By Teri Knight, News Director
The Northfield Council met last night to discuss their 2020 budget and levy. In September they set the preliminary levy at 11.5%. City Administrator Ben Martig introduced a 7.5% levy; however his recommendation after adding staff positions was 9.56% with a budget of just over $10 million. He’s asking for three full-time positions; the council showed the most interest in a police sergeant and a streets and parks operator. Those two positions add up to about $226,000 per year. Employee health insurance was another discussion item, as employees are the largest part of their budget. The city has had the same healthcare plan for twenty years, PEIP, a public employee plan. They recently looked at the open market. While their claims have been few, PEIP came back with a 5.61% increase; however, Martig
said, the good news is that Blue Cross Blue Shield came back with a 5.9% decrease. The city needed approval from the various unions and received memorandums of understanding. That will save a little over $60,000 a year. Councilors broke out into groups to put “priority dots” on their choices and took a survey. That is posted on our website. Other options put forth included 11.5% and 3% levies. They discussed ways to cut back, although that was limited, and also ways to increase revenue including franchise fees and a local sales tax. At that, many of the councilors didn’t want [the levy] linked to an ice arena. Consensus seemed to hover around a 9.56% final levy. Martig’s interview this morning is HERE. Additional information including the council survey and staff presentation: 10-8-19 Budget Survey Results 2 2019_10_08 Council Presentation Final Working Draft
Smith calls Imminent Brewing owners “social glue”
Representative Angie Craig and Senator Tina Smith continued their tour of local businesses, visiting Imminent Brewing. Owners Laura and Derek Meyers discussed their vision for the brewery and taproom and the journey to get there including working with the Small Business Administration and the NEC, Northfield Enterprise Center, a service funded by the Northfield EDA. The SBA offers lower interest, longer term loans as well as classes on Quickbooks and more. One big concern for them is healthcare, for themselves and for employees, which they can’t provide right now. They do provide space for many non-profits to hold events, and buy beer! Smith commented on the atmosphere of Imminent, saying, “We were talking about what makes small communities work, big communities too for that matter, but it is examples like this that creates that sort of social glue that connects people.” Smith has been touring rural Minnesota to learn what is working for them, saying, “Communities like Northfield that work have really strong civic leadership in the public sector and the private sector. They’ve got great schools and they’ve got the willingness to support small businesses like Kahlo’s and high-tech businesses like Aurora, that we saw.” The pair were asking what they can do on the federal level to help smaller businesses. Craig commented, “In order to do that and create these businesses you’ve got to have access to capital, you’ve got to come together as a community to define what you want that vision to be and then from that you’re seeing these incredible startup companies springing out. Aurora could be located anywhere in the Cities and yet it’s located here.” Both of them have been advocating for broadband internet throughout rural areas. Craig brought up how important technology is for farmers after watching Dave Estrem on Sunday’s 60 Minutes. Pictures and more are on kymnradio.net.
Fare For All in Northfield Thursday
Fare For All will be in Northfield tomorrow afternoon at the Church of St. Dominic on Linden St. from 3:30 to 5:30p.m. They offer a number of items including meat, produce and breads at low prices. There are no restrictions as to who can purchase the items although they do have a limit on how much you can buy. Learn more at fareforall.org and sign up for reminders. They are at St. Dominic the second Thursday of each month.