Baxter City Council bids farewell to Holman
The longtime council member, vice-mayor and former development director is leaving after 13 years on the council and more than two decades in the city of Baxter.
The Baxter City Council said goodbye to a longtime public servant of the city during a virtual meeting Tuesday, Dec. 17, as council member Todd Holman is moving away.
“I don't want this to be a eulogy, but we're saying goodbye to Todd tonight. I was honored to work with him,” Mayor Darrel Olson said of Holman. “We agreed probably 95% of the time. And the other 5%, there's always respect for the other person’s opinions and thought processes, and at the end of the day, there was agreement to move the city forward in a positive direction.”
Holman first moved to Baxter in 1999 and quickly established himself in the area, working as the city’s development director before moving on to a new job in the Crow Wing County planning and zoning department. With this career shift, he promptly won an election to the council, where he has served as a member and vice-mayor for 13 years — a period of extraordinary growth, as well as daunting challenges for the city as it experienced rapid expansion and the 2008 Great Recession during his years as an employee or council member.
Now, that chapter has come to a close.
“It has been my honor and privilege to work with you, this council, and many council members that I've had the opportunity to work with,” said Holman, who took a moment to commend the city’s staffers and department employees, who he said are instrumental in planning and fieldwork that runs the city. “This has been a great city to live in with my wife and I. It’s just so welcoming and engaging and I just couldn't say enough good about this community to live and raise a family.”
“It's been an honor and pleasure to serve with all of you and to serve the city of Baxter,” Holman concluded. “It’s been truly my pleasure. Thank you.”
In turn, the other council members gave their parting comments to Holman.
“It's probably good we're not in person or it would be an emotional ugly cry coming from me,” council member Connie Lyscio said. “I just want council member Holman to know that I’m so appreciative. … I'm grateful for his leadership and mentorship.”
“Mr. Holman, it's been an honor to serve with you and Baxter is less well off for you not living here,” council member Zach Tabatt said. “Thank you for your time.”
“It's been fun working with you,” council member Mark Cross said. “We've had our disagreements over the years, but it's all worked out well and the city has benefited from it. We're gonna miss you.”
Baxter is now preparing to seat a new member for 2021 after former state Rep. John Ward won a write-in campaign for one of two open seats. Cross won reelection to fill the other seat.
In other business, the council:
Approved the 2021 property tax levy of $7,256,500.
Approved a final pay estimate in the amount of $11,270 to Knife River Corp.-North Central for the 2019 full-depth reclamation improvements and 2019 Memorywood Drive improvements project contingent on the submission of final project documents.
Approved a change order in the increased amount of $29,895.84 and a partial pay estimate in the amount of $435,423.32 to R L Larson Excavating Inc. for the 2020 South Sanitary Sewer Interceptor, North Forestview improvements and North Forestview stormwater outfall improvements project.
Approved an invoice in the amount of $6,067 to R & H Painting for manhole lining and invert repairs at the manhole in the northwest quadrant of Cypress Drive and Greenwood Road.
Approved an invoice in the amount of $11,660.75 for one of 140 water treatment plant filter repairs to the Rice Lake Construction Group.
Designated polling places, as required by state law, for each voting precinct in the city. These are Baxter City Hall, Lakewood Evangelical Free Church, Lord of Life Lutheran Church and Heritage Church.
Approved the appointments of Brett Hague to the seasonal position of streets and utilities maintenance and Ben Krall to the seasonal position of parks and trails maintenance.
Approved the purchases of personal protective equipment, a new K-9 and less lethal weapons for the Baxter Police Department using drug forfeiture funds. The total amount for the equipment purchase is approximately $11,700, while the department is requesting approval to spend up to $12,000 from the drug forfeiture funds to pay for personal protective equipment. The total financial impact of purchasing less lethal weapons will be $7,500. The approved amount for a new K-9 is $2,000. Sgt. Matt Maier was able to negotiate a reduced rate for the new puppy at $1,000 and between $600 to $700 for travel costs.
Approved the purchase of an encryption component for the police radio for an additional $39,500 from the capital equipment fund and authorized the transfer of $5,900 from the general fund to the capital equipment fund.
Commemorated the death of former Baxter Mayor Don O’Brien, who died Dec. 6 at the age of 93.
Approved the 2021 enterprise fund budget as presented. Utilities covered by the enterprise funds include water, sewer and stormwater. Council members noted they were reluctant to increase utility rates, even by a small fraction, but felt dealing with maintenance issues now and proactively spending would decrease capital costs in the long-term.
Water line revenues total $1.5 million, with usage fee rates the primary source of income and a proposed rate increase of 2.7% or $3.08 per 1,000 gallons of water. Water line and water treatment plant expenditures total $2.1 million.
Sewer revenues are estimated at $1.4 million, which primarily comprises service charge revenue through a monthly rate on the utility bill. The proposed rate increase recommended for a sewer fund was 2.9%, as well as base fees that would increase from $1,440 to $1,445 per month for residential and $2,907 per month on commercial properties. Total expenditures for sewer are at $2.4 million.
Stormwater revenues stand at roughly $500,000, being primarily composed of separate utility fees at annual and monthly rates. Expenditures total roughly $740,000, with much of the costs grounded in various repair projects, capital improvements and depreciation.
GABRIEL LAGARDE may be reached at email@example.com or 218-855-5859. Follow at www.twitter.com/glbrddispatch .