Lanesboro City Council considers bonuses for crew members to maintain volunteers

By : 
Sara York

Ambulance Director Deane Benson addressed Lanesboro City Council members about a big problem during their meeting on Monday, July 1. The problem: lack of ambulance members.

Benson explained, currently there are only 11 members and only eight who are EMTs. The other three are first responders.

The crew also has one student who is almost ready for the crew and one who is in limbo. Benson said that having 20 people on the crew would be ideal.

Benson proposed to move from “recruit to retain.” He said this could possibly happen with an incentive program. What he proposes doing is offering crew members a $500 bonus. In order to receive this bonus, members must be on call 48 weekend hours and 40 work week hours per month, plus one holiday in the six-month period. If a member can do this, they will receive the $500 bonus along with the pay they get for calls. Members receive a check every six months.

 He also stated the current crew is in favor of this. Lanesboro has about 400 ambulance calls in a year so Benson feels it would be a huge problem if Lanesboro didn’t have an ambulance crew.

 Council member Tom Smith was worried about the budget, but Benson assured the council that it was within the budget to offer this bonus. Benson does not get paid for his services, so the money is there to offer bonuses. If everyone on the crew would qualify for the bonus, the total would be $5,500 out of the budget every six months.

Benson also told the council “If you start this tonight it will pay dividends.”

Benson added that they could try this and readdress it at a later date if needed.

Benson also shared a past experience in Wykoff, when that department had to go to first responders only. He said it put a strain on other community ambulance services and citizens. “We need to act now, or we will be in trouble,” he said.

Autumn Johnson, who abstained from voting due to being a member of the crew, said, “It’s not even about the money. We need people.”

The council agreed to offer the bonus and it will go into effect on July 1. This means the first bonuses received would be in January for those who qualify for them. The council agreed the bonus offering will be reevaluated at a later date.

Auburn Avenue matters

Addressing parking issues on Auburn Avenue, City Administrator Michele Peterson said homeowners were not in favor of limiting parking to one side of the street. So, the council said that would be out of consideration for now.

Smith stated, “Maybe we should have 20 feet of yellow curb with no parking on the corner as you turn from Highway 16. The corner in front of Dave Applen’s house.”

Peterson stated she would talk to law enforcement about this problem to see if they have any suggestions. This will be discussed further at a future meeting.

Another topic on Auburn Avenue was the 1992 vacation of a portion of this road. Tom Manion stated he has never seen one undone and it would take a petition to change things at this point.

Other business

Peterson brought up naming the road going into the ball field. The name will be after a prominent couple in Lanesboro, Orval and Marie Amdahl in order to honor them for all they did for the community. The name of the road will be “Amdahl Avenue.” Peterson also said they would like to do a presentation to the family on the Saturday of Buffalo Bill Days. The council unanimously approved the sign.

A trial with Harmony Enterprises’ SmartPack automatic compactor trash cans in town was proposed with the hopes of eliminating the need for more trash cans. Three council members did not think it was a wise way to spend money, as it would cost $1,782 for the rest of 2019 and for 2020. They would only be out on streets from April through October. The problem with bees and the current garbage cans is why this was brought to the council. With a vote of 3-2 the trial proposal was not approved.

The next City Council meeting will be held on Aug. 5 at 6 p.m.