With the start of the new year, Brainerd council members will again pay for information requests concerning the city's budgets.
The issue was brought to the council by City Administrator Dan Vogt, who sought clarification of a September motion that directed Vogt to have financial information regarding the budget readily available at no cost to council members.
Though discussion at the September meeting concerned the 2008 budget only, Vogt said the motion approved didn't make reference to a year. He asked the council if the September motion would be ongoing.
Council member Kevin Goedker made a motion reaffirming the September motion, but it failed by a 4-3 vote, with council members Lucy Nesheim, Anne Nelson Fisher, Kelly Bevans and Mayor James Wallin voting against. Wallin had to cast the tie-breaking vote because council member Mark O'Day was absent.
The vote does not mean information will not be available to council members. The city's information policy states that after so many copies are made or a certain amount of staff time is used, the person making the request is charged. Anyone can look at city information free at city hall.
Olson said he had no problem with Vogt's request for clarification, but he would continue to seek information that would allow him to make better decisions for Brainerd residents.
Bevans said denying the motion allows staffers to seek council opinion when a request is considered time consuming.
In other action, the council:
Approved a $500 donation to the Crow Wing County Historical Society.
Designated the Brainerd Dispatch as the city's official newspaper for 2008.
Directed staffers to take appropriate action on Central Lakes College's request to withdraw the proposed Regional Center for the Performing Arts from the city's requests to the state bonding bill.
Set the council retreat at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 28 at Red Roof Inn. Vogt said he was recommending a different format with only two subjects - the wastewater treatment facility expansion status and the downtown street and utility reconstruction project. Olson also suggested a second retreat for council members to give input on their vision for the city.
Set a joint meeting with the Planning Commission at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 at the Brainerd Fire Hall.
Was informed by Wallin that he would be meeting with Crow Wing County Administrator David Hamilton concerning a possible Mississippi River bridge north of the city.
Was informed that the next regular council meeting would be Jan. 22 due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Was informed by Olson that the Downtown Advisory Committee would meet at 6:15 p.m. Jan. 15 at First Lutheran Church.
Requested the use of state aid for the city's portion of the costs for the Mill Avenue reconstruction project.
Approved entering into a professional services agreement with Widseth Smith Nolting at a cost of $313,000 for the downtown reconstruction project. Olson, a downtown property owner, abstained from voting.
Approved hiring Larson Allen for audit services for the year ending Dec. 31, 2007, at a cost of $49,500, plus $2,000 that will be paid for by the airport and a $4,000 one-time charge for implementing auditing standards. Larson Allen also noted there would be unknown charges for travel and other out-of-pocket expenses. The council requested a-not-to-exceed amount for the unknown costs.
Adjourned to discuss union negotiation strategy.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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