WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE PASSES CODE OF ETHICS AND CONDUCT ON TO COUNCIL

The Ways & Means Committee unanimously passed the Code of Ethics and Conduct on to the next City Council meeting Monday night.  The code would be in place for all elected or appointed city officials, city administration, and department heads.  City Attorney Charles Reynolds explained that city employees who are unionized couldn’t be held to the code, because that would have to be a part of their collective bargaining. 

Councilman Jake Fee asked for an explanation regarding Section A.8 and its wording regarding the disclosure of investments, real property, income, and gifts.  Reynolds explained those things only need to be disclosed if a matter would result in an actual gain for a councilmember.  “You would only need to disclose the information one, if you benefit directly, or if as an employee the business for which you’re an employee could benefit by an action,” said Reynolds.  “You’d need to disclose that you’re an employee.  You don’t have to disclose your wages.  You’d probably disclose your position and that your employer would benefit by this decision.  It would only become necessary to disclose specific financial information if you were directly going to benefit on your own.”

The committee approved moving forward with an amendment to the franchise agreement with Otter Tail Power Company and Red Lake Electric. City Administrator Shannon Stassen explained that Otter Tail Power’s software was having issues establishing the previously approved cap of $2,500.00 for Industrial Class businesses and would like to add commercial and residential to that.  Currently, no commercial or residential class properties come near, reaching that cap. The committee also approved moving forward with the agreement for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) required Airport Master Plan with engineers Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. The FAA will pay for 90 percent of the master plan’s cost, which was estimated at $350,000.00. 

The final item on the agenda was the approval of the budget for the Crookston Community Pool which the city is set to take over on July 1.  If approved at the next council meeting, the six-month budget would be $134,679.00, including $47,500 in salaries and $25,000 for equipment and other improvements.  City of Crookston Finance Director Angel Weasner said she attempted to overestimate the wages in the event there is follow through on expanding the pools hours of operation and swim lessons.  “The one we did overshoot I think would be the overtime,” said Weasner.  “I needed to ensure that if there was any overtime, we didn’t have an issue with that because there has been talk of expanded hours.  Nothing has been set in stone at this point in time.  We’re working towards what we would like to do in the future.”

On the equipment and improvement fund, a portion of that would go to a machine for cleaning, and several smaller repairs explained Weasner.  “We had talked about replacing the shower heads and shower knobs,” said Weasner.  “They do get calcium in there built up and become kind of tarnished.  We would like to replace all that and make it look a little newer, especially if they are malfunctioning.  We’d also talked about replacing the flooring with an epoxy that looks much nicer over time.”

At the end of the meeting, Mayor Guy Martin said that the city will need to make a change in their official newspaper as the Crookston Times is no longer a daily paper and therefore publications of official notice don’t fit the required timeline of 14 days.  In order to meet the law and continue to use the Times, the City would have to publish notices two meetings in advance or they have the legal option to designate the City Website as the official publication.  Further discussion will be had on the topic at the next Ways & Means Committee meeting.