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Crosslake City Council Moves Forward On Study of Local Option Sales Tax

Web posted April 16, 2019
By Bill Monroe, Northland Press Correspondent

The Crosslake City Council heard a report from a group studying the possibility of implementing a local option sales tax in Crosslake. Such taxes are being implemented in communities across the state for a variety of purposes. In Crosslake, the idea would be to capture revenue from tourists as well as residents to help fund infrastructure needs rather than relying solely on property taxes. Based on the report the council received, it voted to have the University of Minnesota do a local option sales tax analysis study for Crosslake at a cost of $750 and appointed a committee to continue to research the idea. Committee members include council members Dave Schrupp and Aaron Herzog, Chamber of Commerce Director Cindy Myogeto, Public Works Director Ted Strand, City Administrator and Treasurer Mike Lyonais, former mayor Darrell Swanson and Leah Heggerston.

Herzog, Myogeto, Schrupp and Swanson visited the city of Walker to learn more about that city’s experience with a local option sales tax approved by voters in 2018. That tax is one and one half percent and has resulted in $688,366 in additional revenue through January of 2019. It was enacted in March of 2018 and approved by 61 percent of the voters. Seventy-six percent of the city’s registered voters voted in the election.

Discussions to date have focused on a much lower percentage tax in Crosslake should one be proposed. Any proposal would have to be approved by the council, then put to a vote by the people and approved by the state legislature. The first time a proposal could be placed on the ballot would be in 2020.

New Police Officer
The council approved hiring a sixth full-time police office on the city’s police force. Police Chief Erik Lee said the hire was included in the current city budget. He said that there are six full-time officers in Pequot Lakes, Nisswa and Breezy Point and that the number of police calls in those towns are lower than the number of calls in Crosslake. There were 2,800 calls in 2018 and 3,000 in 2017, he said. He said he would choose the new officer from a pool of current part-time officers who are trained and ready to serve. Mayor Dave Nevin voted against the motion to hire the additional officer.

Traffic Study

Lyonais said a group of stakeholders is considering working together to help fund a traffic study to measure the impact of traffic from the Crosswoods Golf Course to the new Crosslake Community School. The study would look at motor traffic as well as pedestrian, snowmobile and ATV traffic. It would involve the National Park Service and draw upon the Crosslakers Blue Zone Connectivity Study. A grant would be written to pay for part of the cost of the study with partners in the project dividing the remainder of the cost. Part of the he city’s role would be to help coordinate the effort.

Yard Waste Disposal
Crosslake residents may soon be able to dispose of yard waste at the city’s maintenance facility again. The area has been closed to such use for months due to commercial users dumping there. Lyonais said the council will be hearing a proposal to have the site open one or two days a week for Crosslake residents dumping yard waste only. Automatic gates and security cameras would be installed to help police the area and limit the hours of access. Councilman Gary Heacox encouraged staff to move quickly to get the facility open to the public.

Workforce Housing

During Open Forum, Pat Netko told the council that the Crosslakers group supports the development of workforce housing in Crosslake. Leah Heggerston said there have been some misunderstandings about the current proposal from Babinski Properties to build a workforce housing apartment building behind Andy’s on County Road 3. She said the builder is willing to pay for any associated road costs and that the city’s long-range comprehensive plan includes rental developments the size of the one proposed by Babinski. She also suggested that, given the number of new members on the city council and the planning and zoning commission, a workshop on what is in the comp plan would be helpful.

Transparency
Mayor Nevin asked the council to consider a motion to waive the $10 per DVD fee to have DVD’s made of every meeting where he was in attendance either as a council member or as mayor, approximately sixty-five in all. Councilman Dave Schrupp reminded Nevin that the meetings are available to view on You Tube and that it takes staff time to prepare the DVD’s and that he didn’t feel it was right to make an exception to the payment policy for the mayor. Nevin said he would withdraw his request for a motion.

During the discussion it was noted that while special meetings are recorded, they are not posted on You Tube or on a link to You Tube on the city’s website. Tom Swenson asked the council to consider posting the agenda for special meetings a link to You Tube videos of the meetings on the website. The council voted to adopt Swenson’s suggestions.

Mayor Nevin announced that he would be holding a listening session Tuesday, April 16 at 6 pm at the Crosslake Community Center to discuss topics of interest with the public.

Donations
The council passed a resolution to accept the following donations:
• $6,500 from the Crosslake Ideal Lions Club for a CPR machine;

• 1,163.50 from the Crosslake Fire Relief Association for ladder, hooks and beanies;

• $55 from the PAL Foundation for Bridge Room rental and

• $25 from the Dorothy Seipp Memorial for the Fire Department.

Other Business
In other business, the council:
• Heard from Laurel Prem, a volunteer grant writer working with Step Up MN informing council members about a Step Up meeting to be held Thursday, April 18 at 6 p.m. at the Brainerd Public Library regarding the need to help the area’s hurting kids;

• Voted to donate $250 to the Emily Food Shelf and to place the amount in the next year’s budget;

• Voted to write a letter of support for a children’s museum project proposal in Pequot Lakes;

• Amended the city’s record retention policy to store video recordings of meetings for seven years instead of three months;

• Voted to grant permission to allow the American Legion to add an outdoor patio subject to approval by the planning and zoning commission;

• Voted to support legislation to change the formula regarding local government aid;

• Received but took no action on a report from Crow Wing County regarding work planned to be done on highways 36 and 3 and acquisition of right-of-way related to those projects;

• Passed a resolution approving support for a county road project on highway 36;

• Voted to support legislation to allow cities to create street improvement districts that would allow the collection of fees from property owners within the district to fund municipal street maintenance, construction and upgrades;

• Approved a policy to regulate small cell wireless facilities within the city limits of Crosslake;

• Approved declaring a 2015 Aluma single axle trailer owned by the fire department as surplus for sale;

• Heard Bill Monroe thank Chip Lohmiller and other first responders for their quick and professional response to two 911 calls to his home to aid his late wife Chris when she was battling breast cancer;

• Approved getting quotes to extend natural gas lines to the community center maintenance shop;

• Approved exploring development of a logo for the parks and recreation department;

• Asked Parks and Recreation Director T.J. Graumann to meet with neighbors near the Crosslakers Dog Park to see if they would approve delaying construction of a proposed berm with 30 trees this spring before the park opens and

• Went into closed session to discuss land negotiations.

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