The Northfield City Council did not approve the Charter Amendment this week that would have required the Mayor to report an “Operational Audit” every 2 years to the Council. In a 3 to 4 vote, the Council said no to amending the Charter after nearly 2 years of back and forth between the entities. The vote must be approved unanimously to pass. The section this amendment refers to is 3.8 wherein the original language was that the Mayor report any dereliction of duty or neglect on the part of City staff (operations) to Council. In an attempt to clarify WHEN that would happen and what they were looking for, the Charter Commission tried to work with Council on the details. Chair Lance Heisler said the Commission views this as proactive and the cost would vary.
He added, “the proposed amendment fits exactly and specifically into your Strategic Plan, I believe it’s priority number 5, which is operation effectiveness. That’s exactly what this amendment is designed to do”. There’s no provision stating they needed to hire an auditor. Councilors Colby and Ness were in favor saying it’s an improvement from what they had. Mayor Pownell commented, “one of the things that I just wanted to highlight here is that I really, I’ve seen in the past where this has been misinterpreted and has caused a lot of, it’s cause a lot of problems within our community and within our local government and so making some sort of change here that clearly clarifies and makes it clear that there’s a positive and not what people have called I think in the past maybe a witch hunt where you’re looking specifically looking for neglect, dereliction of duty and things like that rather than looking proactively at about how you can be more efficient and effective as a local government”. She said this was a more positive way to address it. With the failing of the vote, the Charter commission will, once again, go back to the drawing board. The City’s Charter was created in the late 1800’s. Most Minnesota cities are statutory cities and are subject only to State Law. Charter cities can have more stringent rules. There’s been ongoing debate for years between the Commission and Elected officials regarding any authority the Charter Commission actually has.
Ice is thickening but it’s not consistent
The ice is getting thicker and the fishing’s good, says Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn. Still, he says wear a float coat or a PFD as they’ve already had a couple of people break through. The ice isn’t consistent everywhere. He does NOT recommend driving snowmobiles, ATV’s or other vehicles on the ice yet. Dunn added that rivers are even more unpredictable.
Sidewalk and stalls to close on Division at 5th for construction
The sidewalk and parking stalls on the east side of Fifth Street adjacent to 501, 503, & 505 Division Street South will be closed starting Monday December 10th due to work related to the remodeling project there. A pedestrian detour will be posted. The map is on the link below. Construction crews expect the closure to be in effect until December 21st. For additional information contact Sean Simonson at 507-645-3049 Press Release Division Street Sidewalk Closure
20th annual Winter Walk a BLAST
The cold weather didn’t stop people coming out to enjoy Northfield’s 20th annual Winter Walk. Bundled up, crowds gathered to watch the parade, then headed to Bridge Square for the lighting of the Tree and listen to the Northfield Middle School Choir. It was a festive night with lots of hot chocolate and caroling, visiting Santa and carriage rides, warming at fires and shopping the stores. The fireworks were an explosive touch to wrap things up. Hats off to the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce and all their volunteers for a spectacular 20th Winter Walk! There’s video on KYMN’s Facebook page from a listener of the Finale!