Special question to be added to ballot for Pierz voters

By Terry Lehrke

Residents of Pierz will have one more choice on their election ballots this November. Not only will they decide who will run their city government, but how it will be run.

Pierz currently runs under the Standard Plan Statutory system of government, whereby the council is in charge of making all decisions for the city with all city employees being accountable to the council. According to Peter Vogel, the city’s attorney, under the current system, “The council is in charge of making all of the decisions from ‘do we put in a million dollar sewer system’ to ‘how many paper clips do we buy,’ to ‘who should we hire as a seasonal greenskeeper at the golf course.'”

The question Pierz voters will be asked is whether the city should convert its form of government to provide for a council-manager type system known as Optional Plan B. This option is afforded Pierz under Minnesota Statutes since its population currently exceeds 1,000.

With a council-manager form of government, a city manager is appointed by the council. The city clerk would no longer be an elected position, nor would the treasurer. However, the council would contain the same number of members.

The current city clerk would no longer carry that title, but would remain a voting member of the council. The city manager and the council would appoint a city clerk who would hold a regular job with the city.

The treasurer position, currently an elected position (but not a member of the council), would be appointed by the council as well.

The city manager will have more responsibility in day-to-day operations of the city, and while the council maintains overall direction of the city and city staff, the city manager is the only staff member directly accountable to the council, giving the different department reports at the council meetings.

Tom Thielen of the League of Minnesota Cities will be on hand at an Oct. 9 informational open house at 6 p.m. to explain Optional Plan B and what it means to the city and how it is governed. The location of the open house has not yet been determined.

Led by acting mayor Daniel Sauer, because Mayor Mike Menden would be arriving later, the council:

• Tabled until Sept. 11 the appointment of election judges;

• Granted permission for Aflac Insurance representatives to give a presentation on the insurance to full time city employees and to members of the volunteer fire department;

• Tabled until Mayor Menden’s arrival later in the meeting the disclosure of the Aug. 21 closed meeting held to address personnel issues. When Menden did arrive and took over as mayor at the meeting the disclosure was again tabled since no action would be taken at this meeting;

• Was updated on the storm sewer project by Jim Schulz of SEH and told work field change orders would be presented at the next meeting;

• Approved a $1 pay raise for the utility billing clerk effective Sept. 1, with another review slated for October;

• Was informed several copies of a documentary called “Great Waters Gone Bad” had been sent to Pierz from the League of Minnesota Cities. The documentary is about Minnesota waters and their cleanliness and is available for any resident to view. Council member Kathy Kahlhamer suggested making a copy of the CD available at the local library and another at the school, with one being left at city hall;

• Set the truth in taxation meeting date for Monday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. with a continuation being set Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m.;

• Tabled the decision on a mutual agreement request from the city of Onamia, until Fire Chief Toby Egan was given the opportunity to review the agreement;

• Tabled the decision to build a fence around the River Park Estates Retention Pond until the property was deeded to the city. Also tabled was a decision as to whether or not reimbursement would be made to subdivision landowners who paid a fee for the rentention pond when purchasing property from the original developer. Council member Herb Broschofsky volunteered to “put some numbers” together for review at the next meeting. The final agreement will be drafted by the city’s attorney;

• Disregarded a request for a donation to the Special Olympics, expressing feelings that taxpayers could make the decision to donate as individuals;

• Received Bob Otremba’s public works report outlining how fill from digging the basement of Ryan Przybilla’s new home on Ronald Avenue would be used to fill in a steep incline on the east side of the property. A meeting was first held with a representative from the Morrison County Soil and Water Conservation office on wetlands status and where the fill could be used;

• Heard Police Chief Steve Boser’s report on the status of NIMS (National Incident Management System) training;

• Supported putting the recycling calendar in the city newsletter to alleviate residents’ confusion on the dates of pickup;

• Approved a lease agreement with Dura Supreme on lot 6 in Industrial Park, as well as first right of purchase on lots 3, 4 and 5;

• Approved Council member Gritzmacher’s proposal to raise fire officer’s pay $200. The city would be responsible for the first $100 and the Rural Fire Authority would cover the remaining $100; and

• Tabled a request for an additional officer on the fire department with the title of assistant secretary.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Pierz City Council will be Sept. 11.

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