Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
State Representative Larry Hosch spoke to Kimball city council members at their Jan. 20 regular meeting. In the most recent round of state cuts, specifically local government aid (LGA) "unallotment", Kimball was spared (because its population is less than 1,000). Hosch explained that more cuts are coming in February, and that Kimball likely won't be spared. The state faces a $4.8 billion deficit, roughly 15 percent of the state budget. Part of the problem, Hosch explained, is that the state anticipated $34 billion in revenue collections, but the reality will be closer to $31 billion. Mayor Tammy Konz expressed some of her frustration. "We worked hard to cut everything back to the bare bones. Then we got the League of Minnesota Cities memo of more cuts. How can we cut back further than bare bones?" Hosch, who was once mayor of St. Joseph, sees one glimmer of hope in the deficit mess. "It will create an environment where we can do things we couldn't before," he said. One thing he'd like to eliminate is state mandates for cities, allowing cities to decide for themselves how to run things. Hosch is hopeful that administrative fines will be allowed state-wide, and that standards can be established this year. Kimball is one of several cities in the state whose police issue local administrative fines instead of state tickets for lesser driving offenses. The result is that more money stays in Kimball, the fines are considerably less to those who get the tickets, and the infractions don't go on the driver's state record. But state officials have fought them since they were introduced. Hosch discussed the recently passed Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment funding. It passed in our district, to Hosch's surprise. He views it as a bad thing because it doesn't allow cities to deal with its budget as a whole. Konz commented, "I'm scared for our little town," to which Hosch replied, "You should be." City advised to sue The city's engineer, Jim Schulz, summarized the situation with concrete curb and sidewalks along Linden Avenue. As part of the Magnus Johnson Street project, new curb and sidewalks were installed along Linden Avenue late fall 2007. The contractor was Kuechle Underground; the work was done by French Lake Curb with Knife River the subcontractor for the concrete. Knife River apparently received a bad batch of aggregate which is in the concrete that was installed. The problem is that the newly installed concrete already has "pop-outs", areas where the rock inside has popped out and left a hole. Knife River denied there was a problem. Schulz conducted testing last fall and determined that 90 percent of the 30 squares tested failed the basic standard of quality, and that the concrete was bad. Mayor Konz has said several times that Knife River attorneys have been rude and dismissive with her on the issue. The city has asked for a 100-percent deduction of the cost of installation (to pay for removal and replacement). The best offer from Knife River has been a 10-percent discount. Schulz advised the city to sue the contractor (Kuechle) who likely will need to sue Knife River. The amount in question is $234,000. Fire & Rescue changes The council accepted the retirement of John Arnold, after 20 years of service, and Ed Maus, after 24 years of service. Both will receive plaques and leather jackets. Chief John Gohmann reported that they have hired two new firefighters: Kevin Sommers and Aaron Dahlinger. The next meeting of the Kimball city council is at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2, at city hall. Public attendance is always welcome. Call the city clerk, Tammy Weege at 398-2725, to be placed on the agenda if you have an issue you'd like to bring to the council.