After a few months of discussions, the city administrator job was not quite ready for advertisement.

What was supposed to be the final discussion and approval or refusal to add the position to the 2018 budget did not progress, as the Spring Grove City Council felt there were still missing pieces from the job description.

The position is intended to help the council focus on long-term goals. The administrator will also attend other city meetings, such as the Economic Development Authority (EDA), Parks and Recreation, Planning and Zoning, and also community meetings like Spring Grove Area Past, Present, Future.

“It’s not just for them to attend the meetings, but to pull it all together,” Schroeder said. “It’s long range planning that no one does and to keep us on track to match that.”

The city administrator will also handle personnel issues. Part of the job will include acting as a liaison for the city and to communicate the city’s interests.

“We want to make sure the city’s interests are represented at all those meetings,” Councilmember Scott Solberg said. “That’s one of the big deals. We’re blessed with volunteers, and that’s great. Sometimes there are assumptions that ‘the city would love this,’ but that’s not always the case.”

The administrator would work about 32 hours a week with some days spent at city hall and/or attending meetings.

The person will also be cross-trained at city hall to fill in for Stephanie Jaster or Lyn Solberg’s position when they are absent.

“We are not getting rid of Stephanie’s (Jaster) position ... or anyone at city hall,” Mayor Sarah Schroeder stressed.

The drafted job description has a few overlaps with City Clerk/Treasurer Erin Konkel’s position. Konkel noted there might be time constraints with training and the November Mid-Term Election. She also noted she already handles many of the duties listed for the city administrator.

“I do a lot of the job already,” Konkel said. “There’s always more you can do, but I’m one person.”

Councilmember Karen Folstad said that was another reason for the city administrator position, because the council did not expect Konkel to handle everything.

The goal of hiring a city administrator is to also reduce Community and Economic Development Associates’s (CEDA) time with the city to a project-only basis, though that change would not happen right away.

“They would take over what Courtney (Bergey) does for us,” Schroeder said. “CEDA is wonderful. They have coordinated a lot of things for us, but it would be nice to spend that money on someone from here who could coordinate and do a few other things along with it.”

CEDA helped the council to create the job description for the city administrator position and will help them with the search for a potential employee.

The council tabled the decision in order to refine the large job description.

Year-end reports

Several committees and departments gave their year-end reports, which resulted in the approval of a number of motions.

Solberg said the Parks and Recreation Committee focused on the ice-skating rink and Trollskogen Park in 2017.

As a result, the skating rink is bigger than previous years and new equipment is planned for Trollskogen Park. Solberg added the new equipment should be ready to go by Syttende Mai 2018.

Three groups also helped or improved parks around Spring Grove, including a new Feed-A-Bee project in Roverud Park, a group related to Athletic Boosters to help with the remodeled baseball field and the Spring Grove Area Veterans Memorial newly built and dedicated in Viking Memorial Park.

Solberg added the fundraisers for new equipment went well and a total of $40,600 was raised. The committee is about $9,500 away from its goal of $50,000 for the equipment, based on last year’s estimates. Those estimates will be updated after a meeting with City Engineer Tim Hruska, Solberg said.

In connection with the parks and rec discussion, Solberg asked if some Corner Store profits might be used for the park, as the city has not yet contributed money to it.

The council agreed to gift $8,000 to purchase swings for the park. There will be a decorative brick in front of the swings commemorating the city’s contribution.

Fire Chief Trent Turner said the department expects to receive a new jaws of life within the next three weeks. The department had 17 fire calls in 2017.

He also announced the department is working on a grant to update turnout gear, get new air packs and update equipment in the fire hall. The department would need to match five percent of the grant.

They hired a grant writer from central Minnesota, who is also a fire chief, to help them write the grant.

Approvals

The council approved a temporary liquor license to Ye Olde Opera House for two weekends. The license will allow YOOH to sell wine at the showings of “A Greater Tuna Christmas.”

Another liquor license was approved to sell alcohol at the Syttende Mai beanbag tournament. Proceeds from that event will go to The Corner Store.

The council approved a policy change for commercial rebates. Now the amount of energy saved must be shown on the rebate form. An electrician would be able to figure that number for the rebate.

“We want to make sure people are actually saving energy and not just getting the money,” Schroeder said.

The policy would only be valid for fixtures, such as LED bulbs and would not include reimbursement for labor. Though businesses and residents would receive less money for the rebates, the policy change would also save more money in the electric fund for others to receive rebates.

“More funds would be available for others who are also doing energy updates for energy saving fixtures,” Konkel said.

Other news

Solberg brought the possibility of putting up a new sign at the brush dump on Nine Oaks Drive. There are designated areas at the dump for brush, leaves, compost and other materials, but new residents may not know where it goes.

The brush dump is only open to residents of Spring Grove. It remains open every day all day and has not been overly abused.

The council agreed to let Public Works Director Paul Morken sketch the map of the dump and table the decision until they get an estimate for the sign.

The council also agreed to let Solberg apply again for the Statewide Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) grant in order to improve pedestrian safety on Maple Drive from Viking Memorial Park to the swimming pool from June to August.

The city has previously received a SHIP grant. The first grant was used for design and engineering work on the sidewalk ramp on 1st St. NW. That work was done when the water main was replaced.

To improve the walkability on Maple Drive, Solberg suggested getting 55-gallon drums and fill them with sand to be placed on one side of the road, making it parking on one side only.

Bicyclists and pedestrians can stay within the bounds of the drums, having a safer place to be on the road.

Driveways would still be accessible. The drums would also be a community art project to prevent vandalism. Residents on the street will be notified if the project is put into motion.

If there’s negative feedback on the project and the city feels as though they should not move forward with the project, the city can refuse the grant.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Spring Grove City Council will be held Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. in the Spring Grove Communications building.