Canton City Council considers firemen retirement increase

By : 
Barb Kerns

The Canton City Council considered a request from Jason Magnuson, representing the fire department, for an increase in the annual retirement benefit from $450 per year of service to $500.

Magnuson also requested that a PERA cost analysis of retirement coverage be approved as a second item in his presentation. This would be a change from the current retirement benefit issuance method and is being utilized by many other fire departments in the state.

According to Magnuson, the Canton volunteers are at the lower end of the benefit scale in the State of Minnesota.

Mayor Donivee Johnson also had researched numbers of PERA benefits for departments participating in that plan.

As a part of the discussion on the matter, it was reported that in the past ten years, the city has received an average of $10,000 in State Fire Aid funds, which, if the current benefit level continues, would fund the increase. It was also noted that this funding is not guaranteed and if there is a reduction, any deficit would need to be paid by the city of Canton.

Magnuson stated there would be a time period allowed to repay any shortage of 18 months. City Clerk Lolly Melander also noted that if this happened, there would be sufficient time to possibly adjust the budget to address the shortage.

Magnuson also requested that this increase be approved prior to the PERA cost analysis due to the fact that if the benefit was at the current level, it would affect the PERA determination.

The annual benefit increase to $500 was approved by the council, along with a second approval of the PERA request for cost analysis of retirement coverage as requested by Magnuson.

Mitson Museum

Kathy Haynes reported on the efforts to paint the Mitson Museum on behalf of the Canton Historical Society. Haynes told the council that a grant has been secured for 34 gallons of paint through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s Paint the Town program, to be ordered from the St. Charles Ace Hardware store.

Vernon Zafft will be communicating with Haynes as to the preparation of the building as well as coordinating the job.

Volunteers will be needed for the project.

Other business

Local projects approved also included obtaining wood chips for the public playground and discussion on maintenance of the softball field, as no games are scheduled for the summer.

Approval was given to the removal of the electric meters and that there will be three scheduled applications of weed spray to control the spread of weeds.

Jon Nordsving reported that although water at the sewer plant was high during the recent heavy rainfall, there was no flooding.

A building permit application for Tyler Newman was reviewed. The proposed construction of a 176-square-foot deck on his residence was approved.

A request for a reduction in town hall rent by the Hudson family for a reunion scheduled for August was discussed and subsequently tabled until the July meeting.

Approval was granted for the use of city hall for the Canton Day Off barbecue competition was granted, with the stipulation that only the judges would be in the hall and the time period was limited to the judging period only. Melander noted she would be assisting with that event and would be present to insure that the conditions are observed.

There was discussion on the best usage of the Rockwell Collins $2,500 grant, since the initial plan of improving the area of the current veterans memorial is on hold. It was noted that since Nick Prestby has not returned with an update on the Legion’s plans for the area, the grant should be used in another city area.

Members of the council discussed the improvement of the vacant area to the south of the city hall and it was decided to determine the cost of replacing the current fence and moving it further to the east, to the property line. The cost of adding plants and bushes or small trees as well as possible seating will be determined and the council will be updated by email.

Several city properties continue to be in violation of the junkyard ordinance and are being referred to the city attorney for legal action. Another property, owned by Danny Whalen has been consistently in violation and his case is being handled by the Fillmore County attorney’s office.

Heidi Jones, a candidate for Fillmore County auditor-treasurer, was present to introduce herself to the council. Jones has eleven years of experience working in the office.

City residents are to be reminded that the regular weekly garbage and recycling pickup will be on Tuesday, July 3, due to the Fourth of July holiday.