RENU bill heads to committee

NEW ULM — The Reinvest New Ulm (RENU) bills to reauthorize a local sales tax are preparing to head to committee.

At Monday’s Park and Recreation meeting, Chair Toby Freier said Sen. Gary Dahms and Rep. Paul Torkelson have authored bills approving the reauthorization. In the House of Representatives the bill is named House File 659 and in the Senate the bill is named Senate File 548. Torkelson and Dahms are the chief authors of the respective bills. Freier said both legislators are optimistic about the bills passing as part of the Omnibus Tax Bill.

Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz and other RENU leaders plan to take a bus trip to the Capitol to show support for the legislation at hearings in March.

“It would reflect very well on the community and the support here if we have a good showing,” Freier said.

Commissioner Gene Slettedahl said community support in the RENU referendum was vital to getting this legislation before the House and Senate.

In related news, Freier suggested the commission begin planning RENU project construction. Since all six RENU projects are related to parks and recreation, Freier felt it was unlikely all projects could begin at the same time. Projects will need to be prioritized.

Schmitz encouraged the commission to plan the design aspect of the individual projects, including whether to submit a request for proposals or hire a design firm.

“Being prepared is going to help the whole timeline,” Schmitz said.

In other news, the commission waived the fee for usage of the Civic Center during the annual high school sophomores Career Fair. The annual Career Fair is for 10th-grade students in New Ulm and surrounding communities. The event has been held at the Civic Center since 2008. The commission agreed to waive the fee last year. The fee for 2017 was estimated to be approximately $850.

Career Expo committee member Bill Aufderheide said the goal is for the students to recognize New Ulm has valuable jobs, to keep them here after graduation.

Commissioner Jean Prochniak made the motion to waive the fee.

“I think New Ulm needs to keep our kids here,” Prochniak said. “We need to grow, and we need young people to make that happen.”

The Career Fair is scheduled for Wednesday, April 5.