Clarkfield City Council considers fiscal savings
Clarkfield City Council met Tuesday August 18 as part of their regular meeting schedule. The meeting started with exciting news of a Covid-19 testing machine coming to the Clarkfield Care Center. The equipment, which has not arrived yet, will be one of only eleven machines distributed to the state of Minnesota by the federal government.
City Administrator Chris Webb gave a report. In planning for the 2021 Budget and Tax levy, Webb confirmed he had gathered the necessary information from the cities EDA and library. The first budget committee meeting will take place starting next week to determine the 2021 budget and levy needs. The levy must be set by the end of September. The administrator also spoke on his hopes of factoring into the future budget a contract for a Clarkfield comprehensive plan development. An outside firm would be hired for the lengthy process which would establish a task force of interested parties/organizations including the EDA, Council, School, businesses, city staff and more.
The plan would outline long term goals for the community which would include a capital improvement plan, future land use and zoning priorities, long term recreational asset goals, and economic development priorities. Due to the timing the plan would be able to take into account 2020 census data. The regional development commission has a grant for $5,000 to fund cities developing such plans which Clarkfield will pursue to support the project.
In other updates, the administrator spoke to the high volume of calls over the storm weekend which brought down many Clarkfield trees and caused some flooding, over 125 calls were received by the city between August 8 and August 9.
At the request of Mayor Fritz, Administrator Chris Webb looked into antenna equipment used currently on the Clarkfield water tower and policies other communities are starting to use to track and guide water tower installations. Webb researched and consulted with the League of Minnesota Cities, as well as the City of Minnetonka in regards to establishing a Water Tower Telecommunications Policy. Webb developed a policy for Councils review this past Tuesday which was met with a unanimous approval.
LTD Broadband made a proposal to the city to allow LTD Broadband to install equipment on the city’s water tower. In exchange, the company would grant “free internet” services to all city owned buildings in lieu of paying a rental fee. The proposal would reduce city expenses and allow for another internet provider to operate in the city. Currently LTD has similar agreements with cities such as Delavan Minnesota, Chester Iowa, and Hazelton Iowa. Council voted to table to issue until research could be down with other municipalities that would have feedback on the arrangement.
Renesola Power also made a proposal to the city to begin a subscription service with the solar company. Currently the city pays Xcel Energy for its power bill. If accepted, the city would pay ReneSola Power a monthly subscription and receive a bill credit from Xcel on their monthly bills. This proposition could lead to utility bills savings at about $2,000 a year for the city, reducing city expenses. The acceptance or denial of this proposal was also tabled for research with other municipalities who have a like solar agreement.
Clarkfield received multiple bids to install a technology upgrade in the city council meeting room which is need of technology advancements in the age of Zoom. The upgrade would allow for better communication in remote meetings that will likely continue for the foreseeable future. The upgrades would be paid for out of the CARES ACT money that the city has received. A motion was passed by Council to accept the equipment wall mount bid by A & B.
After compiling city expenses in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic it appears that the city will use approximately $20,000 in expenses related to the pandemic. The city received $61,176 to use from CARES ACT funding. Administrator Webb recommended that $6,176 (10%) be designated as contingency and leaving $35,000 to be transferred to the EDA for use as grants for the local community. A resolution was passed transferring $35,000 to the EDA for the purposes of grant distribution.