City Council Takes On A New Face
I want to work with you guys and ladies any way I can. The balance of power is very critical,” John Schad told Emmetsburg City Council members at his first meeting as mayor. “I am much in favor of openness; getting information out to the public. I would like you to work with me getting people to come to these meetings.“
Mayor Schad and new council representatives Sandy Pelzer and Corey Gramowski took their seats at their first council meeting last Monday, Jan. 14. Schad told the council of his intension of starting a website, airing the city council meeting in its entirety.
Schad also said, “During the time I was running for mayor, I learned of issues where people are unhappy… I found issues that were issues 25 years ago (when Schad served on the City Council) are still issues today. We need to offer an olive branch.“
Later in the meeting, Schad unveiled his proposal to develop policy for public comment in council meetings. He proposes offering the public the privilege of making limited comments during regular council meetings. To speak at a council meeting, two criteria must be met: the subject of comments must be part of the published council agenda; and, if the subject is not on the agenda it must be within the scope and responsibility of the city.
The mayor suggested that to speak on an item which is on the council’s agenda, the person must contact the mayor prior to the meeting and he/she will then be recognized at the beginning of that item of discussion.
If a person wishes to address the council on an item not on the agenda, he/she may do so during a public comment time at the end of the council meeting.
“Anyone addressing the council is urged to be brief, succinct, and to the point,” said Schad. A time limit for speaking will be imposed.
“So, if they want to talk about something on the agenda they need to notify city hall and they can speak,” commented council representative Pam Smith. “And tat the end of the meeting, they can address any topic.“
An explanation was offered by the mayor. Prior to the meeting, anyone who comes to the council can fill out a form with his/her name and topic. He/she can speak for a maximum of five minutes.
“We don’t want to restrict, just organize,” said Schad. “This is the fist time in a number of years that we have allowed this. We have to be flexible.“
Council representative Sandy Pelzer said other boards read a policy statement at the beginning of the meeting after welcoming guests.
“We need to gain their perspective,” Schad said. “We could maybe save a lot of people a lot of trouble if a person is sitting in the audience and they have an answer.“
“If it’s not an agenda item, we cannot take action. We can just listen,” cautioned councilman Brian Campbell, adding, “It’s going to take a strong chair to keep it under control.“
Police Chief Eric Hanson expressed concern about issues of personnel and City Administrator John Bird had concerns about circumventing standard procedures. Councilman Corey Gramowski sees the need to have some rules in place.
Campbell requested the policy be reviewed again in six months.
Emmetsburg City Council acted on recommendations from the Finance, Ordinance and Personnel Committee.
Prior to the council meeting, members of Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce met with the committee. They requested monies from the Hotel/Motel Tax Allocation for the Chamber of Commerce operations of the Welcome Center and KEMB-LP radio station. State statute requires that at least 50-percent of the total dollars generated by a Hotel/Motel Tax be used for “…the acquisition of sites for, or constructing, improving, enlarging, equipping, repairing, operating, or maintaining of recreation, convention, cultural, or entertainment facilities…“
For the current fiscal year, the council had appropriated $13,050 for Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce, which was 14-percent. The committee recommended, and the council approved, increasing that percentage to 20-percent of annual revenue generated by by the Hotel/Motel tax.
The council also approved increasing the amount designated to KEMB-LP. Last year the council designated $3,000. The radio board requested the amount be increased to 10-percent, or no less than $8,000. The council voted to appropriate $8,000 from revenue generated by the Hotel/Motel tax.
The council also approved a cost of living raise of 3.25-percent for non-union city employees. The raise will be effective July 1.
Emmetsburg Police Chief Eric Hanson told the council that the police department will be conducting tobacco compliance checks before Feb. 15 for city tobacco license holders.
Compliance checks are supervised by officer Darrin Adams who enlists the help of an under-age person to purchase tobacco products.
“If the retailer is successful, we congratulate them,” said Hanson. “If they fail to check ID, the clerk receives a citation and the retailer faces a civil penalty administered by the state. This is a state method to help insure compliance.”