NYA council agrees to lower rental rates for non-profits

In a brief meeting that lasted only about 20 minutes, the NYA City Council adopted a fee schedule for 2013 and tended to a few other items of business on Monday, Nov. 26.

The main discussion during the meeting centered around the fee schedule. Earlier this year a number of members from local Lions clubs had attended a council meeting and requested a reduction in rental fees for city-owned buildings like the Pavilion. The Lions asked for the reduction on behalf of non-profit groups in order to increase the net proceeds gained through events like pancake breakfasts, which in turn are put back into the community in various forms.

After a public hearing during which no public comment was received, and before the vote on the fee schedule, Mayor Tina Diedrick said that while she appreciated the good done in the community by groups like the Lions, she believed the rental rate should remain at its current level. (Rental fees for the Pavilion are currently $300, or $150 for non-profit groups). She noted that rates were already cut in half for non-profits, and added that the rates are fair in comparison with surrounding communities. Revenue from rentals, she added, was needed to cover operating costs for the buildings.

Councilor Jim Keller added his wholehearted agreement to Diedrick’s position, but councilor Carol Lagergren said she would be comfortable dropping the non-profit rental rate down to $100 so the groups can increase their net proceeds. She said the action would show that the council was responding to the Lions’ concerns, and added that since the Lions use the building often and all the money goes back into the community, she had no issue with dropping the rate.

Councilors JR Hoernemann and Dick Stolz agreed, and Lagergren’s motion to lower the rate to $100 was approved on a 3-2 vote with Diedrick and Keller opposed.

The only other changes to the fee schedule for 2013 were an annual 5 percent increase on utility rates and the addition of a demolition permit under the building construction category. The utility increase means that the annual base water charge for a residential unit is increasing from $13.13 per month to $13.79 and the base residential sewer charge is increasing from $5.68 to $5.96. Similar increases in usage charges also apply, and a water plant charge will increase from $7.09 per month to $7.44.

In other business, the council:
• Held a public hearing and certified a list of delinquent utilities and invoices to the county auditor for collection in 2013. City Administrator Tom Simmons said that 147 notices were sent regarding delinquent accounts (11 percent of the city’s accounts), and that 46 payments were received, leaving 101 payments unmet. Those payments will be collected through 2013 taxes.

• Accepted the resignation of Economic Development Coordinator Christie Rock with thanks for her service (see separate article on Rock in this edition of the Times).

• Approved a contract for police services with the Carver County Sheriff’s Office for 2013 at a price of about $152,000. That rate is about the same as the price for 2012 services.

• Noted a memorandum from Rock explaining that the Economic Development Commission has approved the allocation of $3,000 to the NYA Library for the purpose of purchasing books and other resources for a new entrepreneurship and small business section.

• Heard from city attorney Al Albrecht, who reported that the city will receive an expanded search warrant from the court for the Masonic Lodge next week and will get an asbestos analysis and structural integrity assessment done in order to fully inform the council on the best course of action going forward. The council is considering whether or not to raze the building due to safety concerns or try to maintain it due to its historical value.

• Noted that the boards have been removed from the hockey rink on the north side of town, but the area will still be flooded for skating. The council also expressed a desire to either keep or install lighting at that location.

• Cancelled the council meeting scheduled for Dec. 24.