1/16/2014 3:09:00 PM Construction activity returns; full-time inspector hours do too
by DENISE MARTIN
North Branch City Council, minus Mayor Ron Lindquist, Monday this week unanimously approved the city building inspector returning to 40 hours per week. The city is seeing new housing starts returning to pre-real-estate-crash levels, and city administrator Bridgitte Konrad asked for the extra hours. North Branch had 41 permits pulled in 2012, about half and half for single family and townhome units-- and is on pace to hit that again and more, council was advised.
There are also hours needed for data entry tasks to make the city’s tracking software and permit issuance system function as intended. Another personnel matter for the council this week was approving fire department officers for the next two years. Fire Chief Kevin Grote presented the department’s recommendations, which council okayed unanimously. Officers are: Grote as chief; First Asst. Chief Wayne Blodgett; Second Asst. Chief Brad Hult; Safety Officer is Ryan Coleman; Training Officer is Chris Lorey; Engineer is Matt Koolmo; Asst. Engineer Todd Biederman, Secretary Chad VanDyke, and a new post was created for Public Education, now filled by Mitch Holmes.
Fire Chief Grote also gave the city staff a check for $35,000 out of the fireman’s relief association charitable gaming proceeds for the fire department account. The North Branch Fire Dept. has also been asked to enter into a service contract for Sunrise Township. The specific sections of land that will be North Branch’s responsibility are still being negotiated with Rush City Fire. Grote said the department anticipates maybe seven to 10 calls out of this contract so it “is not significant” as far as stretching the North Branch response capability. Grote said the contract will be for one year and will be reviewed. Extra revenue could run approximately $16,000 depending on the final service land mass in the contract and of course the number of incidents, City Administrator Konrad added.
A brief update on 2013 finances from Finance Director Richard Hill shows North Branch expecting to finish in the range of $200,000 in the black. The municipal liquor store had $160,000 in revenue after bills and debt were paid and sales were at $2.3 million. A request from the water and light company, asking the city to pay half of the cost of an envelope-stuffer/billing batcher machine failed on a 2-2 vote. Kathy Blomquist and Trent Jensen voted aye and acting Mayor Joyce Borchardt and Theresa Furman, were opposed. Borchardt noted the city 2014 budget didn’t include this approximately $1,400 expense. Council went into closed session at the end of the business meeting to discuss a city administrator performance review.