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Budget decisions tonight

By Staff | Dec 6, 2010

Jeremy Germann

After weeks of discussing the 2011 budget, the Blue Earth City Council is set to finally make some decisions tonight, Monday, Dec. 6

And, the public is encouraged to attend, as a formal Budget and Tax Hearing is set for 6 p.m., as part of the council’s regular monthly meeting.

At the hearing, members of the public will be given the opportunity to ask questions or give comments on the proposed budget.

On the table for decisions are such items as funding $50,000 for the Faribault County Development Corporation, trimming $20,000 from the library fund and adding money for building a picnic shelter at Putnam Park.

The council has also discussed freezing salaries at their current levels, postponing or bonding for large equipment purchases and setting aside a fund to help local businesses affected by future street construction projects.

Whether to accept an early retirement proposal from Public Works supervisor Dick LaMont is another item on the budget decision list.

Also, questions concerning possible local government aid cuts also have figured into budget discussions.

Last Monday night the council held another in a series of budget work sessions.

This time they heard from a guest, Wells City Administrator Jeremy Germann.

Germann related to the Blue Earth council members how the supervisory personnel unionized in January.

“It meant the salaries in our 2010 budget were changed dramatically,” Germann says. “And it came at a time when we were facing cuts in our local government aid.”

Mayor Rob Hammond asked if the dramatic changes meant hikes in the salaries, and Germann answered yes.

Hammond also asked the Wells administrator what he thought would happen if Blue Earth cut its supervisors’ salaries by 10 percent – a proposal by Councilman Dan Brod.

“I think you would be facing arbitration,” he says. “And it would not be a winnable situation.”

Germann thought the employees would be thinking about a union immediately. It was much the same situation in Wells, he says, with the police chief, library director and liquor store manager among those who formed the union.

There already were two other city unions in Wells, so now Germann is the only full-time employee not a member of a union.

“My idea is just to make the salaries more realistic,” Brod says. “I think it is wrong that our levy is $1.3 million and over a million of that is for salaries.”