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Pequot Lakes city staff receives guidance on budget preparations

Pequot Lakes city department heads are preparing their 2015 budgets and will meet with the city council Tuesday, Aug. 19, to go over the first proposals.

The council agreed Tuesday, Aug. 5, to ask department heads to prepare budgets that reflect a 3 percent increase over this year's budgets, and to prioritize items in case the council allows a higher increase.

Council member Dave Sjoblad believes the city is falling behind in upkeep of infrastructure and streets, saying those budgets get hacked each year.

"I think we're getting behind. We were catching up for a long a time. We were doing really well," Sjoblad said, suggesting the council give guidance as to what budgets possibly can include a bit more of a proposed increase.

Dog park

Plans continue for a dog park in Pequot Lakes, with the most recent location being at the water tower property just south of downtown off Highway 371.

A dog park previously was to be located at Sibley Lake Park, but the Park Commission recommended a change in location because of size constrictions at Sibley Lake Park.

Public safety

The council agreed to send a formal letter in support of a shared services grant application for the fire department. Fire departments in Brainerd, Crosslake, Cuyuna, Deerwood, Emily, Ideal, Mission, Nisswa and Pequot Lakes agreed to seek this grant funding, which would be used to study how the departments can work together.

The council approved the 2015 Jenkins city ($41,200) and Jenkins Township ($27,024) police contracts, which are the same as the 2014 contracts.

The council also approved the 2015 animal control enforcement service agreement with Donald Hannahs at the same rate as 2014.

In other business Aug. 5, the council:

• Accepted the resignation of volunteer firefighter Matt Kieselbach.

• Adopted an ordinance amendment to the city code regarding vegetation removal. Staff will be able to issue permits for intensive vegetation removal, and a conditional use permit will no longer be required. Staff will forward plans received from a professional forester to the Department of Natural Resources for review and comments before issuing a permit.

The amendment allows for more flexibility for property owners who want to responsibly harvest timber from their land.

• Awarded the North Washington Avenue streetlight bid to Holden Electric Co. for $16,800.

• Agreed to move forward with the design of Old Highway 371.

• Appointed Dan Ronning to the Park Commission as part of expanding the commission from five to seven members.

• Hired Debra Marty as administrative finance assistant. The city received 36 applications and interviewed five.

• Agreed to apply $5,726 the city received from the Heartland Cable Commission toward playground equipment in the city. Council member Jerry Akerson voted no. The city received the cable commission funds for its share of the franchise fee distribution.

Council member Scott Pederson was absent Aug. 5.