St. Boni continues to discuss merger or service consolidation options

By Lorrie Ham

The St. Boni City Council has rescheduled a joint meeting with the Minnetrista City Council to Thursday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. in the St. Boni Council Chambers. Although the council had previously scheduled a joint meeting to discuss possible consolidation for Nov. 19, that date did not work for Minnetrista, so the rescheduled meeting was set at the Nov. 20 council meeting.
“I think we need to broaden the scope at this meeting, not assume merger but look along the entire spectrum of working together, from consolidated services similar to our fire contracts to a merger,” said Mayor Rick Weible. “What are some things that our two cities can potentially work on together to be smarter on cost savings?”
Weible brought up two possible opportunities that recently came up at a meeting of the two cities’ mayors. Both St. Boni and Minnetrista are looking at preparing a MN Design Team application. The MN Design Team assists communities in developing a shared vision for a healthy future with three objectives in mind: an awareness of the role of design in development; preservation of a community’s identity and commitment to community participation.
“Perhaps there is an opportunity to have both cities apply together,” said Weible.
Weible also mentioned that Minnetrista recently heard a proposal from Buxton, a professional service that helps to market your city by identifying what kind of businesses might be attracted to your community based on demographics.
“We’ll see where Minnetrista goes with this,” said Weible. “Some information sharing might be valuable.”
In another matter, the council awarded the five-year city sanitation contract to Randy’s Sanitation, who has provided the service to the city for the past 10 years. Allied Waste, Elite Waste, Randy’s Sanitation and Waste Management submitted quotes for the five-year contract for sanitation and recycling services.
City Clerk Brenda Fisk prepared a report for the council comparing the quotes along with the estimated amount of annual revenue sharing for the city’s recycling tonnage. Elite and Randy’s provided the lowest quotes. While Elite’s total quote was about $1,900 per year less than Randy’s, the recycling revenue sharing potential appeared to be higher with Randy’s, said Fisk. Randy’s agreed to participate in the city’s clean up day at no charge — which will result in the city saving more than $2,100 next year. Randy’s quote also included 10 percent discounts for seniors and military members, free organics service for all and three free dumpsters.
Customers will see single sort recycling come into play next year. While the recycling fee will go up slightly, the garbage fee will go down, resulting in overall lower bills for the city’s residents, according to Fisk.
Based on action taken at the Lake Minnetonka Cable Commission (LMCC) meeting the night before, Mayor Weible asked the council to consider rescinding the city’s letter of withdrawal from the group and entering back into a contract.
Weible reported that the LMCC passed a resolution allowing flexible rate schedules for each of the cities — based on that city’s wants and needs. The LMCC is also working with Mediacom to extend the existing agreement until Feb. 28, 2014 to allow for more time to negotiate a new contract, he added.
“What has fundamentally changed (since we submitted our letter of withdrawal)?” asked Councilmember Joe Arwood.
Weible noted that the LMCC has already approved amendments that allow for changes to the agreement with a two-thirds vote rather than a 100 percent vote and a provision that allows cities to withdraw from the group with 15 months notice.
“And this new hybrid solution [flexible rate schedule] changes the whole negotiation strategy,” Weible said.
Councilmember Arwood said he would like to see the information in writing and have some time for review before making any decisions.
Weible encouraged the council members to watch the broadcast of the LMCC meeting. He offered to put some information together for the next meeting. Risks of not rescinding the city’s letter of withdrawal include cable going black after Feb. 28 and losing eligibility to potentially receive a share of the LMCC reserve funds, said Weible.