1/13/2023 1:44:00 PM New council holds first meeting
Two newly-elected Taylors Falls council members and a mayor holding office for the first time struggled somewhat with finding their footing, in the formal organizational meeting portion of the council session this week.
In the end, the vice mayor post, decided on the second ballot, will be held by incoming Council person Lee Samuelson. Council managed to find agreement on some basic services that assist the municipality; such as engineering, financial etc. But a good portion of the agenda was put off until later this month.
Actions re-establishing staff and council compensation, engineering and fiscal consultant firms, and other annual votes such as appointing council to be liaisons to city functions—were the immediate focus of returning Council member Troy Aanonsen. He tried motions to table appointments and to not set wages as budgeted, adding he wanted more information on committee duties, plus he wished to review contracts. On wages, he was advised they were accounted for in the budget for 2023, and to alter them now would be dishonest at best. Aanonsen claimed he never saw the final budget adopted for 2022.
He ended up withdrawing what he’d motioned for, when both veteran Council member Larry Julik-Heine and new member Tim Grote, as well as the city clerk treasurer argued that the city is in the midst of something of a personnel crisis. Plus—completing the process to put order to city hall after a turbulent year needs to be a priority. The city underwent a painful and unplanned separation with the former clerk-treasurer, and the zoning coordinator died not long ago, and reportedly one of the public works staff is off the work schedule. (There was no public discussion on this issue.)
The first part of any new year is when financial audit materials begin to be collated for the state, Clerk Mary Tomnitz cautioned council members. Deadlines must be met for filing reports, etc.
The longtime legal counsel also ended its relationship with Taylors Falls at the end of 2022. The city needs to interview the two firms that have submitted RFPs. (This is tentatively set at city hall, Jan. 17 or 18.)
As for reviewing actual contracts for the services, it was finally decided the review needs to be done well in advance of bringing firms on-board. Taylors Falls will aim to begin to look over and review contracts for 2024 services and if anybody sees items of concern in this year’s contracts this will be addressed. On recommendation of Mayor Weibring to do so “conditionally,’ the council did vote to retain Bolton & Menk and Ehlers Assoc. and Abdo at least for the time being.
City fees remain the same as 2022, with the exception of the hourly rate charged for having a deputy at community center rentals, going to the new rate of $64.12.
Council pay remains $1,800 annually for mayor and $1,200 annually for council and $15 per meeting for mayor and $10 for council when they are doing approved city business outside of regular sessions.
Office hours remain Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Council also agreed to discuss temporary or interim volunteer employees hours in an upcoming session. Right now Molly Nelson and Lynn Longnecker are assisting city staff under a minimal number of hours.