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Council to petition for change in city charter

Commission will look at nepotism clause

NEW ULM — The City of New Ulm is considering convening the City Charter Commission to review changes, including the nepotism clause, and define the City Manager’s powers and duties.

The City Charter Commission meets at least once per year, upon presentation of a petition from the voter or upon resolution from the council.

A resolution to convene the commission will come before the New Ulm City Council at its meeting Tuesday, Oct. 19. The resolution states the city needs to amend the Home Rule Charter for the city. The council agenda states the primary reason for convening the commission is to consider the nepotism clause in section 24 of the charter; define department heads in section 75 and potential removal of commission from the charter to be placed in the city code.

The nepotism clause in the city’s charter states it is incompatible for the mayor or a city council member to have an immediate family working for the city. In the last year, this provision in the character has had a significant impact on the city. In October 2020, Second Ward City Councilor Lisa Fischer was forced to resign from the council because her son worked for the city. Newly elected Council President Andrea Boettger’s husband was forced to leave a part-time position with the Park and Recreation.

The provision preventing a council member or mayor from having family work for the city was part of the first charter in 1887. It was left out of the charter in 1932 but was brought back in 1973. The provision was not well-known among city officials. Before Councilor Fischer’s resignation in 2020, none of the council was aware the provision existed.

The New Ulm League of Women Voters has planned to lobby the city council for the removal of the provision.

By convening the Charter Commission, the city could look to changing this clause as well as reviewing other issues in the charter.

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A public hearing will be held on the reassessment of the unpaid Lakeside Village 2005 and Dacotah West 2007 Special Assessments.

The utility and gravel roadway improvements for Lakeside Village Addition were previously assessed on December 20, 2005, and for the Dacotah West Addition on December 18, 2007. After making some initial payments, the developers did not pay any taxes or special assessments for five years and the bulk of the subdivisions went to tax-forfeited land.

The Phase I improvements in Lakeside Village included sanitary sewer main, water main, sewer and water end services, storm sewer stormwater quality pond, grading, aggregate base and site grading improvements. The Phase II improvements included site grading and stormwater quality pond improvements only.

Brown County established a process to set a purchase price on the tax-forfeited lots within the two divisions and the New Ulm City Council adopted a plan to reassess the unpaid balances on each parcel sold by the County with a ten (10) year repayment schedule. The Lakeside lots would have a 5.5% simple interest on the unpaid balance and the Dacotah lots would have a 6% simple interest on the unpaid balance.

The Lakeside addition assessments are $9,748.59 for each lot for the first phase and $2,917.88 for each lot for the second phase.

Dacotah’s addition assessments are $25,921.51 for the lot.

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A second public hearing will hold on the final assessment rolls for the 2020 Utility, Street and Alley Improvements. The improvements constructed on the 2020 Utility, Street and Alley Improvements include seven improvements.

1.) Front street from 3rd South Street to 7th South Street, reconstruction and reconstruction of the existing roadway section including excavation and replacement of subgrade, aggregate base, bituminous paving, pavement sub drains, storm sewer extension and inlet structure reconstruction, concrete curb and gutter, pedestrian sidewalk ramps, street lighting and selective replacement of concrete driveway pavement and sidewalk.

2.) Second North Street from State Street to Franklin Street, one block of water main construction, reconstruction of the existing sanitary sewer main, sewer and water end services, and reconstruction of the existing roadway section including excavation and replacement of subgrade, aggregate base, bituminous paving, concrete curb and gutter, concrete driveway pavement, pedestrian sidewalk ramps, and selective replacement of concrete sidewalk.

3.) Palmer Avenue from Highway 14 to 150 feet South, modify Highway 14 roundabout, construct a water main, sanitary sewer main and roadway improvements including concrete curb and gutter, concrete sidewalk and street lighting to serve the National Guard Armory and FMS Site.

4.) Front Street from 1st North Street to 3rd North Street, reconstruction of the existing water main to increase the available fire flow rate in the area.

5.) Storm Water Treatment Pond in Oak Bluffs Fourth Addition, pond excavation cleanout maintenance to establish original grades.

6.) Concrete Sidewalk and ADA Improvements to complement the improvements scheduled within the 2020 Surface Reconstruction Project by reconstructing pedestrian sidewalk ramps to meet current ADA requirements as per New Ulm’s adopted ADA Inventory and Transition Plan.

7.)Oak Street right-of-way from Oak Street to Raymond Drive, construct bituminous maintenance mat.

The assessments are payable over ten years along with a 2.60% simple interest charge on the unpaid balance.

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The installation of the Yield sign at 19th N. Street and Franklin. The Safety Commission recommending the sign installation, citing sight-line obstructions for east-bound traffic. The intersection currently has to stop control on the east side of the intersection on 19th N. Street near the Brown County License Bureau.

The council will also consider a request from the Sister cities Commission to place a sister cities recognition sign on Highway 14 west of New Ulm and Highway 15 South of New Ulm. The sign would be placed under New Ulm’s population signs. The sign would read: “Proud Sister Cities Partner of Ulm & Neu Ulm, Germany.”

Due to the size of the sister cities’ signs, all existing community recognition signs would need to be removed. The new sign on Highway 14/15 near the Minnesota River bridge has no stringer installed for the installation of an additional sign. MnDOT would install the stringer and modify the sign for a fee of $200. The creation of the new signages is quoted at $306.30. The total project cost is $506.30.

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