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Brainerd City Council: Two questions go before voters in general election

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Brainerd Dispatch
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Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Two questions will go before Brainerd voters in the November general election.

At Monday's Brainerd City Council meeting, the group unanimously approved a special election for questions relating to local option sales tax (LOST) and capital improvement bonds.

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City Council member Dolly Matten was absent.

The first ballot question will ask voters if they support issuing bonds to finance the following capital improvements: heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrade at city hall and the police and fire stations, a salt and sand storage building for the Public Works Facility, emergency preparedness upgrades at the Public Safety Facility, and the repair and renovation of the entry stairs at city hall.

The bond issuance was first halted late last year when a petition holding 311 valid signatures was turned into City Hall. Needed were 294 signatures.

The exact price tag for the bonds is still being tallied as project estimates are still coming in, said City Administrator Patrick Wussow. The number will be compiled this week.

The second ballot question will ask voters if they support extending an existing one-half of 1 percent LOST.

It was first approved by residents in 2006 and it is set to expire in 2019.

In May, legislature and the governor approved the legislation to extend the LOST for another 18 years or until another $15 million above the amount authorized in 2006 is raised, pending voter approval.

The funds are for the sewer treatment plant upgrade, as they were designated in the past.

In other council news:

Referred a request from St. Francis School to the Transit Committee.

The school requested to keep monthly bus fees at $60 per child for the 2014-15 school year.

Since 2008, a handful of students have ridden the city/county's bus system to shuttle them from the outlying areas in the county to school. It was recently discovered that students who rode every day were being charged at a rate of $1.50 per ride, instead of the normal $2.50.

The school requested the same rate to help families who depend on that $60 rate, as well as to discuss future fees.

The Transit Committee will discuss and review the situation and to come back with recommendation Aug. 25 to the council.

Heard a request to reimburse a property owner at 1324 South Seventh Street the cost of having a plumber repair her sewer service last winter. The request was initially denied after the city insurance found the responsibility was on the property owner. A followup investigation showed the city's contractor more than likely cause the problem several years ago when the project was being done. Since the warranty period for the project is over, the responsibility could fall to the city.

City leaders will ask the original contractor to pursue an insurance claim with its private insurance company. Staff will bring back the contractor's response at its next meeting.

Approved a change in regard to the city's League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust insurance. The annual premium has increased about 12 percent, not including the addition of the hydrodam. Liability and auto liability rates affected that hike.

Approved a quote for class five aggregate from Roscoe Trucking at the rate of $6.75 per cubic yard, up to 1,000 cubic yards.

Approved a 3 percent rate increase for the Transit Office lease. The move will make the current $485 per month fee jump to $500 per month.

Heard a 2015 funding request of $76,000 to the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation (BLAEDC). That's a 2 percent increase compared to 2014.

Heard a request from the Initiative Foundation for $5,000 in 2015 to support the organization's operations.

Set a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 15 to consider a petition to vacate a portion of 24th Street between block 39 and 40.

Approved two leaves of absence requests from paid on-call firefighters. Joel Jacobson will be on leave from Aug. 11-Sept. 30. Clint Langerud will be on leave from Aug. 12-Aug.11, 2015. The move now means 32 paid on call firefighters, instead of 34.

Approved a request to buy a police dog and train it for duty. The total cost is about $11,500. Of that, $1,500 will come from the Police Department's K9 budget and the rest from the drug forfeiture fund. The former narcotic detection dog retired late last year.

Approved a job description and pay of $24.59 per hour for the police department record management lead position.

Heard an update on code enforcement statistics. So far this year, there have been 765 code violations. This month has seen 53 violations so far. June saw the most with 224 violations, and May was close behind with 223 violations.

Approved a street closure request for the 5K run to take place during homecoming week at the Brainerd School District. The closure will run from 6-10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 27 on parts of East River Road.

Heard an update on the Garfield Street project, which is on schedule to be completed by Sept. 2, the first day of school.

Adjourned into closed session to conduct the city administrator's performance evaluation.

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Jessie Perrine
Jessie covers the Brainerd City Council and the Brainerd School Board. Born and raised in southern Minnesota, Jessie attended Winona State University, where she majored in journalism with a minor in women and gender studies. She worked at the Winona Daily News, Tomah Journal and the La Crosse Tribune before starting at the Dispatch in 2012.
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