting March 9. He said the vacancy has been known to the public since February 15.

Council member Amanda Darwin responded that the opening was only truly “made public” as of this city council session.  “How would anybody have known there was a vacancy?” she asked, when  it wasn’t  talked about in open session.

Council member Kelly Neider said in her opinion, council notifies.  She felt the Water and Light opening had been out in the public for “plenty of time” already.

Council member Patrick Meacham remarked he’d like to have a deadline guiding the application process, and council agreed that all interested people should have their information submitted by Monday, March 8.  The city website www.ci.north-branch.mn.us has a brief description and application for this and for the city planning commission long time vacancy on its website.

Information Technology specialist Ragini Varma noted during the council discussion the vacancy must be declared and the resignation accepted for the record, which had not taken place last week.

City Administrator Renae Fry suggested that if council members believe there aren’t enough applicants by next week to consider making an appointment, the council can just say so and extend the application window.

The vacant term goes until end of December 2022.  Water and Light Commission meetings are at city hall, and the schedule was changed to the first and third Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m.

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