The Nisswa City Council accepted police officer Dan Lasher's resignation and unanimously agreed to advertise for, interview and hire another officer.
Council feedback was sought Wednesday, Jan. 16, on filling the vacant officer position. Mayor Fred Heidmann said that in the past when city employees have resigned from any department, the council hasn't discussed whether there is a need to review that department, including its needs and goals, to determine whether a vacant position needs to be filled. He suggested the council hold a workshop to discuss this.
According to Jan. 8 Personnel Committee meeting minutes, Heidmann suggested the council consider not filling the vacant police officer position for one year. He wanted to see what a schedule would look like with five officers without overtime to show coverage changes or decreases.
Police Chief Craig Taylor said Nisswa police made 113 arrests in 2018, the community has grown, fewer burglaries were committed downtown compared to previous years, and the department should work toward 24-hour coverage, according to Personnel Committee meeting minutes. Regarding scheduling impacts, one less officer would mean approximately 5.75 hours per day of less coverage by Nisswa police.
Council member John Ryan said at the Personnel Committee meeting he believed police visibility deters crime and that the position should be filled.
The Nisswa Police Department has one chief, one sergeant and four officers.
Lasher joined the Nisswa Police Department in January 2016 and resigned effective Jan. 20 to join the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office as a deputy.
No other council member spoke Jan. 16 except to vote to fill the position, which Heidmann supported as well.
The council agreed to request an additional $23,000 in Select Committee on Recycling and the Environment funds for 2019 from Crow Wing County to operate the city's recycling drop-off center. The city currently receives $45,000 per year from the county to cover recycling costs.
City Administrator Jenny Max told the council Nisswa has become a regional location for people to take their recyclables, resulting in increased volume and increased cost incurred by Waste Partners. The city would like to continue offering recycling services, she said.
Max reported that Eric Loge, owner of Waste Partners, said the amount of materials collected continues to rise, as does the expense to dispose of the materials.
The Crow Wing County Board must approve the council's request. If it's denied, the city would have to consider reducing the number of times Waste Partners takes recyclables, and the drop-off center is often overflowing already.
In other business Jan. 16, the council:
• Agreed to buy a work truck for the Parks Department not to exceed $25,000.
• Approved a rezoning application to change the zoning district on a 32.68-acre parcel of land from open space residential to commercial waterfront so Grand View Lodge can build administrative buildings. The land is just south of County State Aid Highway 77 and west of the intersection of Lower Roy Lake Road and CSAH 77.
• Approved an ordinance amendment that establishes new provisions regulating water accessory structures, and an ordinance amendment that revises stream classifications and resort development standards.
• Approved publication of a notice of intent to accept cable television franchise applications, as requested by TDS Telecom. A public hearing will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 20 for the council to consider applications for the grant of a cable communications franchise to operate a cable system and/or provide cable services in Nisswa.
• Decertified tax increment financing districts for Grand View Rentals and for Grand View conference center.
• Met before the regular council meeting to hear a presentation by Max regarding city department projects and goals for 2019.