BAXTER -- As a sort of mid-year review before 2005 budget preparation begins, the Baxter City Council met in a workshop Tuesday to discuss current projects.
In a two-hour meeting, city council members heard an update about efforts to obtain a local option sales tax, the future of Pine Meadows Golf Course, Crow Wing County's pursuit of an emergency management director, waste water issues and to name a drug enforcement officer within the police department.
One concern expressed by Baxter city staffers at the meeting was with the local option sales tax that will go before voters Nov. 2. Jeremy Vacinek, finance director, said the city was to show its intent with the sales tax 90 days before it went to the voters and that time period may have passed. Dennis Coryell, city administrator, said he would request Brad Person, city attorney, review the issue.
Baxter staffers earlier reported the half-percent sales tax, which would generate $15 million and expire in 12 years, would be used to pay for general obligation bonds for all or part of the city's share for expanding water and waste water facilities, constructing and equipping a fire substation and construction of a Paul Bunyan Trail bridge over Excelsior Road.
Baxter Mayor Gary Muehlhausen said with the date of the sales tax referendum approaching, he would still like to see other cities participate in the tax. He suggested Coryell set a meeting with officials from Brainerd, Nisswa, Pequot Lakes and any other communities interested in discussing a sales tax.
"It stands a better chance if it's not just Baxter," said Muehlhausen, relating a conversation he had with Nisswa Mayor Harold Kraus. "The sooner the better. Everyone's sitting out there waiting to see what happens."
In other discussion, the council:
Was updated by staffers on the future of Pine Meadows Golf Course. Todd Holman, community development director, said a Sept. 2 meeting has been set between Dave Mooty, president of Continental Golf Corp., which owns the golf course, and Baxter city staffers. Long Range Planning Commission member John Sullivan said his commission has had discussion on the golf course and, aside from someone buying it, two other options were brainstormed: Having the city change the zoning to public or the golf course owners sell the development rights. The Crow Wing County Parks Advisory Committee is investigating the feasibility of the county buying the 18-hole facility.
Was given an update by Coryell on the Brainerd School District's fiber optic project, which is being installed around Brainerd and Baxter. The school district, which is partnering with several other entities, has asked the city of Baxter to become a partner. The cost of $25,000 per year for 10 years will be addressed in the city's 2005 budget preparations.
Was informed by Dale Walz, interim police chief, that it is the police department's intent to hire an officer this fall to serve on the Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division.
Rescheduled a special council meeting to review police chief applications to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 13.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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