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City Council hearing is Monday on charter amendments

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council will take public comments during a hearing at 7:02 p.m. Monday to consider an ordinance amending the City Charter. The hearing will be held during the council's regular meeting in the chambers at the Municipal Utilities Building, 700 Litchfield Ave. S.W.

The amendments are being proposed by the Charter Commission, which was appointed by the council in October 2008 and assigned the task of revisiting and proposing amendments to the charter -- the city's governing document. The charter was last reviewed in 1993.

Shawn Mueske, chairman of the nine-member commission, has told the council that the commission is approaching the end of the review process. The commission has proposed a series of amendments and the amendments have been written in ordinance form for the council to consider.

Among the amendments are a preamble and descriptions of the duties of the city administrator and city attorney.

One amendment directs the council to adopt the Minnesota Mayors' Association Rules of Order for City Councils. Previously, the charter directed the council to adopt its own rules and order of business.

Another amendment revises some of the powers and duties of the mayor to conform to what is currently being practiced, such as describing the annual budget as "the Mayor's'' annual budget and requiring city personnel to submit information needed to discharge the budget duty; and adding language that states recommendations of the city administrator that may be suggested to keep the council advised of the city's financial condition.

One amendment retains the Park and Leisure Services Board.

Another amendment proposes requiring a super majority of 6 rather than 5 council members to override actions of the Rice Memorial Hospital Board and the Municipal Utilities Commission. Neither the hospital board nor utilities commission requested the super majority.

In other business, Rice Hospital will ask the council to set a date for a public hearing to authorize issuing $47 million in general obligation hospital revenue refunding bonds. The city had issued bonds in 2002 to finance expansion and renovation of the hospital and wants to refinance the bonds at a lower interest rate.

The council will receive public comments during the open forum; will receive the reports from the Finance Committee, the Public Works/Safety Committee, Labor Committee and Community Development Committee; will consider issuing a special event permit to Baker's Eagle Creek Eatery LLC to serve alcohol during the New Year's Bonspiel Jan. 6-8, 2012, at the Civic Center; and consider issuing Sunday liquor licenses.

Also, the council will set a date for a public hearing to consider rezoning several blocks south of the central business district from medium density multi-family residential to low density multi-family residential. The zoning change will allow single family, duplexes, tri-plexes and four-plexes as legally permitted uses to make financing and resale more feasible for existing single family homes.

The Planning Commission held a hearing and approved the zoning request.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150