The Monday, April 9 Rushford Council meeting was relatively short, wrapping up just two resolutions in general business and one ordinance amendment.
First up was a public hearing to consider an amendment to the ordinance establishing salaries for elected officials. The council reviewed several municipalities at the March 25 meeting, before proceeding with adding the hearing to the April 9 agenda. The old rate, ranging from $60 to $100 per meeting (with attendance at 24 meetings per year) was set in 1999. What’s proposed is a hike to $80 to $120 a meeting, putting Rushford more in line with other local municipalities.
With no citizens present during the hearing, the council later approved the amendment unanimously. Proposed changes are be effective January 1, 2020.
In other business, the council also unanimously approved a resolution supporting Local Decision-Making Authority. “Several bills introduced during the 2017-2018 legislative sessions serve to undermine the local control in cities and/restrict local decision-making on a variety of issues,” read the agenda statement.
“There’s a number of cities already supporting the resolution,” added City Administrator Tony Chladek. The 2018 letter mirrors a similar resolution that was sent to legislators from the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) urging the state not hinder municipality policies.
City Clerk Kathy Zacher provided the example of the state limiting Local Government Aid (LGA) funding to those cities which have approved local option sales tax. “They’re looking at LGA as money for frivolous things, which is not something we do. They should not punish a community because its citizens have decided to pass sales tax. Any way they can work it, they’re trying to cut LGA,” said Zacher.
Councilor Terri Benson questioned the state’s reasoning for limiting local decision-making. It was noted by Councilor Sally Ryman that the reasons can greatly vary. “A lot of it is for the metro area. Unfortunately, it affects everybody.”
“They don’t want individual cities making individual rules,” added Zacher.
In a related topic, Administrator Chladek has been given the okay from the city council should he decide to throw his hat in for a position on a League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) Committee, should he choose to do so. Chladek explained to the council that there are four LMC policy committees and that he has a particular interest in the Improving Local Economy Committee and the Improving Fiscal Futures Committee. “I have been asked by LMC staff to consider being a member,” added Chladek.
Improving Economy Committee focuses its attention on issues related to growth management, land use, boundary adjustments, housing, transportation, economic development, and telecommunications. Improving Fiscal Futures, which Chladek noted he would lean more towards serving on, targets policy issues such as municipal financial management, property and other taxes, state aid programs, and financial reporting requirements.
“Chances are smaller communities are not as well represented, so it would be good to have a voice,” noted City Clerk Kathy Zacher. Indeed, a who’s who of current committee members shows of the more than 50 cities represented on the Improving Local Economy Committee, just 13 are from cities of 10,000 or less. Only two are cities of similar size to Rushford. The Improving Fiscal Futures Committee has slightly more small city representation with 16 cities under 10,000, eight of which have populations under 2,500 and two of which represent southeast Minnesota.
Councilor Terri Benson questioned the time commitment that would be required of Chladek. The committees meet three times annually, in addition to the LMC annual meeting. More than 150 cities have representation on one or more of these cities, according to Chladek. “I just want to be sure we don’t have you spread too thin,” clarified Benson. Chladek did not feel there would be any hindrance in his serving.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Monday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.