New council members take office

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

Mayor W.A. Bink Bender and city council member Jennifer Flicek joined the New Prague City Council Tuesday, Jan. 2, at the city's annual organizational meeting.

The two, along with incumbent Kay Wilcox, took the oath of office at the beginning of Tuesday's meeting. They joined returning council members Duane Jirik and Jim Kratochvil.

During the meeting, the council accepted a grant for an expansion to the New Prague Library and sent the budget for the New Prague Golf Club back to the golf board for revisions.

Library grant approved

The council unanimously approved a resolution accepting a $90,500 grant award from the Minnesota Department of Education. The money will go toward the construction of an addition to the east side of the New Prague Library. The addition will be a combination reading room and hold house? a Czech heritage collection.

New Prague City Administrator Jerry Bohnsack said the grant will be used along with a $100,000 anonymous donation from a local family. The family approached the city about a year ago wanting to make the donation in the name of family member.

In October, 2006, the city sent the grant application to the State Library Services Department, a subdivision of the Minnesota Department of Education. Any additional construction costs will come from the city's discretionary funds, if necessary.

According to an earlier estimate, work on the addition could begin by this summer.

Golf club budget rejected

The council sent the New Prague Golf Course's 2007 budget back to the New Prague Golf Board for revisions after finding out the board was predicting an operating deficit of approximately $57,000 for 2007.

Ken Norland, manager of the golf course, presented the budget for the council's approval. He said there were several factors from 2006 that contributed to the projected deficit, including the extensive remodeling and reconstruction of the golf club building, plus some additional costs that hadn't been predicted.

One factor cited was a 10-percent drop in rounds at the course, which is part of a continuing trend in the industry. Another factor, Nordland said, is that the golf club tried to run a restaurant. He believed they could try a smaller version or do banquets, but shouldn't try a daily restaurant.

Norland said they had done a reduction in staff and payroll. They had also raised fees at the golf course.

According to Norland the remodeled club has been met with great enthusiasm and the numbers of event bookings are increasing. For 2007 there are already seven wedding receptions booked for the golf club, an increase from past years.

Mayor Bender asked if there was any way to balance the budget out.

Norland said if asked to go further they could look at other cuts.

Councilmember Jim Kratochvil asked if they had considered reducing fees.

Norland said the board had gone back and forth on it, but felt there needed to be some increases.

The council asked that the golf board rework the budget to reduce the projected deficit for the coming year.

Appointments

The council appointed its representatives to various positions, boards and commissions. They include Wilcox-council vice president; Jirik-utility commission; Wilcox-park board; Wilcox-planning commission; Kratochvil-joint powers board; Flicek-golf board; Kratochvil and Bender-economic development authority and Kratochvil-Cedar Lake Sanitary District.

Other appointments included Bohnsack-city administrator; Mark Vosejpka-police chief; Dennis Seurer-public works director; Norland-golf course general manager; Bill VanCura-ambulance president; Harry VonBank-ambulance director; Jim Becker-fire chief; city attorney/civil-Kennedy & Graven; city attorney/criminal-O'Neill, Traxler, Zard, Neisen & Morris.

The New Prague Times was named as official newspaper, and the council approved a list of banks and financial investment firms as depositories.

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