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City talks sales tax

By Staff | Feb 11, 2018

Just half of a percent sales tax increase could generate over $2.5 million in revenue for Blue Earth over a 25 year period.

At least that is the hope from the Blue Earth City Council as they voted to add a sales tax referendum to the 2018 voting ballot this fall. And with so many city improvement projects on the docket, the city of Blue Earth may certainly need those extra dollars.

“We’re proposing this tax increase to raise more funds towards infrastructure, the new water treatment facility, as well as city parks, among other projects in the works in our future,” said David Frundt, Blue Earth’s city attorney.

It did not take long for the council to decide to add the referendum to the voting docket. After a few questions, and minor discussion, the council decided to leave the final decision on the tax increase to the voters.

On the topic of infrastructure and development plans for the city, conversation arose on the state of the new wastewater treatment facility. Matthew Cole, Blue Earth’s assistant city engineer from Bolton & Menk, filling in for city engineer Wes Brown, stated the project was moving along well.

Cole revealed the pretreatment’s foundation has been poured, and more concrete and walls are beginning to come into place. The projected completion date for November of this year is still on schedule.

As for the 13th and Moore Street improvement project, Cole informed the council the bidding for the project would begin in March, with awarding of the bid to take place during the first city council meeting in April.

Cole also mentioned during his update for the council that the Safe Routes to School Project may be put off for a little while longer. There are plans already in the works to create a walking trail between Blue Ridge Apartments and the First Street sidewalk which is still set to take place. City administrator Tim Ibisch stated deferment to complete the sidewalk is said to happen with regards to a reconstruction project of Leland Parkway, which is slated for 2020.

The council also had to take some more dangerous matters into account during their meeting as they declared a black pitbull, owned by Chenoa Wright, a potentiall y dangerous dog. The dog “lunged at a United States Postal Delivery man while he was conducting his duties.”

The declaration states the dog did not growl or give warning prior to biting the delivery man’s right calf causing a puncture hole in the right side of his calf. The delivery man was taken to the emergency room for medical attention.

The dog will need to be microchipped, be in a proper enclosure, provide a photograph of the dog to City Hall, provide a warning sign that must be clearly posted on the property, as well as have registered tags and certificate of registration for the dog and pay a surety bond and applicable fees.

The animal was quarantined by animal control at the animal shelter in Blue Earth.

Some conversation came up after this incident between the council members.

Glenn Gaylord requested the council look at city laws and statutes as to what the leash laws and requirements are. He stated on multiple occasions, he’s talked with dog owners who follow the statues of leash laws and have had run ins with other owners with dogs not on leashes.

In their regular meeting, the Blue Earth City Council also:

Introduced Mary Kennedy as the new CEDA?representative for both the city of Blue Earth and Faribault County.

Appointed members of the council to the Blue Earth City Charter Commission.

Approved new business hours for the Blue Earth Wine & Spirits Liquor Store.

The store hours will be Monday through Wednesday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 8 a.m.-10 p.m. with two employees attending. Sunday’s store hours from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. will have one working employee.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord had concerns there was only one store employee on Sundays.

“We’ve been robbed before, I just want to make sure everyone is safe,” said Gaylord.

“If the store gets robbed and there is a gun involved, it will get robbed whether there are one or two employees there,” said city administrator Tim Ibisch.

Accepted the offer of the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority (PFA) bond to purchase a $7,691,210 general obligation taxable sewer revenue note for 2018.

Discussed a trend at the state level of restricting local control of decision making. Councilman John Huisman shared an article in the League of Minnesota Cities that states there were several bills introduced in 2017 during legislative sessions that would undermine Minnesota’s city-state partnership.

“This is a national trend and if we do pass ordinances that legislature withholds LDA from us, we have a right to protect our local government. We need to be fully informed and consistent in supporting our local governments,” said Huisman.

The council agreed and hoped the county commissioners were on board as well. Blue Earth’s next regular city council meeting is set for March 5, 2018.