12/18/2012 3:49:00 PM Public: No comment on city budget and levy
By Larry Dobson
The Dodge Center City Council held the annual city budget and levy public hearing Monday, Dec. 10 prior to the regular council meeting but no one from the public appeared. Two people did appear to address the council on other issues, Ruth Greenslade on emergency preparedness and Joe Wheeler on housing services, and staff members appeared to discuss issues related to their respective departments.
After approving council minutes for Nov. 26, airport board minutes for Nov. 21 and payment of bills totaling $25,687.15, the council approved a city budget and levy totaling $1,264,179. The budget/levy breaks down as follows:
General Fund $546,764
Library Fund $ 86,860
Fire Fund $ 68,691
Equip. Repl. $ 95,000
Capital Proj. $ 43,500
Interfund Loan $ 72,416
Debt Levy $350,948
The debt levy amount is for general obligation (G.O.) bond series 2009A in the amount of $115,948 and G.O. bond series 2007A in the amount of $235,000.
The council approved a resolution setting rates for city services effective Jan. 1, 2013:
Water, base charge $5.35 and volume charge $2.20/1,000;
Water debt, base charge $1.50 and volume charge $1.25/1,000;
Outside water sales, $2.50/1,000;
Sewer, base charge $4.15 and volume charge $5.15/1,000 of water use;
Sewer debt, base $2.95 and volume charge $0.35/1,000 of water use;
Customer charge $2.04/month;
Storm water charge $1/month;
Reconnect charge (non-payment) $100;
Meter deposit (renters) $60.
In other action, the council approved:
the salary plan contained in the 2013 budget;
a five-year renewal of the PeopleService contract;
a draft of a fire protection contract with Wasioja and Ashland townships to be sent to the townships for review and input;
a 2012 audit proposal from Smith, Schafer and Associates, Ltd. for $17,700 to audit the financial statements;
a plan to lease acreage at the airport for agricultural use at a rate to be determined;
city staff health insurance if it comes in under budget to be reviewed by the mayor who will decide if a special council meeting is required for final action;
a mixer valve replacement for the city water system;
a salary and benefit plan for a temporary seasonal city employee who will continue to work while another staff member is out for surgery. The salary will be $17.63/hour with sick leave and vacation benefits;
an annual pay increase of $500 for the captain in the fire department;
use of a city fire department vehicle for a Toys for Tots event on Sunday, Dec. 16 to shop in Rochester.
Ruth Greenslade made a presentation to the council on the County Public Health Preparedness Plan and how services are to be provided in the event of an emergency such as a tornado, a biological agent or hazardous materials.
Southeastern Minnesota Multi-County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (SEMMCHRA) Executive Director Joe Wheeler presented a proposal for his organization to be granted levy authority to tax and provide housing services within Dodge Center. City Administrator Lee Mattson recommended against the city accepting the proposal because of concern about giving such authority to an outside board. He did, however, suggest the city might consider contracting with SEMMCHRA for some services, particularly Section 8 rental assistance and first time home buyer programs. At the present time, Dodge County residents can apply for rental assistance but must take housing outside the county if they are approved. Wheeler said contracting with SEMMCHRA for Section 8 services would cost the city $2,000 annually and make qualified renters eligible for rental assistance of $335/month. The council decided to take no action as Wheeler said he was going to be contacting Dodge County commissioners to discuss a county-wide contract. If he is unsuccessful, the council will reconsider a possible contract.