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Paynesville Press - May 31, 2006

City council interviews administrator candidate again

By Melissa Andrie

The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Wednesday, May 24.

*The council held a second interview with Renee Eckerly of Cass Lake for the vacant city administrator position. The interview included questions from council members, city employees, and community members.

*The council hosted a Minnesota Department of Health representative for an informational meeting on the wellhead protection area. Surface activities can directly impact water quality in the area, and a 10-year plan will be developed to educate residents and protect wells and aquifers used for public water supply. The connection between the North Fork Crow River and the aquifer that supplies the city wells will also be studied.

Areas from where surface water reaches the city wells within a one-year period and within ten years have been determined. A scoping meeting will be held in June to start the next phase of this project.

*The council approved partnering with the Stearns County Housing and Redevelopment Authority on its reapplication for a Small Cities Development Grant. This is the third year the city has applied, though it has previously hired a private organization to complete the grant. Stearns County HRA will modify and submit the grant at no cost to the city.

*The council approved payment of $215,275.04 to R.L. Larson Excavating for work completed on the 2006 Street Project.

*The council discussed a possible plat for a Dombrovski development. Keith Dombrovski has agreed to have the property, which is now in the township, platted as city property. City attorney Bill Spooner is completing paperwork on the plat and was directed to include a tax deferment of five years with an option to renew for five years, along with prorating of the street lighting and park dedication fee costs, which will be paid back to the city as the lots sell. The city requested that Dombrovski annex his land to the city since much of its lies in the wellhead protection area.

*The council approved lending $50,000 from EDAP to Quad'L Partnership in conjunction with $100,000 being lent by Paynesville Township thru EDAP.

*The council approved expenses of $3,500 for David Drown Associates to apply for the designation of city property as a JOBZ - Job Opportunity Building Zone - area and set a public hearing on the JOBZ request for Wednesday, June 14, at 7:15 p.m.

A JOBZ area allows local and state tax exemptions for new and expanding businesses. Leo Louis of Louis Industries requested this in preparation for expansion of the company, which must create at least five new jobs to fulfill the requirements of this designation.

Skins Protective Gear had expressed interest in pursuing this program with a different piece of property but withdrew the request.

*The council accepted a bid from Caldwell Asphalt Company in the amount of $20,450.37 for seal coating to be completed this year. One other bid, in the amount of $25,386.75, was received from Astech of St. Cloud.

*The council approved contributions of $17,500 to the construction of playground equipment at the elementary school. The school district is required to provide reasonable public access to the playground.

*The council set a public hearing for a lot split by Jeremy Nelson for Wednesday, June 14, at 6:45 p.m. Nelson wants to split a lot on South Street because the St. Louis Catholic Church has expressed interest in adding a portion of his property to its cemetery.

*The council discussed the voting process for city employees on a possible unionization of their positions. Ballots were mailed on Friday, May 19, and were due Tuesday, May 30. A council member may be sent to observe the opening of the ballots.

*The council discussed creating a Public Safety Committee. No decision has been made on whether to create a new committee or to combine the duties it would have with those of an existing committee.

The council also discussed possible employee identification cards and whether they could be produced internally or whether they must be done professionally.

*The council expressed a desire to support a local Habitat for Humanity initiative in a way that sets a precedent for future council support of further projects of that kind. Any support will likely be given through the Economic Development Authority of Paynesville (EDAP). Currently, community members organizing the project are searching for a lot.

*The council approved a water credit, up to $40 per property for a total maximum credit of $6,500, for residents affected by the current street construction. The credit is to encourage residents to water their grass when it is replanted.

*The council approved the replacement of water meters for each property as street reconstruction is carried out. The total cost of replacement will not exceed $6,500.

*The council approved a $3,000 sanitary sewer and water main study to be completed by city engineer Bolten & Menk. The study will investigate the impact of the proposed Highway 23 bypass route on these city services. The Minnesota Department of Transportation will not cover any sewer or water main costs associated with the bypass.

*The council approved updating the city's capital improvement plan at a cost of $2,500. The update, which will add streets to the plan as necessary and evaluate underground utilities, will be completed by Bolten & Menk.

*The council approved advertisement for bids on 3,000 yards of fill material now located at the city sewer ponds. A minimum bid of $1.25 per yard has been set.

*The council gave a verbal agreement to provide additional funding to AMPI to open Railroad Street to install a new sewer main. The original plan was to bore under the road, but the signal for the machine was lost. An additional $2,500, as well as possible costs for replacing the sewer main, will be presented for council approval when final costs are determined.

*The council approved supporting the Initiative Foundation with a $1,500 gift. The foundation provides community and economic development in Central Minnesota through training, grants, and loans.

*The council approved attendance of any interested council members and city administrators at the League of Minnesota Cities annual conference in June. Full registration fees of $335 per person, hotel accomodations, and per diem, if requested, will be paid by the city.

*The council approved payment of a $14 fee for public works director Ron Mergen to attend the Minnesota Wastewater Operators Association meeting.

*The council heard from Spooner regarding city funding of the upcoming 150th city anniversary celebration. City contributions to such celebrations are not explicitly allowed, according to League of Minnesota Cities policies, but they do not appear to be prohibited.

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