Elko New Market OKs 2011 budget

By Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

The Elko New Market City Council approved its final 2011 budget at its Thursday, Dec. 16, meeting. Its property tax levy will be approximately $1.8 million, a 3.7 percent increase or $63,012 from its 2010 budget.

During the Truth and Taxation meeting that evening City Administrator Tom Terry provided an overview of the process for the city's budget. He noted there had only been minor changes in the final budget from the preliminary one. Among the changes were increases to the capital outlay, water fund and storm water fund and decreases to the general fund expenditures and sewer fund. Terry also said that looking at the levy from 2009 to now it has been generally flat.

There were no comments from the council or the public on the budget.

Public Works Report

Terry went through a report about the city's response to the recent snowstorm. Public Works Director Bob Flaws, who provided the report, was unable to attend the meeting.

Terry said Elko New Market received approximately 21-1/2 inches of snow during the storm on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10 and 11, that is considered Minnesota's fifth largest blizzard. Response for removal of snow and ice during that period was deemed fair. It was noted a factor is the city's limited resources. Elko New Market had city staff and a contractor working to clear streets. High winds, drifting snow and cold temperatures were also a factor. There was also some equipment failures that slowed the process.

Terry said there were some positives. The public has been understanding about the storm and it allowed the city to identify some weaknesses. Among them were equipment and changes in communicating with the public.

Council member Dennis Melgaard said one thing he has seen is that the way snow has been piled has made it difficult to get fire hydrants dug out. Terry responded that the city may have to enact an ordinance to have residents clear snow from nearby hydrants.

Mayor Jason Ponsonby noted the city should be using its resources to establish site lines at intersections, allowing motorists a better view. He also questioned the handling of the piling of snow along cul-de-sacs. Terry said city staff was working to get answers and make improvements on those areas.

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