January 13, 2011 at 8:47 a.m.

Split-votes set tone for challenging year ahead

Split-votes set tone for challenging year ahead
Split-votes set tone for challenging year ahead

The first meeting January 4 presided over by new Wyoming Mayor Eric Peterson didn't go so well. This will obviously be a year when consensus building skills get a workout. A fundamental action ordinarily rubber-stamped by most other councils as a sign of respect for the office of mayor, was usurped last week by a council person.

The new mayor's list of recommended 2011 committee assignments was presented, and then Council member Roger Elmore distributed a list of his own, that did not match the mayor's.

With the two Zerwas council members along for the ride (Joe and newly-elected Steven) Elmore's list of liaisons was adopted 3-2.

The practice of appointing elected officials to serve as the go-between and advocate for certain groups of employees has had its detractors in Wyoming.

City Administrator Craig Mattson spoke last week about downfalls inherent in the practice. The potential for problems lies in granting one group of employees direct access to council which another group doesn't have, or creating a "special network" Mattson said.

Wyoming city employees are covered by union representation and/or personnel policy, and when a council member is made a "liaison" it can be confusing to staff as to who has what authority. The police chief was asked directly if he wants the liaison and he said it's up to council. He added liaisons must be aware of "chain of command."

Mayor Peterson's list had eliminated some liaison slots (police and public works) and changed others. As one example-- Peterson wanted to get some new blood into the parks group, which he called "dysfunctional" because they're focusing unnecessarily on operations. Public works is supposed to handle the day-to-day concerns and the park board should be providing "more guidance" to the council, Peterson stated. The group isn't soliciting the level of public input, or doing the comprehensive overview and long range planning for parks that Wyoming needs, said Peterson.

He'd recommended putting Council member Linda Nanko-Yeager onto Parks as council liaison, and removing Elmore. The mayor also had removed Elmore from the Wyoming Area Business Association (WABA).

Elmore was clearly displeased. He said he "takes issue" with Peterson's remarks that he'd missed too many WABA meetings, and also said he has a "long standing relationship" with the parks group. In the end it was Elmore's version of the liaison list that won out.

The choice of a vice-mayor, who fills in when the mayor is unavailable, didn't even go smoothly.

Peterson nominated Nanko-Yeager and J. Zerwas nominated Elmore. The vote was 3-2 for Elmore.

Boat biz on 250th

The main action item for the meeting agenda was an un-permitted business operating in a residential zone. The marine repair shop owner Matt Lindgren, stood in the audience and advised council he was "withdrawing" his application for the interim use permit, asking the city to allow his boat repair business and setting conditions. He said Chisago City has welcomed him with open arms and suggested Wyoming "...visit Chisago and see how things are done." He also asked for a refund of his permit application fee.

Staff told council the fee just pays for costs and that there's no reason to refund Lindgren at this point, as there have been various expenses with meetings and notices sent about the marine business issue.

Council accepted the declared withdrawal of the application and denied the refund request on a vote of 4-1, with J. Zerwas opposed (but he didn't comment.)

Lindgren is moving his marine services in with the Lakes Area Canvas business site, on Hwy. 8 in Chisago City.

If you pulled a deck, plumbing or other larger building permit last year in Wyoming, you're in luck, because fees were hiked for 2011 for the first time since about 1998.

In some cases fees doubled; it is a lengthy list and it's best to review the fees on the website or contact city hall. Zoning Administrator Fred Weck said the fees for new construction were increased to match new alignments in the state's general building code, as well. Weck added that Wyoming is now in the general range or even towards the "low side" of other cities' fee schedules.

There's also several new individual septic system-related fees, due to new ordinances developed upon the merging of the township and city.

The police department welcomed its newest officer. Officer Benjamin Bruce was sworn-in. Bruce is filling a vacancy created when an officer accepted a job with the state patrol.

Police Chief Paul Hoppe also got the okay to order two 2011 Ford Taurus cars for the department. The council okayed auctioning-off a 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee that was a forfeiture acquisition and was used by an investigator-- and a 2004 Crown Victoria with high miles.

The new cars will run about $28,000 each, outfitted with equipment.


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