The Becker City Council meeting of Tuesday evening saw the recognition of a local leader who has really been pulling his weight this year.
Council Recognizes Chief Baloun
Becker Police Chief Brent Baloun was recognized by the council for his outstanding work in 2020.
Baloun was an important part of the leadership leading the effort to put out a significant local fire early in the year. He also showed great leadership in the city’s response to COVID-19. More recently, Baloun helped to prepare for the Eric Trump visit to Becker. The council said that Baloun has always run his department with utmost professionalism, even among rocky times when a growing distrust for the police sweeps through the nation.
Baloun was awarded a letter of commendation for all the hard work he has done to keep the city functioning and thriving.
Baloun was moved by the gesture, stating that he was not often without words, but the letter took him by surprise. He said some of the challenges this year — and undoubtedly, the challenges to come — are daunting for an individual, but there was no problem that he couldn’t tackle with the help of his team.
There are some city improvement projects and routine maintenance slated for 2021 that are on uncertain footing given recent events. Phil Knutson of Public Services recommended that the board approve allowing some of the preliminary engineering work be done this fall so that projects are ready to go next year. This would include work on First St. (from Sherburne Ave. to Gardner St.); Bank St. (Sherburne Ave. to Rolling Ridge Rd.); the Industrial Park Pump Station and Forcemain improvement; and Liberty Ln. (from Sherburne Ave. S. to the spot where the 2019 improvements ended.)
The city has updated its tobacco ordinance to match state laws. This changes the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21, increases the fine for selling to minors, and other minute changes that were already made by the state. Vendors holding a tobacco license were informed of the change by letter.
The city is looking to sell some lots that it owns, known as the T-Town Plat. This is an area near Charlie’s Bar & Grill, off of Hwy. 10. The city has already started conversations with one potential buyer.
The council moved to remove the Economic Development Business Incentive program. The incentive was introduced in 2006, and it offered a 1% rebate on landscaping costs and a 2% rebate on other property and project costs.
The project has not been funded for several years, and it has not been advertised to business owners for at least as long. Marie Pflipsen of the Community Development department recommended the council remove the policy altogether, which they did.
It’s possible the incentive will be replaced some time down the line with a similar, updated program.
The Becker Community Center (BCC) is getting an update to their public restrooms. The restrooms will receive new automatic hand dryers (which will be funded by CARES), new dividers between stalls, new faucets, vanities and counters. Bartt Gevens of the BCC said the idea is to give a sense of freshness to the facility.
Becker recently expanded its Energy Drive. Since Xcel Energy is directly benefited by the improvements made, they have agreed to reimburse the city for some of the costs, around $1.5 million. With this reimbursement, there will be a net zero cost to taxpayers.