During Monday’s Big Lake City Council meeting, Council held a public hearing in regards to next year’s street projects. The improvements would be covered 60% by the residents and 40% by the city, which led to some neighborhoods not wanting their streets to be part of the project, citing financial difficulties. City engineer Layne Otteson hoped to solve issues related to the advanced age of the roads, some of which were 40 years old, as well as improve drainage issues.
Many individuals signed up to speak at the open forum, however many shared the same question as the first speaker, Lottie Rike, and opted not to speak after all. Rike simply asked the question of how the assessment would work for neighborhoods, like hers, that were a part of an HOA - specifically her HOA on Norwood Dr. Several residents spoke in concern that no information was sent out on how the assessment was calculated. The rest had more personal concerns.
Otteson responded by saying the common areas of the HOA are attributed to the properties that border it. Basically, the common areas are attributed to the nearest property, twin homes get the common area in front of them, as does the Norwood Dr. apartment building, etc. Mayor and council noted that they would look into the situation about the missing mailed information.
Later in the meeting, council approved having Northland Securities go out for bids on the city’s behalf for bonds to pay for the project.
Truth in Taxation
As always, finance director Deb Wegeleben gave an overview on how taxes are determined, collected, and used within the city. For those who are interested in this presentation, which is very informative, a recording of the meeting is available at BigLakeMN.org/AgendaCenter (click on the TV icon next to the meeting information, then click the video from Nov. 29.)
The proposed budget for next year is $5,723,889, as opposed to last year’s $5,616,012.
One gentleman spoke during the public hearing in order to ask how his property value was determined, and Wegeleben directed him to the county assessors.
Removal of FT Fire Chief Position
Part of the changes for the next year’s budget was to remove the fire chief position from the city, to which council member Sam Hanson noted his opposition. This means that the full time chief position (with full time benefits) will be replaced by a part time position. The department will still have a chief, but it will no longer be a fulltime position.
One resident inquired about this decision, and whether it would make the city less safe in any way, which council assured him it would not.
Gloria VanDeBrake of the Chamber of Commerce announced that the Christmas trees in Brown’s Park have been decorated and are available for viewing. She thanked those involved in the project. She went on to encourage those listening to shop local for Christmas gifts, as most of the money spent within the community will be circulated within the community. Finally, Santa will be visiting The Buff Sunday, Dec. 5 from 1-3 p.m. and will be distributing free gifts to kiddos who come to see him. This event is sponsored by the Big Lake American Legion.
In Other Business, the Council:
• Approved an interim use permit for a gentleman who wished to store his RV on his driveway;
• Provided comments on a PUD for Capstone Homes for a development of townhomes off of Marketplace Dr.;
• Heard monthly department reports.