Blue Earth gives break to 2 residents

BLUE EARTH – Blue Earth City Council has approved assessments for the Gorman and 12th Street construction project, and given two property owners credit for work done previously.

Mary Kay Grev and Ben Gjere attended a council session Sept. 23 to ask for reimbursement. Gjere had his driveway aprons re-done about a year ago while Grev had tile work done from the house to the street about five years ago. Mayor Rick Scholtes had said the city would check with the contractors that did the work and with the contractors that did the latest construction to see if Gjere and Grev could get credit.

On Monday, Gjere again pleaded his case again to the council.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey said city policy allows for reimbursement of sidewalks, which Gjere had been given credit for, but not for the driveway.

“It certainly doesn’t seem right that the person has to pay for it twice,” said Councilman Dan Brod.

A motion was made to have City Engineer Wes Brown calculate the area of Gjere’s construction and credit him with 30 percent of the total.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord asked if there is a time limit on how far property owners can go back in the past.

City Attorney David Frundt said the credit isn’t required by any law.

“You’re not required to do anything as it relates to this,” he said.

The council approved the motion to credit Gjere, with Gaylord dissenting.

Grev was not present, but Bailey gave an overview of her case.

In the end, the council approved crediting Grev with the full $1,525 of the assessment, since the city reimburses 100 percent on sanitary sewer, instead of the 30 percent for the street construction.

Turning to another matter, the council read changes in a kennel lease with the Faribault County Humane Society. The main point of the revisions is to establish that the Humane Society will leave two holding pens open at all times for the city to house its animals, Scholtes said.

The council did not approve the lease; Scholtes wants to present it to the Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s been a long road and we’re getting somewhere on this,” Scholtes said of the months-long discussions between the city and Humane Society.

“Our goal is to keep this united in the county,” said Stacy Thompson of the Humane Society.

In other business, the council approved a union contract for city employees.

Bailey went over the most recent revisions, including the definition that part-time employees are those who work 29 hours or less, to match Affordable Care Act criteria of a part-time employee.

Another detail states employees who lose a family member can have three consecutive days of bereavement, but they can choose when to take those three days. Under the old wording, the three days began immediately after the death, but sometimes family members have to travel for the funeral, which can be scheduled more than three days after the death.

The new contract is for three years. Bailey said employees will get a 2 percent raise the first year and a 3 percent raise each of the final two years.