Sleepy Eye City Council meeting report.

The Sleepy Eye City Council met twice on Tuesday, Dec. 11. Once, in a special meeting at noon and again at the regular 7 p.m. meeting. The noon meeting was scheduled to meet with Liza Donabauer, of DDA—the search firm that is coordinating the process of hiring a new city manager, to select the finalists for the position.

Those involved in choosing the finalists were the City Council members, Public Utilities Commission members, current City Manager Mark Kober and incoming City Councilor Gary Windschitl. Last week they each received resumes and other information, including a video of a skype interview, on seven candidates for the position. Donabauer asked each to vote for their top two candidates, identified by number only at this meeting. The votes were tallied and the council agreed to remove two candidates from the finalist list, as one received no votes and one received one vote.

A motion passed to approve the list of five candidates to be interviewed and to reimburse them for travel and lodging expenses. Interviews will be conducted Jan. 7 and 8. There will be a community meet and greet on Monday, Jan. 7 from 4 to 6 p.m. at City Hall. On Jan. 8 the City Council will complete the interviews and expect to have a selection to approve at the regular council meeting that night.

Donabauer contacted Kober before the evening council meeting to confirm that all five candidates accepted the invitation to interview. Kober said the candidates are: Natalie Muruato, Beach, N.D.; Brenda Fox-Howard, Swanzey, N.H.; Kelli Truver, Kingman, Ariz.; Angela Grafstrom, Badger, Minn.; and Brent O’Neil, Sioux Falls, S.D.

The Herald-Dispatch expects to receive a press release with more information on the finalists in the coming days.

In other business:

•The council conducted the truth in taxation hearing and approved the 2019 budget. The preliminary budget called for a local tax increase of 12.74 percent, but after work by the finance committee and Kober, the final budget includes an increase of 7.12 percent over 2018, an increase of $88,000 in local tax asking. The city also receives revenue from the state (Local Government Aid) and utilities.

•Heard from engineer Dave Palm on the 2020 street improvement project. A Preliminary Improvement Hearing was set for Thursday, Jan. 24, 6:30 p.m. at the Event Center. The project includes 71 blocks, with about 425 properties to be assessed some portion of the cost. The total cost is estimated at $8.8 million, with $1.3 million assessed to property owners. Utility work will be done in 2020, with concrete and bituminous work in 2021.