The Newport City Council violated the state's open meeting law by failing to "provide a summary of conclusions" of City Administrator Deb Hill's job evaluation from a closed session meeting, a state oversight agency has ruled.
The ruling by the Information Policy Analysis Division (IPAD) — an office of the state Department of Administration — was announced on June 18, more than a month after the agency received an "advisory opinion request" from Pauline Schottmuller, officials said.
Schottmuller, a former council member, argued that after reviewing Hill's performance at a closed session on May 6, the council had failed to adequately disclose a summary at a subsequent meeting, as required under state law.
In a letter to the agency, the city's attorney, Frederic Knaak, said that the council hadn't reached any "conclusions" and therefore shouldn't be expected to produce a summary of the evaluation.
"The Newport City Council did not comply with Minnesota Statutes, section 13D.05, subdivision 3(a), when it failed to provide a summary of conclusions of the city administrator's performance evaluation conducted at a closed meeting on March 6, 2014, at its next open meeting," the agency wrote.
County jail will house more state prisoners
The Washington County Board last week amended an agreement the county made with the Minnesota Department of Corrections, a move that will increase the number of state prisoners housed in the county jail.
Because of prison population increases, the state needs additional secured housing, Sheriff Bill Hutton told the County Board. The change in the agreement raises the contract for housing to $310,000, with the amendment adding $70,000 to the rest of 2014.
County library branch receives federal grant
A state grant will pay for enhancements to the play and learning areas in the Park Grove branch of the Washington County Library. The $4,500 federal Library Services and Technology Act grant was made through the Minnesota Department of Education, State Library Services.
The library applied for the money to buy interactive items that support basic early literacy skills and the "Every Child Ready to Read" initiative to prepare children for reading. Librarians will use the items in the Park Grove branch library's children's area for open play and learning with children and their parents.
Oak Park Heights
Amateur radio operators to show off their skills
Area amateur radio operators (hams) are demonstrating communications skills this weekend at Autumn Hills Park, 5701 Norwich Parkway, Oak Park Heights. Field Day is an annual event held at more than 2,500 locations and involves 35,000 radio operators in the United States and Canada.
Portable field stations will demonstrate the newest digital communications systems, including satellite capabilities and voice communications. The use of Morse code will be featured as well.
The event is sponsored by the Stillwater Amateur Radio Association (SARA) and will be open to the public Sunday, June 29, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Information about becoming a ham will be available, including workshops for newly licensed operators and how they can assist communities with weather spotting and emergency communications.
For more information, see www.radioham.org.
Yellow Ribbon receives special wheelchair
Hugo's Yellow Ribbon Network has received a tracked motorized wheelchair that will enable disabled veterans to enjoy outdoors activities, organizer Chuck Haas said.
A ceremony will be held at the Hugo City Council meeting on July 14 to receive the donation.
A photograph of the chair is available at the manufacturer's website at www.actiontrackchair.ca.
The chair will be used often but especially at the seventh Welcome Home the Troops Pheasant Hunt on Nov. 1, when the Hugo organization welcomes home members of the 109th Airlift Squadron, 114th Transportation Company and the 849th Mobile Augmentation Company.
City's bond rating upgraded by S&P
Lake Elmo recently received a AA-plus bond rating from Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, upgrading its bond rating from AA, largely as a result of a "very strong" economy and "budgetary flexibility," the ratings service announced earlier this month.
"The stable outlook indicates that we do not expect significant changes in the city's very strong budgetary flexibility, liquidity, and economy. We do not anticipate lowering the rating in the two-year outlook period based on management's projections of at least stable operations for fiscal years 2014 and 2015," the New York bond-rating agency said. "An upgrade is unlikely given the city's high direct debt as a percentage of total governmental funds revenue and plans for additional debt, which could weaken the debt profile."
City considers buying land for affordable townhouses
Woodbury is weighing plans to buy 5.8 acres within the footprint of the new Urban Village development near Bailey Road and Radio Drive to build affordable housing.
The city would buy the property from the Schilling family later this year. Otherwise, the "financing mechanism and timing" would take about three or four years, housing and redevelopment coordinator Karl Batalden said at a recent City Council workshop. The city, which would later turn over the title to future developers, plans to use $900,000 of Housing and Redevelopment Authority funds.
The new development would feature about 40 modestly priced townhouses. Officials said the deal is contingent on the sale of Schilling-owned property zoned for single-family homes.
By purchasing the land, Woodbury, which is anticipating a need for more affordable housing, would gain architectural and aesthetic control over its development to ensure that the project fits the city's vision for the Urban Village. Construction on the townhouses could start by fall 2016.
Intersection closure delayed a few weeks
The Greeley Street/Hwy. 36 intersection six-day closure that was previously scheduled for the week of June 23 has been postponed to early July, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said. Motorists should watch for signs posted on Greeley Street, in Stillwater, for updated closure dates. The project website at www.mndot.gov/stcroixcrossing also has information.
Kevin Giles and Libor Jany