1/17/2013 9:19:00 AM 2013 version of city council gets queried about intentions on police department and opens
application process to fill empty council seat
North Branch’s new mayor Ron Lindquist, with council members Joyce Borchardt, left and incumbent Theresa Furman take the oath of office Monday night.
BY DENISE MARTIN
The North Branch City Council chambers was filled to standing room only, as the Legion and VFW Post color guard members presented the colors providing pomp and circumstance to the swearing in of a new mayor and new council member and the return of another. It became clear later in the council meeting that people were there for more than just welcoming of the council. At the public comment portion on the agenda, the city council was chastised by citizens who had heard contacts were already being made with the sheriff seeking cost estimates to consider contracting for policing by deputies. Council candidate Mic Dahlberg said all the candidates stated when they were running last fall that they support the police department. Dahlberg said council needs to make every effort to make good on campaign promises to create a “more transparent” government for North Branch.
Candidate for mayor Kristen Kennedy said looking into contracting with the county is an “irresponsible idea” and said she looks forward to public debate on the issue and what council actually does on the matter. Public comment isn’t meant to become a discussion or action item, so new Mayor Ron Lindquist moved on into the agenda. Ryan Coleman, North Branch Fire Dept. Gambling Manager, presented council with $15,000 from charitable gambling proceeds for the fire fund. Second Asst. Chief Brad Hult said the department had 117 total calls (including mutual aid) in 2012 and that all department officers stay the same for 2013. He added that the search continues for a good deal on purchasing a used aerial/ladder rig. The council approved a hire of a public works staff member to fill a vacancy in the wastewater treatment division, so now there is a vacancy in the public works/maintenance department. Advertising will start right away. With Lindquist winning the mayoral post, there’s also a vacant city council seat. Council voted to officially declare the open seat and agreed to appoint. Lindquist had less than two years remaining for his council term, so state law allows by-passing calling a special election. The plan approved is to advertise for applications for this council seat that expires end of 2014. There will also be advertising for a vacancy on the city EDA. (Joyce Borchardt held that seat and now she’s on the city council.) Applications will be accepted until February 4. See the city website or check with city hall. Council agreed to interview all applicants individually in open session. The council interviews were tentatively set for a special session February 7.
~ The January 28 meeting was cancelled. ~ City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad reported building permit activity growth in 2012 is bringing the city back to the permit levels of 2008. ~ A purchase agreement is still not finalized for Tower Liquor, on Tanger drive, but council took action on a liquor license issue related to this anyway. The lawyer for the purchasers said he expected the purchase agreement to be fully finalized, but the city got a letter from Tower Liquor’s current owners declaring the agreement was void because of the length of time this issue has been unresolved. Council voted to allow the application to sell liquor out of the Tanger Drive location (Tower) to proceed. The vote was 3-1 with Kathy Blomquist opposed, preferring to have a finalized purchase agreement and new (owner) application in front of her. When the company buying Tower Liquors finishes its new liquor store at Marketplace (County Market Foods) the Tower site license must be surrendered. One party can’t hold two licenses at the same time and because North Branch provides a municipal liquor store it can not increase the number of licensees that existed in the city as of 1994, under state law.
A lengthy discussion ensued on two bids to serve as legal newspaper for the city to publish legal notices. The Isanti STAR submitted the low bid, but Jeff Andres, general manager for the ECM newspaper chain, told council the bid was not “apples to apples.” The ECM Post Review bid was $3.80 per inch of text and the STAR bid $2.12. According to Andres the STAR ran a legal notice that the Post Review also printed a few years ago, but the STAR printed product was laid out covering three times the print space (column inches) for the same legal document. Both bids included the same column inch text area and number of lines per inch, however. Council decided to delay action designating the 2013 legal newspaper until “more information” can be looked over.