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No raise for NUCC salaries

Submitted photo “New Ulm Strong” signs, featuring Hermann the German, are stacked in the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce office. The New Ulm City Council approved placing the signs near the Willkommen signs at the entries to New Ulm.

NEW ULM — The salary of the mayor, city council and public utility commission will remain unchanged. The New Ulm City Council reviewed salaries amounts Tuesday and chose to maintain the current figures.

The last changes to these salaries were effective Jan. 1, 2013. Currently, salaries are $10,500 for the mayor, $8,000 for councilors and $6,000 for commissioners.

In 2018, the council asked the Finance Director Nicole Jorgensen to bring the issue before the council every two years. According to Minnesota State Statute, any change in salary must be made before a general election, to be in effect Jan. 1 the following year.

Jorgensen presented the councilors with a survey recently completed by the city of Marshall regarding the salary compensations from 19 cities of comparable size. New Ulm falls in the middle in terms of salary compensation. Among the 19 cities surveyed, New Ulm was tied for third in highest pay for councilors and fourth-highest for Mayor. No survey information for Public Utility Commissioners (PUC) was available.

Councilor Les Schultz said he was most interested in data on the PUC compensation because he did not know how New Ulm fit with other commissions.

Councilor Lisa Fischer agreed and wonder if any of these cities had Utility Commission. Fischer commented that New Ulm’s compensation for city councilor and the mayor was in the middle compared to other communities; especially when additional stipends and medical coverage.

“Overall we fall in the middle which is fine with me,” Fischer said.

Schultz made the motion to have no increase in salaries but asked staff to bring back a survey on PUC compensation in other cities. The motion was unanimously approved.

Hermann Welcome Signs

Aluminum Hermann the German monument signs will be placed next to the Willkommen signs at the entrance to New Ulm.

The Hermann sign contains the message “New Ulm Strong,” the tagline for the city during the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce requested these signs be placed at the Willkommen signs at 7th North Street, 20th South Street and Highway 14. These signs are 8 feet tall made of aluminum with a vinyl wrap of Hermann.

These Herman signs will be in place through September 7.

Public Hearings

The council approved a noise variance related to Crazy Days event from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, July 24. The variance would allow an outdoor screening of a film between 1st North Street and Center Street between these hours.

Originally the New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce was requesting a noise variance for Friday and Saturday. The chamber planned to hold a Biergarten and Street dance at the same location on Saturday, but this event was canceled due to COVID concerns.

The film is expected to end around 10:30 p.m. Friday. An ordinance was required for the screening because it involved amplified music after 10 p.m. No comments were received during the meeting and the variance was unanimously approved.

A public hearing on final assessment rolls for the 2019 surface reconstruction project was held. The hearing was for assessments on the removal and replacement of pavement surface on 1st South Street from Washington Street to Payne Street; 5th South Street from German Street to Franklin Street; 8th South Street from German Street to Broadway and 9th South Street from German Street to Broadway. The assessment is payable over 10 years with a 3.4% simple interest charge.

A notice of the hearing was sent to 62 parcel owners. A residential parcel was assessed $1,485. The city received a few calls and emails with questions regarding the assessment, but no written comments. No comments were received at the hearing. The council formally adopted the assessment role.

Traffic Control

Installations

The council approved three traffic control measures recommended by the New Ulm Safety Commission.

This month, the commission unanimously recommended the installation of a stop sign at the intersection of South Park Road and 17th South Street. Staff received correspondence from a property owner who lives near South Park and the intersection. The concern is pedestrian traffic through the park and the speed vehicles travel through the South Park cartway onto 17th and 18th South Street.

The southern leg of South Park Road has a stop control at the intersection with 18th South Street. The safety commission recommend the installation of a stop sign on South Park Road where it intersects with 17th South Street citing the proximity of this intersection and the intersection of 17th South Street and South Franklin Street, park pedestrian traffic, mirroring the control at 18th South Street and vehicle speeds through the parking area.

Schultz said traffic near a park is always a concern and made the motion to approve with a second from Councilor Larry Mack. It was unanimously approved.

The council approved a stop sign at the community center entrance. The safety commission recommended a stop sign be placed at the parking lot exit after a request from Heartland Express.

A stop control already exists across from the community center on 6th North Street. The installation would provide full stop control for the side street traffic along German Street. The council was surprised no stop sign was already at this location. The council unanimously approved the installation.

The installation of enhanced crosswalks across 16th North Street at the intersection of Jefferson and Franklin Street was also approved by the council. The Safety Commission cited the proximity to the Washington Learning Center campus and North Park to deem the markings necessary at these locations. City Engineer Joe Stadheim said increased use of the splashpad has led to an increase of pedestrians crossing 16th N.

K-9 Unit

The council authorized the purchase of a trained canine from McDonough Police K-9 for $17,500.

Last year, the city retired the city’s former police dog due to medical issues. The city has inquired into replacing the dog. After researching different programs, the New Ulm Police Department is recommending a dual-purpose dog that has been pre-trained. A dual-trained dog is certified in narcotics detection and search/rescue.

Councilor Schultz said he was a strong supporter of the K-9 unit for a variety of reasons including the safety of officers. He said the canine can go into a situation that was dangerous for an officer. “That’s well worth $15,500,” he said. The animals were also useful for search warrants.

Police Chief David Borchert said the Department wants to eventually have two canine dogs to ensure a K-9 unit was always available for work. Borchert said with a single canine, there can be a delay if the handler is off-duty when the animal is needed. At this time the Department was only asking for a single canine. Borchert said he was working to budget for the second animal in a few years.

Schultz made the motion to purchase the police K-9 with a second from Fischer. The motion was unanimously approved.

Aviation Fuel Contract

The city approved entering into an unbranded aviation fuel contract at the New Ulm Municipal Airport with Titan Aviation Fuels.

New Ulm Flight Services (NUFS) terminated the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) agreement with the City at the end of May. NUFS managed the day-to-day operations at the airport which included fuel sales.

Staff reached out to two aviation fuel providers and requested proposals for fuel services. Staff received and reviewed those proposals and recommends entering into a contract with Titan Aviation Fuels after review of the proposal documents.

Stadheim said the initial contract with Titan was for five years, but the city is hoping to have a new FBO before that. Titan was willing to go with a three-month contract and a month to month contract to follow. If a new FBO were able to start service at the airport, the contract could be transferred or terminated.

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