Should the Nisswa City Council change its monthly meeting night from Wednesday?

The council has traditionally met at 7 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month. No one seems to know how Wednesdays were chosen or for how long that’s been the meeting day.

Alan Jenkins asked the council Wednesday, June 17, to change the meeting night to any other night of the week, saying Wednesday is church night for many people. Jenkins said he spoke with businesses and personal friends who support his request.

“We would like to see something done so the good people of Nisswa could come to the council meeting to see what is going on and could get involved,” Jenkins said.

Duane Blanck, speaking as a member of Lutheran Church of the Cross in Nisswa but not for the church, said the church is experiencing 160-175 worshipers on Wednesdays nights, mostly young families who choose to attend church Wednesdays instead of Sundays.

“They may have business with the council, which would interrupt their time of worship,” Blanck said.

Council member Don Jacobson suggested residents submit a petition to better judge the general population’s feelings about the council’s monthly meeting night.

Anyone who has thoughts on this is encouraged to call city hall at 963-4444.

Budget workshop

City Administrator Jenny Max led a first budget discussion before the regular council meeting, where she shared general information regarding known budget assumptions and unknown budget impacts for 2021.

Unknown impacts at this time included the Teamsters police contract; property taxes in terms of timing of collection in 2020 and impacts due to the COVID-19 situation; and property valuation increase or decrease city-wide.

In 2020, the city levied 2,465,015, which was a 5.22% ($122,362) increase over last year’s levy. The 10-year average levy increase is 4.10%, which Max said seemed to be a fair number. Jacobson noted the city’s levy has increased by one-third over 10 years.

Council discussion included using unallocated funds for the 2021 budget to help reduce the general revenue tax levy for residents’ in light of challenges they’ve faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Fred Heidmann was absent from the June 17 budget workshop and regular meeting, held in person at city hall and livestreamed via YouTube.

Public safety

In his written report, Police Chief Craig Taylor said the Nisswa Police Department had a staff meeting June 10 where policies regarding avoiding racial profiling and use of force were discussed in detail. They also have discussed patrol strategies and how to further protect officers and the public from coronavirus infections.

In May, police had 203 calls for service; issued 98 traffic warnings, 16 traffic citations and 16 criminal citations; had 38 agency assists; and made six arrests.

Firefighters had 29 calls in May, including 22 emergency medical services calls, three fire alarms, two gas line cuts, one grass fire and one house fire in Mission Township.

In other business June 17, the council:

  • Learned summer parks and recreation activities were rescheduled for July and so far the only cancellation was spring soccer. Activities include baseball/T-ball programs, tennis, etiquette, Safety Town, soccer camp and art camp, according to a written report. Matthew Hill, parks and recreation director, also shared an annual presentation for his department.

  • Learned the city issued 10 land use permits in the last month.

  • Saw a written report for the Pickle Factory municipal liquor operation that shows May sales of $32,473 compared to $100,886 a year ago. Total expenditures were $46,545 this year compared to $65,828 a year ago. The shutdown due to COVID-19 has affected the Pickle Factory hours of operation.

Depending on state guidelines, the Pickle Factory may offer entertainment outside during the July 4 holiday.

  • Saw a written report for Spirits of Nisswa municipal liquor store that shows April sales of $211,083 compared to $154,370 a year ago. Total April expenditures were $211,024 this year compared to $224,797 a year ago. Preliminary May sales are $430,279 compared to $317,245 in May 2019.

“Sales have been really good. We had our typical June sales numbers already in May,” Brian Farrell, Spirits manager, wrote in the report.

  • Supported an application for Department of Natural Resources Parks & Trails Legacy Grant application for development of the fourth phase of the Gull Lake Trail.

  • Approved road maintenance quotes from Anderson Brothers for $61,346 for crack sealing and for $18,480 for road patching.

  • Granted authorization to bid for wastewater treatment facility project improvements. Bids will be opened July 13.

  • Agreed to allow the Nisswa Firecracker Run on July 4-5.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.