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Committee: Willmar, Minn., City Council should accept $5K donation for study

WILLMAR — The Finance Committee is recommending the Willmar City Council accept a citizens’ group’s donation of $5,000 toward the $25,000 estimated cost of an organization study of city government.

The donation offer from Moving Willmar Forward was first made to the council’s Labor Relations Committee Feb. 13 by group member Wayne Nelson. During that meeting, committee Chairman Steve Ahmann stated his opinion that the $5,000 donation was not necessary.

Also during that meeting, Nelson commended and thanked the council for acting during the past two months on several Moving Willmar Forward recommendations.

Those recommendations included engaging in an organizational assessment of the city, addressing adoption of a code of parliamentary procedure, participating in the Vision 2040 initiative, and considering a conflict of interest policy.

Nelson did not attend Monday afternoon’s Finance Committee meeting when the donation offer was on the agenda.

In an interview, Nelson said he was first directed to present the offer to the Labor Relations Committee. The presentation was moved to the Finance Committee, which recommends action on donations to the city, he said.

Finance Committee Chairman Denis Anderson told his fellow committee members that he thought the city should accept and use the donation toward the cost of the study, provided City Attorney Robert Scott determines there are no legal prohibitions for accepting the donation.

City Administrator Charlene Stevens said she would review the matter with Scott. But Stevens said accepting the donation was no different than accepting other donations, such as a donation from the Disk Golf Club to improve the disk golf course at Robbins Island.

Stevens recommended the council accept the donation, which she said would save the city $5,000. She said the city in January engaged the firm of Brimeyer-Fursman of Maplewood to conduct the organizational study at a cost of approximately $25,000.

In other business, Anderson welcomed Audrey Nelsen to the committee. Nelsen was elected from Ward 4 in a special election Feb. 12. Other committee members are vice chair Tim Johnson and Rick Fagerlie.

In other business, the committee:

n Approved a new intergovernmental transfer agreement with Rice Memorial Hospital for annual payments to the city. The payments take the place of property taxes. The agreement, approved last week by the hospital board, replaces a previous three-year agreement that expired in 2012. The new agreement covers 2013, 2014 and 2015 and increases the formula on which payments are based from 0.75 percent to 0.80 percent of hospital net assets. The new formula increases the current $451,545 payment by about $30,000 annually, said Stevens.

n Approved the annual contract with Willmar Township for Willmar Fire Department service from April 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014. The cost to the township is $33,705.

Dan Burdett

Dan Burdett is the community content coordinator at the West Central Tribune. He has 13 years experience in print media, to include four years enlisted service in the United States Air Force. He has been an employee of Forum Communications since 2005, joining the company after spending two years as the managing editor of the Redwood Gazette and Livewire in Redwood Falls. Prior to his current position, Dan was the presentation editor at the Tribune.

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