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One man’s opinion on local topics

By Staff | Sep 29, 2014

One more time; no one really asked for my opinion, but here it is anyway.

Proposed city property tax levy increased.

There are some mighty big numbers being thrown around by area City Councils this time of year when preliminary city budgets and their corresponding increases in local property taxes are announced.

Blue Earth announced a proposed 13 percent increase while Winnebago was at an 11 percent hike.

Then there was the Wells council, which wanted to do a 24 percent increase, but then decided on a 17 percent proposal.

As most people now know, these are indeed just proposed hikes in budgets and taxes. The actual numbers will be certified in December.

In many cases, the actual numbers will be lower. They cannot, by law, be any higher.

In Blue Earth’s case, the council already have a target of no more than a 3-percent hike in taxes. In order to accomplish that task, they need to do some trimming on the budget.

Many property owners in the county hope they don’t see huge hikes in their taxes. In the case of Wells, citizens there are already facing significant increases in order to pay for a new school building.

Homecoming parade.

Like a lot of folks in Blue Earth, I was happy to see an old tradition be resurrected the homecoming parade on Friday afternoon before the big game.

While the parade may not attract a huge audience, it is still great to see this school pride event involving the community coming back after a few years of hiatus.

Blue Earth city administrator search.

Things are progressing quickly in the search for a new administrator for the city of Blue Earth.

The 20 applications were pared down to seven, and six of those candidates were interviewed by an ad hoc committee of the city. That committee chose three finalists, who will be interviewed next Monday, Oct. 6 by the full council.

Most of the city administrator search so far has not been done in view of the public. In fact, even members of the City Council were not aware of who had applied, or the names of the seven semi-finalists.

This procedure is proper under the state law governing open meetings. Since the full council is not involved in this initial interview process, then it does not have to be open to the public. The reasoning, I believe, is that more people will apply if they know their name will not be known publicly. They may not want their current employer to know they are looking for a new job.

However, when they make the final cut, their name is announced.

This next round of interviews is open to the public. Citizens may attend if they wish, and the press can be present to report on the candidates.

However, the City Council plans to have a closed meeting to discuss the results of the interview and debate which candidate to hire.

This meeting should be open to the public and the press, in my opinion and in the opinion of Mark Anfinson, a media law attorney with the Minnesota Newspaper Association.

The council’s reasoning is that they don’t want the successful candidate to know there was a debate over hiring him. The council plans to get to a unanimous decision.

And that part is fine.

In the case of the Blue Earth Area School Board hiring a new superintendent, the discussion over which candidate to select was an open debate.

Each school board member was given a chance to say which person they preferred and why. The choice was eventually narrowed down to one, and the actual vote to hire the finalist was then unanimous.

That was the right way to do it.

New addition to the Fitness Center.

Congratulations to the city of Blue Earth for the very nice addition onto the Faribault County Fitness Center. They are celebrating this Wednesday with an open house and ribbon cutting.

The change from what the center had for an exercise/weight room before, to what it has now is remarkable. Plus the makeover of other areas, and the addition of new programs, makes it a great place for young and old alike.

Whether you are interested in joining the fitness center or not, don’t miss this opportunity to go and check it out. This is your chance to just go “snoop” and see what the place looks like.

You’ll see it is a wonderful amenity to have in the community.