For the second time in under a year, the City of Clarkfield is issuing a Request for Proposal for the Care Center. The previous RFP did not receive any applications for management. The new RFP is seeking proposals from health care management companies to operate the Clarkfield Care Center under a three-year contract. The city will accept applications until April 6.

Submissions will be submitted to a thorough review process, and councilmembers stressed during the meeting that the RFP does not necessarily mean the city will necessarily change contracts.

The company Ecumen currently manages the Care Center and has not publicly indicated that it is reconsidering it’s current contract with the city, which is open for renewal in October 2018. However, City Administrator Amanda Luepke said that in light of recent withdrawals from other care centers, the city should consider all its options. “Let’s make sure we’re doing our due diligence,” she said during the meeting.

The city previously issued an RFP for the Care Center last November, prompting concerns and outrage from some Clarkfield residents. While the city maintains they are still in the preliminary stages, many residents (in particular Care Center employees) are worried that the city will sell the facility or close it down.

The council seemed more attuned to these concerns the second time around. “We weren’t transparent last time,” said council member Emily Bruflat. She said that the city had to do a better job communicating with employees and keeping the public up to date on any changes.

Nevertheless, Mayor Dale Stringer, III insisted that the city had to prepare for all eventualities. “We need a plan B in case Ecumen decides they don’t want to renew [the contract],” he said after the vote was taken.

Finalists will be invited to make a public presentation at the April 17 council meeting, after which the council will make its final decision. The council is not obligated to accept bids, and can choose to renew their existing contract with Ecumen.

If Ecumen decides not to renew their contract with the city, the new management company will take over operations effective September 1, 2018.

In other news:

City Administrator Amanda Luepke was notified by the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust that the city insurance coverage increased in 2018 by $9,201 due to the number of claims and payouts. The experience modification also increased from 1.0 to 1.65.

The city council reviewed a handful of exemption requests from residents asking to opt-out of the new mandatory garbage collection policy. The council settled several disagreements over how to grant exemptions and clarified that customers can still opt for the bag option instead of home removal (residents will still need to submit an exemption form).

Olson Sanitation dropped-off new garbage cans last week and residents should see no change in pick-up services. The garbage fees will show up on April’s city bill for March services.

The city staff are gearing up for several trainings this month. Public Works Director Dustin Kramer will attend the Annual Water & Wastewater Technical Conference in St. Cloud, and Amanda Luepke will attend the Minnesota Clerks and Finance Officers Association conference at the end of the month.

The city office will be closed March 20-23 due to staff trainings.