February 22, 2023 at 3:27 p.m.
Lent-North Branch parcel annexation gets last local okay
Meanwhile, Stacy has not yet sent in its state boundary adjustment request.
Chisago City is scheduled to meet February 28 and may act on sending in the request to annex a corner of Lent, which the city council endorsed last November.
The elimination of Lent as a township was set in motion when it was accepted by citizens attending the town annual meeting in March of 2022.
The North Branch council also discussed how to seat applicants for Water & Light. The commission seats have expired (story Press Jan. 26) with the exception of James Baxter’s and all the incumbents applied to be re-appointed along with newcomer Patrick Meacham.
Incumbent utility commissioner Peter Schaps also applied; but he was reminded he is ineligible to sit on the utility commission as a voting member, while also a member of the city council.
Council member Kelly Neider made a motion to bypass interviewing applicants, except calling for an interview for Meacham, and seat everybody else— but her motion failed 2-3. (Schaps was the other yes vote)
Council felt the fair way would be to interview applicants and this passed 3-2. Neider voted no saying, “I think this is wrong.” She added the Water & Light group is the “only” commission or committee where a city council member is disallowed. Mayor Schrieber disputed this and gave examples of the (PTOS) parks trails and open space and planning commission that don’t have voting city council members either.
Utility commissioners with the exception of Schaps, will continue to meet until the outcome of appointment action. The interviews will be scheduled soon and seats will be on the agenda for council appointment March 14.
Early budget numbers from year end 2022 were gone over, with council cautioned the accounting is preliminary yet. The city monitored what was happening and kept expenses below revenues, even though there were additional costs in using an outside firm while the city searched for a finance director to fill the vacancy, and police department compensation (OT) was larger than planned while the force was short-staffed.
City Administrator Renae Fry reminded council the city budgeted in 2022 to spend $12.5 million and it looks like this number is closer to $11.1 million.
The municipal liquor operations are projected to be able to transfer $100,000 into the General Fund contrary to social media gossip. None of the four major city funds is in the red, council was advised.
Neider left the meeting early stating she was ill.
East Central Energy is applying for state funds out of the Border to Border broadband program and council approved a supportive letter to be submitted. The city committed to not more than $10,000 as the municipal match for the money, with the actual amount conditioned on level of broadband service the company ends up providing.
And, city parks coordinator Nate Sondrol reports the PTOS is looking into developing a splash pad and pickleball courts, in response to a survey where interest in these activities was expressed. Pickleball could be incorporated at Northwood Park.
In public comment a resident complained about sidewalks this winter. The city has an ordinance calling for clearing by property owners within 36 hours of a snowfall event. The city then notifies of the violation, and if the task isn’t addressed, the city can clear and bill the owner.
Complaints can be directed to Chris at city hall or done on-line.
Public Works and city staff assured council they will try to do a better job staying on top of the issue with notices, etc.