February 3, 2011 at 8:34 a.m.

Taylors Falls Council gets busy in New Year

Taylors Falls Council gets busy in New Year
Taylors Falls Council gets busy in New Year

The Community Emergency Response Team task force committee went before the Taylors Falls City Council January 24 to recommend approval for training of all CERT members simultaneously. Mayor Mike Buchite stated that the goal of the council was to approve the recommendation. CERT teams are community volunteers that act under the direction of law enforcement and local government to help manage natural disasters and other emergencies. CERT members are trained in basic safety skills, such as CPR and fire safety, and can "hold down the fort" until professional emergency responders arrive.

Council member John Tangen asked where funding would come from, City Clerk and Treasurer Jo Everson said the city received a $4,000 educational refund from the state for the Fire Department that would be used.

After some discussion on the wording and intent of some of the CERT manual, the council voted to approve the recommendation and authorize the Taylors Falls CERT.

During the public comment on the council agenda Don Lawrence, proprietor of the Old Jail Bed and Breakfast, requested that the city find a solution to parking problems relating to his business. One of Lawrence's customers was ticketed by the city after the recent heavy snow; the fine was paid by Lawrence, but he stated that the current arrangement "worked good for six and a half years" and that he cannot charge customers extra money (in case of fines) without losing business. Normally customers park on the street immediately in front of the building, and in cases of "pending snow" Lawrence directs them to the Lower Lot behind Petro Plus. However, Lawrence stated that snowplow crews "leave a furrow" and blowing snow into the street is illegal and unsafe, making on-street parking impossible. Having customers park on Bench Street raised liability concerns in regards to loss or damage to their vehicles and slipping or falling while walking uphill during the winter. Mayor Buchite assured Lawrence that Vice Mayor Ross Rivard and council member Larry Julik Heine would address the issue with public works.

The council approved submitting the kable Community Action Plan, which is part of the State Health Improvement Plan intended to make towns and cities more easily walked, rather than driven, by residents. Zoning Administrator Larry Phillips created a prioritized list of all possible additions to the plan, along with related improvements, and described the plan as having grown from a few trails to "a great city-wide project". Funding will be provided by a no-match grant, with the city's obligation being administration and volunteer time.

Council discussed $25,000 allocated from the city's cash reserves to pay down the city's debt. The money is freed-up by a reduction in staff as well as what were described as "extenuating circumstances". The decision was made to use the money to pay down the HRA-EDA debt, which would normally accrue at $5,000 a year for five years plus interest.

A fund was also created from the surplus to cover future fire department pension payments. State money covered the fund in the past, with the city not having to pay into it until last year. This year will continue the need for the city to maintain the fund's minimum value, with a continued economic slump and two firefighters recently retiring. $6,500 will be transferred from the Treasury fund to the Firefighters Pension Fund. Everson recommended that the council add language to the resolution for the council to consider an annual transfer. The resolution was approved with Council member Rivard, a firefighter, abstaining.


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