City council members, officials and stakeholders tackle ambitious agenda at Saturday planning session

    After opening their 2019 Strategic Planning Session Saturday at the Crookston Inn with team-building and completing the Myers-Briggs personality test, Crookston City Council members (minus Jake Fee and Bobby Baird) and community partners got into heavy discussions on a variety of topics with a handful making their way to the top of the list to be addressed soon.

    The goal of the 8-hour marathon meeting was to gauge how strongly council members felt about each topic and place them in one of four categories: (1) Ways & Means item as soon as possible (ASAP), (2) Ways & Means item after further research in 2019, (3) Research for long-term consideration in 2020, and, (4) Do not commit time to this topic at this point.
    
CODE OF CONDUCT AND ETHICS

    Ward 5 City Council member Dale Stainbrook opened the conversation on the Code of Conduct saying he thinks they should “take their time on it” to make sure everything is done right and if it wasn’t finished until the summer of 2019 that would be “fine with him.” Other council members present agreed saying they’d like everyone to be onboard and to get input from other city boards and committees.

    Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority Executive Director Craig Hoiseth suggested it might be easier on other city boards and committees to decipher the code of conduct once the council finalizes their edits before distribution, plus, Hoiseth said, not to make it “too difficult” for a person to volunteer for the community.

    Hoiseth added, alongside Crookston Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Olson, that setting a deadline will help hold those involved in the editing process more accountable.

SNOW PLOWING PROCEDURES

    City Administrator Shannon Stassen said city crews did an “outstanding job” during this “non-typical” winter and commended those who assisted clearing fire hydrants including firefighters who recently volunteered their time around town.

    Ward 6 Council Member Cindy Gjerswold told the group that during winter events, the plow went down her street approximately seven times for four inches of snow and that she thought that was “inefficient.” She suggested they look into possibly changing equipment and peeking closer at the budget. Council member Stainbrook gave his concerns about the times plows go out and talked about the “slurry mix” of sand, salt and snow that’s left near his home that’s “heavy” to remove.

    Ward 2 Council Member Steve Erickson added it’s been a struggle for some people that work early to get around if city plows wait until 8 a.m. to go out and suggested plows go out “one time” at 6 a.m. to “make it passable.” Ward 3 Council Member Clayton Briggs brought up having a “skeleton crew” that goes in the early morning hours. Stainbrook followed Briggs saying that emergency routes should be first.

    Stassen recommended they visit what the snow plow policy is and invite city workers to participate in the conversation.

OTTER TAIL ENERGY AUDIT OF CITY BUILDINGS

    City Administrator Stassen told Saturday’s group there’s potential to save money by having an energy audit done on city buildings and changing over to LED lighting. He reminded council members that there would be expense upfront, but that they could have the audit and prioritize which buildings would reap the most benefits.

    Council member Erickson said he went from fluorescent to LED in one of his buildings and his electric bill went from $600 to $400 to $200.

    “I’m a believer,” he admitted.

    Council member Briggs added to the conversation saying he changed to LED in the back portion of one of his buildings and the kilowatt usage went from 60 or 70 watts to 17.

    “This is a no-brainer,” Mayor Guy Martin concluded.

    Superintendent Olson said the school district is also interested in learning more.

    Stay tuned for more coverage of the 2019 Strategic Planning Session in the Times this week.