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BE council clashes on airport, levy

By Staff | Aug 22, 2010

Geln Gaylord

Blue Earth city councilmen Dan Brod and Glenn Gaylord sit directly across from each other at the council table.

But, last Monday the two did not see eye-to-eye on several issues.

Brod and Gaylord got into two arguments, when the topics of the airport management agreement, and the amount to increase the tax levy, were brought up.

Later, however, the two did agree on one subject – extending a sewer main to a business on north Main Street.

The council has spent several months discussing the Airport Management Agreement and Flight Based Operations contract, both with Tim and Barb Steier.

Dan Brod

The Airport Commission had presented new contracts three months ago, for the council to consider.

However, several councilmen disagreed with at least six points in the contract, and it was not ratified.

At an earlier meeting, the council instructed City Administrator Kathy Bailey to have the contract rewritten and presented to the council for their approval.

At the regular City Council meeting last Monday, Bailey presented three options to the council – have her negotiate the new contract, have the council as a whole do the negotiating, or bring in a third party.

That is when Gaylord suggested sending the contracts back to the Airport Commission, and have them come up with a new version for the council to consider.

“We had their recommendation for a contract,” Brod responded. “And I didn’t accept it. Why send it back to them, we already know what they recommend.”

Gaylord says the council should not spend their time “picking apart” things when they are brought to the council for approval.

Council person Paula Kelly suggested the council mark the areas they have issues with, and send that back to the Airport Commission to work on.

Mayor Rob Hammond agreed, and told the council to bring their concerns to the next meeting.

“We have already done that,” Brod says. “We have six areas that we want changed.”

Gaylord says the airport board has the expertise as to how these contracts should be set up. But, Brod says the council needs to change the way the finances are handled at the airport.

The two councilmen also clashed over the proposed tax levy increase.

Bailey presented a first look at the proposed 2011 budget and levy at Monday’s meeting.

As part of her presentation, Bailey says the city is allowed to raise their levy by a maximum increase of $133,973 in 2011, to a total of $1,296,824.

“That would be an 11 percent increase from this year,” Bailey says. “That is the maximum amount the state will allow.”

Bailey adds that the 11 percent increase would give the city a $59,296 ‘cushion’ over the amount needed for the budget.

However, the council had earlier indicated a desire to keep any levy increase at just three percent.

“A three percent increase would leave the city $39,792 short of the budget total, and something would have to be cut,” Bailey pointed out.

Brod says he is adamantly in favor of keeping any increase at the three percent level.

Gaylord, however, disagreed.

“The 11 percent increase is just the maximum we can do,” Gaylord says. “If we set it there, we can always lower it later, but if we set it at three, we can’t increase it.”

Gaylord says he feels the council needs to be concerned about possible state cuts which could be coming.

“I think we will need to have this cushion,” he says.

The council will have to decide in September which amount to first certify the levy increase at. However, it is not until December that the final, actual levy number will be set.

Later in the meeting the council received an update on the sanitary sewer extension plans for north Main Street.

The plan calls for two lift stations. The south one would serve three residences located just north of the Leland Parkway bridge.

The other one, to the north, would cross the Faribault County fairgrounds and serve several businesses located on the west side of Main Street.

The north plan calls for a sewer main extension to the Blue Earth River. It would then be up to the Moore Construction business, located on the south side of the river, to bore a sewer line under the river to hook up to the new sewer main – at their own expense.

Both Brod and Gaylord agreed with each other that they did not agree with that plan.

“Why is the city not obligated to bring the sewer main to the property line like we do in other instances?” Brod questioned.

Bailey says there are many other instances where the private sewer line traveled some distances to hook to the main.

“On the Eighth and Moore Street project we just completed there are some sewer and water lines that have to go to a corner or down an alley to hook into a main,” she explains.

Gaylord and Brod both pointed out that the city should be helping businesses.

They also questioned why the line had to go under the river instead of going south to the other lift station.

“Either way it has to be pumped,” Brod says.