The Clarkfield Care Center Director, Shari McNamara, gave her monthly report to the city council during their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, June 5. She reported mixed financial numbers for the month of April. Her presentation was the first following the decision last month to give the management contract to Minnewaska Health Service, ending decades of partnership between the city and Ecumen.

McNamara informed the council that occupancy at the city-owned facility stood at 26.3, or 73.2%. Although this is still above the budget target occupancy rate of 25 residents, McNamara said that expenses for the same period exceeded budget benchmarks by roughly $12,000. Nevertheless, she added that the Care Center was still in line when financial numbers from the entire year were taken into account.

She also reported to the council that occupancy for assisted living stood at 12.35. Assisted living was roughly $4,200 over the budgeted expenses for April. McNamara attributed these negative figures to several factors, including the expense of hiring new nurses and attendants, overtime mileage, and higher dietary costs. She said the Care Center is looking at ways of more efficiently using resources, and assured council members that numbers for the next month would be more favorable.

City Administrator Amanda Luepke also updated the council on the May 23 visit to the Care Center by Minnewaska Health Services Administrator Chris Knoll. Knoll chatted with Care Center employees and explained how the management transition would develop. “It was very positive and the staff asked great questions,” Luepke said in her report.

In other news:

Luepke also updated the council on the ongoing search for election judges. She said that so far, only one resident had volunteered to serve as a judge. In order to serve, a judge must be eligible to vote in Minnesota and they must be able to read, write, and speak English. They are also required to complete an election judge training course.

The City Administrator also told the council that election clerk training would be held on Thursday, June 7 in Granite Falls. The city office will be closed that morning to allow city staff to attend the required training.

Luepke announced that Clarkfield will be awarded the City of Excellence Award by the League of Minnesota Cities. The award is given to cities under 5,000 people and recognizes recent efforts to revitalize the community. The award will be formally presented to city staff during the June 21 League Award Show and Dinner.

Clarkfield Ambulance squad co-director Melinda Hedman submitted a formal request to the city council to increase the ambulance rate. She recommended that the per run rate increase from $1,000 to $1,200, and the per loaded mile rate increase from $20 to $24. She said these numbers were comparable to other providers in the region. She told the council that rising medical supply costs put the ambulance service in the red last year.

The Council agreed to vote on the request at their next council meeting later this month. The Council also recommended that in the future, price increases be staggered to avoid what council member Jerry Kaupang called “a swift kick.” The council unanimously passed a new sidewalk reimbursement policy. The new program allows residents to initiate sidewalk replacement projects along their property. The city will agree to reimburse the cost of the concrete (or, $1.60 for every square foot of concrete up $300), leaving the resident to cover the cost of labor. Residents are responsible for hiring a contractor and submitting their plans to the city for final approval.

The program will be active from May until October. Because the project wasn’t included in the FY 2018 budget, the city only has funds to support two projects (or, $600 in concrete reimbursement).