2021 Sleepy Eye city budget approved at Dec. 8 city council meeting

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

The Sleepy Eye City Council met via Zoom on Tuesday night, Dec. 8.

The first item on the agenda was the annual Truth in Taxation hearing to present the 2021 budget prior to council final approval. City Manager Bob Elston said there were no changes from the preliminary budget the council approved in September.

The final budget reflects a spending increase of 2.31% and a tax levy increase of 6%. Elston said the difference is due to a projection that Local Government Aid (LGA) revenue that comes from the state will likely be reduced. He budgeted for a possible LGA reduction of $50,000.

A motion to approve the  budget, made by Joann Schmidt, seconded by Doug Pelzel, passed by 4-0 vote (Councilor Larry Braun was not present.)

The council approved Mayor Pelzel’s appointments to committees and boards. New appointments include Robert Schmid to Park Board, Briar Braulick to PUC, Joann Schmidt to EDA, Trista Barka to Library Board, Joann Schmidt to Downtown Revitalization Committee. (Pelzel said there is still one opening on the EDA.) Council assignments are: Park Board and EDA - Gary Windschitl, PUC and Hospital Board - Nate Stevermer, Planning & ZOning and Housing & Redevelopment - Doug Pelzel, Library Board and Downtown Revitalization - Christina Andres, Blight Committee and Airport Board - Scott Krzmarzick.

The council approved certifying unpaids (utilities, garbage, mowing, snow removal) to Brown County for collection; and approved write-offs of PUC balances of $4,574 (electric charges cannot be certified to county.) Councilor Nate Stevermer mentioned last year’s write-off was about three times higher.

Councilor Joann Schmidt proposed a raise for Mayor and Council salaries. She said according to state law the increase doesn’t take affect until after the next election (Jan. 2023). Schmidt proposed annual salary of $5,000 for councilors (currently $3,200) and $6,000 for Mayor (currently $4,000). She said the last raise was in 2006. Schmidt called for the first reading of an ordinance for the raises. 

Engineer Dave Palm reported the new roads are open in the 12th Avenue/St. Mary’s Street project area (including Elm Street.) A councilor later told Police Chief Matt Andres he'd received a comment people driving too fast on the new roads. Andres said he has instructed the officers to patrol the area and speed indicators will also be installed.

The new roads built as part of the 12th Avenue railroad crossing project — 12th Avenue and extensions of St. Mary’s and Elm Streets — are open to traffic, but are gravel roads until more work is done next summer.  This is the view from Home Cemetery toward the new railroad crossing.

Elston asked the council for approval to replace the floor in the Community Center main hall and bathroom. He said the tile is distressed and they are looking at vinyl plank. He thinks it will cost about $15,000 and could be done this winter. The council approved up to $15,000.

Good news: Elston read the Chasing Our Tails, Inc. press release. “I appreciate the efforts of Kurk Kramer and Mayor Pelzel on this development,” said Elston.

The Mayor and Councilors thanked Joann Schmidt for her service on council and willingness to serve on several committees.