The Crookston Ways & Means Committee met on Monday night.  On the agenda was the upcoming Mayoral appointment.  The committee discussed but did not decide as to the process that would be used for the appointment. 

There are two methods the council members focused on, one being a possible direct appointment of Dale Stainbrook, the other being an open process with interviews like they’ve done for other vacancies.  Councilman Don Cavalier made a motion to appoint Stainbrook as mayor, which was seconded by Councilman Clayton Briggs.  However, during the continued discussion, council members Tom Vedbraaten, Bobby Baird, and Steve Erickson said they had made a previous decision to address Ward 6 first and should do that, so Cavalier rescinded his motion.  Cavalier said he didn’t see filling the Ward 6 seat changing who the best candidate for mayor would be. “I think that Dale has done an excellent job,” said Cavalier.  “He has a good way about him, twelve years on the council, I believe, and I think he should be in that position.  I think we gain to get him in there because he’s doing a great job.  I think we should move on that one, but they want to postpone it for a while until we get this Ward 6 done.  We’ll see what happens.  Hopefully, we can get it done.”

Councilman Jake Fee said the council should decide on how they want to go about filling the position, saying they should let Stainbrook know at the next meeting.  Vedbraaten said he is torn between a direct appointment of Stainbrook and following the process that has been used for previous vacancies. “Our charter says we appoint a vacancy, so it will be up to the council to appoint whomever we want,” said Vedbratten.  “To be consistent with things we’ve always opened it up to see who wants to put their name in there and go that route.  Dale has been doing a good job for us.  Do we just appoint him, or do we open it up and be consistent the way we’ve done it all along?  What’s the best way?  I’m torn either way.  He does a good job, but then we’re changing things again, is that good or bad.”

The committee also determined that interviews for the Ward 6 council seat would take place on Wednesday, January 22.  The committee further discussed a proposal to contract out residential sanitation services to Countrywide Sanitation Company in Grand Forks.  The rates per month for that service would be $10.90 for trash, $3.95 for recycling, $2.00 for administration plus an additional $7.00 per month for optional seasonal yard waste, and $2.50 for fall cleanup.

The City of Crookston has been running its sanitation service at an annual deficit of $52,000 for several years, said Interim City Administrator and Finance Director Angel Weasner, adding that the city of Crookston could look at raising the rate on the water bill to get out of the red. “At this point, we’ve been running for several years at a deficit of $52,000,” said Weasner.  “So now we are looking at either breaking even or contracting the services out to a different agency.  For the city to break even, it would be an additional $2.00-2.50 added to the water the bill to break even.  I have to do the calculations before the next Ways & Means meeting to present it to the council.”

Stainbrook asked several questions about yard waste, branches, and annual cleanup.  Yard waste and annual cleanup would have additional fees under the proposal, while branches could be collected as long as they fit in the garbage bins.  Stainbrook said he still has questions about the change and thinks the fall and spring cleanups could be a problem.  “I have some unanswered questions yet,” said Stainbrook.  “It’s really a shellshock between what we’re paying now for sanitation service and what it will be.  Right now, I think $16.95 and with the taxes and everything I think you’re pushing over $20.00 a month.  That doesn’t include during the warm months. It’s another $7.00 a month to pick up grass clippings.  I know we’re running about $50,000 in the hole if we up our service a couple of bucks, I think we’ll break even.  If we go a couple of bucks more maybe, we’ll get a few more years out of it.  As a community, you have to remember if we go this route, we’re out of the garbage business.  I think fall and spring clean-up will be a problem as far as who is hauling it.  We have a little bit of homework to do, and I sure hope we hear from the community as far as which route we want to go.”

All of the councilmembers expressed they need community feedback before a decision can be made to continue offering city garbage pickup or to contract rights to the service to Countrywide.  Vedbraaten said people need to call us and give us their feedback.  The committee also moved a bid for the work on the Gentilly Bridge access to the Red Lake River to the City Council for approval.  The bid being considered is from Lyle Wilkens.  Stainbrook said the river access would be an asset to the community. “That’s been in the works for a few years,” said Stainbrook.  “We did get the money, $200,000 from the Legacy (Grant) to do the Gentilly Bridge access.  If you’ve ever been down there, it’s a battle to get in and out. I think it’s going to be an asset to the community.  This river is being used more and more every day.  I’m out there all the time.  Every weekend I’m out somewhere on that river, and I think it’s a great asset.  I think this is going to be tremendous.”

The final business was reviewing committee appointments from Stainbrook.  Those appointments are Andy Hall to the Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau, David Hennings, and Brigette Burzette-Deleon to Park Board, Barry Bingham to the Planning Commission to fill the unexpired term of Rand Hughes, and the reappointment of Terri Noah to the Library Board, which were forwarded to council.  Stainbrook said he took the recommendations of current board members for who would be a good fit, saying he believes they know who the best fits will be. “I prefer that each committee or board if they know someone that would serve well on those boards bring the recommendations to council,” said Stainbrook.  “I don’t think the mayor or, in my case, the acting mayor has the knowhow or should just put anybody I feel should be on that board. I think each board knows who would serve them well, so if they have a good recommendation to come to their board, I’m all for it.”