The longtime need for workforce housing in Pequot Lakes was addressed Tuesday, Feb. 2, at the Pequot Lakes City Council meeting.

Mark Jurchen, who is co-chair with Michelle Lelwica of the Pequot Lakes Housing Task Force, gave a presentation to the council, which has addressed housing needs as a priority for the city to tackle.

Housing is not only needed for workers, but for people moving off the lakes to keep them in the city to increase the tax base, Jurchen said, noting just 50 new homes would increase the city’s tax base and revenue by 4.5 percent.

“It’s a lot more fun to do that than to cut costs most of the time,” he said.

Jurchen said Pequot Lakes is sitting with houses of low value, except those on the lake, and is short on houses of all sizes. Higher-end homes are also needed for people who lived in big cities but can now work from home elsewhere.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Jurchen said just 12% of residents live and work in the community, citing the need to increase that. If people live here, they support local businesses.

Jurchen summarized three grant programs the city could pursue for housing.

Public safety

The council agreed to hire Adam Casanova as a part-time police officer. He was a reserve officer.

The council agreed to assign $20,000 this year to capital outlay carryover for future upgrades for fire department equipment. Budget increases aren’t keeping up with the trend for needed fire apparatus, Fire Chief Tom Nelson told the council.

The council will request other jurisdictions the department serves to contribute funds as well, hoping for a total of $50,000. The intention is to continue this for years to come as well.

Also, the council approved a Fire Relief Association request to increase the benefit level from $4,700 to $6,500 per year of service.

Firefighters had seven calls in December.

In other business Feb. 2, the council:

  • Acknowledged Brian Firchau’s successful completion of his six-month probation as a maintenance worker.

  • Appointed Sam Clement to the park commission through 2023.

  • Extended the temporary salary increase for the city clerk/treasurer through the city administrator’s six-month probation.

At the end of the regular meeting, the council held a closed meeting regarding litigation from a city of Pequot Lakes employee related to employment with the city.

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.