May 18, 2023 at 3:29 p.m.
Taylors Falls extends job offer for zoning administrator, roof replacement delayed
The city of Taylors Falls may be getting a city zoning administrator.
Council voted last week to offer the position to Elizabeth Rose Ulrich Haas. Council had interviewed two applicants and she was the preferred candidate by all involved in the interviews. Due to the experience she reportedly brings, Council member Tim Grote suggested the start pay be boosted to $32 per hour. He added “...there are costs to not getting the position filled,” and was concerned the $25 to $30 per hour the city is at wouldn’t suffice. Council agreed to go with the $32.
In the midst of the planning commission and Heritage Preservation Committee doing a review and update for the city’s Short Term Rental permits, the council approved three more short term rental permit applications last week, bringing the total in the city to nine. The review is to check if the city standards meet county licensure requirements and if the city has local issues addressed.
Passing unanimously were permits for 661 River Street, 418 Colby Street and 297 West Street. The Conditional Use Permits allow these properties to operate as rentals, with conditions attached such as quiet hours, proximity of a property manager etc.
There was lengthy discussion about city ordinances in general and the need to re-organize, cull and post the ordinances on-line for the public.
Bolton & Menk, the city engineering firm, offered the service for $7,900. But, with a zoning administrator hopefully coming on board, council debated if the process needs to await her arrival. The action was unanimous to table the proposal until the May 22 council meeting, when it will be known if the candidate has accepted the job and when she will be able to start.
The city hall-fire station roofing project also did not advance.
The mayor brought a couple of quotes for council to consider. One was for a spray foam process and one was for rubber membrane. Council member Grote shared his opinion that the two can’t be compared as apples to apples.
The council was advised by Grote to hire a consultant to write specs and find contractors and manage the work. Grote, who worked in facilities management for Allina, said this could be a $100,000-plus project and a little money spent up front will help make sure the city gets what it needs.
Grote added that the expense requires being budgeted for and work can wait until 2024. The city has a local roofer who helped with leaks before and council decided the project should go back to square one. The city will seek a roofing consultant and revisit this at a later date.
The council debated the news that the sheriff has expressed concerns about deputies serving as security at Community Center events. Apparently the tight market for licensed officers has created scheduling difficulties and the county doesn’t have the manpower to support the duty. (The personnel are compensated by the center user with a special fee.)
On motion by Troy Aanonsen the rule for use of the Community Center was changed to only require a licensed catering-type server or a “security firm” to be on site when alcohol is served. Council member Larry Julik Heine voted no.
The use of cable and/or the Internet for broadcasting council meetings inched forward.
There was agreement to have Music Connection, from Forest Lake, do the sound system in the council meeting room. InFocus will provide the video synchronizing. Midco, said it will need two to three months to get the cable system in place.
And, in preparation for Wannigan Days council approved $600 from charitable gaming funds to bring in Junk Park again, which everybody agreed was a hit with kids, and the fireworks launch site is moving to Minnesota— it will either be from a little north of Taylors Falls or from by the dam.
In open microphone, Sandra Berg gave an update on the Concerned Citizens’ forum in April and said many diverse ideas were discussed. There is a downtown cleanup scheduled for Saturday, May 20, starting as early as 6 a.m. Volunteers plan to gather litter, hose off sidewalks, and do whatever needs to be done to tidy things. Any interest persons are welcome. Berg also commended Paul Stenger, public works, for the terrific job he’s been doing.
Former Council member Mary Jo Murphy stated she still gets calls about city business and something people are mentioning is the recent council action on public health mandates like masking. Murphy suggested council consider “walking back” the vote and it has a very divisive effect on residents. She also said she hears concerns about not having the Shafer Township fire service contract in place yet. Council member Aanonsen is the liaison to the township and he later reported there is another meeting with a township supervisor set for the day after the council session.