Lake Shore City Council members and committee members are likely to get a raise in 2021.

The council discussed boosting pay during a budget workshop Wednesday, Sept. 9, held online via Zoom.

Council consensus was to have the city attorney draft an ordinance amendment reflecting the following monthly pay increases: mayor, $350 to $400; council members, $250 to $300; planning commission members, $35 to $125; and other committee members, $20 to $50.

The council discussed considering yearly 2% cost of living increases for council and committee members in the future, like it provides for city staff each year. However, council members and staff were unsure whether they could do that for council members and will check with the city attorney. City Administrator Teri Hastings said it may only be possible to increase council salaries in election years via an ordinance amendment.

The council considered monthly pay for mayors, councils and committees in neighboring communities for comparison. Those amounts are:

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  • Mayor: $350 in Lake Shore, Nisswa, East Gull Lake and Pequot Lakes. East Gull Lake is proposing to raise the mayor's pay to $500.

  • Council members: $250 in Lake Shore, $300 in Nisswa, $250 in East Gull Lake (proposing $350) and $325 in Pequot Lakes.

  • Planning commission members: $35 in Lake Shore; $80 in Nisswa; $100 in East Gull Lake (proposing $125) and $75 in Pequot Lakes.

  • Members of other committees: $20 in Lake Shore; no pay in Nisswa; $50 in East Gull Lake and $20 in Pequot Lakes.

Council member and mayor pay were last adjusted in Lake Shore in 2002 or 2003.

“These adjustments one way or another don’t affect the budget much, but it makes a political statement,” Mayor Kevin Egan said.

Council members Krista Knudsen and Doug Miller said it's hard to get people to volunteer for committees, so bumping pay may help.

Broadband

The city’s broadband committee has been researching how best to provide broadband access to all areas of the city. A request for proposals was sent out in August.

The council learned that Charter Communications (Spectrum) is looking to submit a grant to provide service to three areas of the city that could cost the city $230,000. This would provide service to 180 homes in the following three areas: north of County Road 29 and east of Jacobs Road; the west side of Lake Margaret and east of County Road 107; and an area around the north end of Agate Lake Road, including Anderson Road.

Charter would want half upfront and the other half upon completion. The city has several options to fund the cost:

  • A local bank bond (10-year bond rates have been 1.85%, per Todd Hagen from Ehlers & Associates).

  • Use the public improvements capital outlay fund.

  • Continue to find outside funding sources, or perhaps a second round of CARES funding, if that became available.

The city was approached by Hometown Fiber, who would do an engineering study for $8,000 that would help the city obtain grant funding. Their approach is a little different from Charter, a memo said.

The city also has $25,000 from Region Five/Sourcewell dedicated to broadband.

Hastings said Charter's proposal wouldn't cover all areas in the city lacking broadband.

"We will have to think outside of the box for those areas," she said, noting perhaps Sourcewell would offer low interest loans for those areas. "I think there’s some positive improvement for broadband at this point."

Saying the issue warrants more in-depth discussion at the council level, the council agreed to meet at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, after agreeing that getting broadband to 180 homes would be good.

CARES Act funding

Also at the Sept. 24 special meeting, the council likely will approve a $72,970 quote from Hy-Tec Construction to make safety and security improvements at city hall.

A plan outlines renovations to the east city hall entrance, public works office and city clerk office.

The work must be done and paid for by Nov. 15 or the city will lose its Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding to Cass County. The city received $80,388 and has a balance of $78,856.

Council consensus was to proceed with the city hall improvements so the city doesn't lose its CARES Act money.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.