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Brainerd City Council: City closer to park in Buffalo Hills area

The city is one step closer to a passive park in the Buffalo Hills area.

Last February, the council approved pursuing special legislation to authorize the county to sell three tax forfeit parcels in the floodplain adjacent to the river to the city of Brainerd. The legislation recently passed, and the determined value is $10,170.68.

The Brainerd Rotary spearheaded the effort following its acquisition of about 38 acres of land just north of the three parcels.

The rotary said it will pay the full bill for the three parcels for the city.

John Forrest with Brainerd Rotary said the land has potential to draw in school field trips and natural outdoor lovers.

“This area is incredibly wild,” he said.

Rotary officials will adopt the three parcels, providing manpower and financial assistance for the area.

The group is asking for it to be a passive park, meaning it be used for activities like walking, bird-watching and canoeing instead of activities that would require development of the land.

There are natural trails mapped out for the land, and about 400 feet of riverfront.

The group is also asking the name be Brainerd Rotary Riverside Park.

City councilwoman Mary Koep said the project is a positive addition for the area.

“I can’t imagine anyone would say anything but thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said.

The council voted to convey the go-ahead to Rotary, contingent on the Crow Wing County Board’s approval.

In other council news:

Heard about potential bus parking issues. Jefferson Lines Bus Company announced last week that it will launch a new route connecting Duluth, to Fargo, N.D.

The route will include one daily run in either direction between the two cities, with stops in several other Minnesota communities including Cloquet, McGregor, Aitkin, Crosby, Brainerd, Staples, Wadena, Perham and Detroit Lakes.

The company currently operates out of Mickey’s in Brainerd, which acts as the agent selling tickets.

On the five days the four buses will coordinate, the buses will begin arriving at 1:40 p.m., and the fourth bus arriving at 1:55 p.m.

The company started looking for solutions to where to park those buses during drop-offs and pick-ups. Officials started looking at bus parking on the north side of Norwood Street between 5th and 6th streets between the hours of 1-3 p.m., and also at a nearby lot by Mickey’s that isn’t often used.

Officials will continue looking into parking solutions in the coming months.

City councilwoman Mary Koep said while there are potential issues with the location and extra bus traffic, city officials should work with the bus company instead of making them “jump through hoops.”

City councilman Chip Borkenhagen agreed. “We should do what we can to encourage more business, more stuff going on.”

Sod issues for several houses on SE 19th Street will be looked at for a solution with the city engineer. Sod issues came forward from a project dating back two year ago, with several residents reporting dead and cracked sod. City officials will talk with residents to determine what kind of solution can be reached and at what price.

Denied a request from a property owner on the 100 block of Birchridge Drive. The resident requested a deviation from the 2012 building permit rebate eligibility dates after the window contractor didn’t pick up the building permit until it was too late to receive the rebate. The contractor and homeowner entered into the agreement in early October but the contractor didn’t pick up the permit until after Nov. 1.

The homeowner requested to collect the $70.58 for the first permit and $140.75 on the second.

The council concluded that the contractor is at fault and the homeowner should instead turn to the company for potential reimbursement.

Heard results of the 2012 audit from CliftonLarsonAllen. The city had no instances of non-compliance in areas of compliance and internal control over financial reporting.

Under the Minnesota Legal Compliance, there were two compliance issues: prompt payment of invoices and contract language. Under the invoice issue, the city is required to pay everything within 35 days of receiving an invoice. One invoice was found to be paid later.

Under contract language, the state requires there to be language in contracts to require the contractor pay sub-contractors within 10 days of receiving funds from the city.

Operating funds:

• Total net loss of $95,000.

• Total expenditures were $131,000 over budget.

• Total revenues were $77,500 over budget.

• About $850,000 budgeted for BPU revenues and came in at about $940,000.

• All operating funds’ fund balances are positive due to additional transfers in the current year.

CliftonLarsonAllen representatives concluded the overall results are “positive.”

Brainerd Public Utilities audit results:

There was one internal control deficiency in inventory. There was a “clean opinion” on financial statements and no findings in regard to the Minnesota legal compliance.

There was a net loss of about $590,000.

Brainerd Police Department officer Jay Personius completed his field training and one-year probationary period. His employment status will be moved to regular and his pay will be adjusted to the second year officer rate of $4,708.72 per month effective June 9, 2013.

The Brainerd Police Department will buy an unmarked civilian vehicle for one of its investigators. It will replace a vehicle that the department has been leasing. The cost will be up to $22,000 and will include equipment installation. Funding will come from vehicle sales, schedules lease payments for the rest of the year, and reserves.

The city will move the $9,013 from its July TIF district tax settlement into the capital projects fund.

The city’s budget workshop will be held at 6 p.m. on July 29 at the Police Department.

JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at