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Willmar, Minn., council OKs documents for sewer project, orders plans for street work

WILLMAR — Special election winner Audrey Nelsen received a certificate of election from City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday and was sworn into office  Tuesday by Judge Donald Spilseth as a new Ward 4 representative on the Willmar City Council.

Nelsen garnered the most votes in a three-way contest Feb. 12 to fill the year and half remaining in the term of former council member Doug Reese who resigned after he was elected to the Kandiyohi County Board in November.

Mayor Frank Yanish welcomed Nelsen, a certified replanning consultant for Peterson Brothers Funeral Home. Nelsen’s term will end on Jan. 12, 2015, said Halliday.

In other action during a nearly 2½-hour meeting, the council voted to approve the proposed environmental worksheet and facilities plan for the Lakeland Drive interceptor sewer project.

Paul Jurek of Bollig Inc., of Willmar, the consulting engineering firm, said the plan and worksheet are required by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority. The plan will guarantee a place on the Public Facilities Authority’s list for a low-interest loan for financing.

The plan updates the 2006 comprehensive sewer plan for the sewer collection system served by the Lakeland Drive interceptor sewer. The proposed improvement will replace the current sewer line that has reached capacity. The new line will be able to handle future service area needs.

The council also conducted a public hearing and ordered preparation of plans and specifications for $5.29 million in proposed street improvements and projects for 2013.

In personnel-related action, the council approved a recommendation by the council’s Labor Relations Committee to fill two vacant city staff positions: an appraiser and an accounting clerk.

Before making a decision, council members discussed the possibility of waiting to fill the appraiser position until after a consultant completes a study of the city’s governmental structure.

Council members also discussed whether the city and Kandiyohi County should again discuss the possibility of merging the city and county assessing departments and whether the person who fills the vacant city appraiser position would be laid off as a result of the merger.

City Administrator Charlene Stevens said the city and county did look at merging the departments and the city was the one that backed away from it and the county has since moved forward with other priorities.

Stevens said a merger is still a long-term goal. But she said that that doesn’t solve the short-term and immediate need. Even if the departments were to be merged, there would still be a need for this assessing position because it takes a certain number of assessors to do the work and the person would still be needed in a merged department.

In other business, the council supported a Labor Committee recommendation to revise the conflict of interest policy that applies to city employees. Also, the council approved a new conflict of interest policy that would apply to elected and appointed officials.

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