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Mayor suggests possible restructuring of Mitchell city government

The Mitchell City Council will take a closer look at the possibility of adding a city administrator following a discussion at Monday night’s council meeting at City Hall.

Mayor Ken Tracy said he decided to bring a discussion of a possible restructuring with the city’s government to the council because of the retirement of longtime Public Works Director Tim McGannon, who recently announced he will retire in December. Whether that means changing from a part-time to a fulltime mayor, adding a city administrator, or leaving the structure unchanged, Tracy said, will be up to the council.

“I just thought it might be healthy to talk about whether we’re on the right track,” he said.

Tracy said he did not intend to renew a discussion about the city adding a city manager, but instead the potential for a city administrator, who would serve directly under the mayor and handle some of the day- to-day operations of the city.

The city council could possibly discuss restructuring the city’s government at its next scheduled meeting on Oct. 21, but no official date to resume talks was set.

According to a document included in the meeting’s agenda booklet, there are 20 cities in South Dakota with city administrators and three with full-time mayors — Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Watertown.

A city administrator would not need to be elected, Tracy said.

Tracy said he would try to arrange for one or two city administrators from around South Dakota to meet with the council at a future meeting.

Councilman Mel Olson said he will most likely be opposed to adding a city administrator, saying he wasn’t sure what problem the city would solve by adding the position.

“To me, a city administrator really gums up the works,” he said. “It makes no sense to me.”

Councilman Jeff Smith said the position could make the day-to-day operations of the city more efficient.

“I think you need to have that individual who oversees the whole operation on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

Rec Center

The future of the city’s Rec Center, which could potentially be renovated or rebuilt brand new, was discussed at Monday night’s meeting.

Last week, Tracy said options for the city’s Rec Center could include a remodel of the current building, or even the construction of a brand new facility.

“Those things are still on our list of things we want to accomplish in the years to come,” he said. “I don’t think it’s too early to start that discussion.”

The city has been in talks with Avera Health, hoping to work with the company on the project, he said.

Tom Clark, CEO of Avera Queen of Peace Hospital, informed the council Monday night that Avera would be willing to split the cost with the city for a consultant, who could identify the various options and give recommendations for such a project.

Clark estimated the consultant would cost approximately $25,000.

Clark said a new or renovated Rec Center could include a wellness center, with physician’s offices and rehab facilities.

Amy Novak, president of Dakota Wesleyan University, said DWU may also be willing to form a partnership with the city to develop a new fitness facility.

“Our door is open for that discussion,” she said.

Councilman Marty Barington said this is a project worthy of the city’s attention.

“I think this is another step to build our community up,” he said.

The 2013 Corn Palace Festival made a profit of nearly $10,000, according to a report presented to the council Monday night by Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling.

The report included the four headline acts — Dwight Yoakam, Terry Fator, Craig Morgan/Gloriana and the Happy Together Tour — who performed at the 2013 Corn Palace Festival, held Aug. 21-25. A total of 7,371 people attended those shows, according to the report.

The income for the four concerts, as well as the carnival and concessions from the festival and two pedal pull events held in September, was $382,825.77, while expenses totaled $373,045.28. That means the events brought in $9,780.49 in profit.

Consent agenda

Council members approved the following items as part of a consent agenda:

  • The meeting agenda, council minutes from the prior meeting and minutes from various committee meetings.
  • Raffle requests from First Circuit CASA with the drawing held Oct. 4-5; Forty+Eight with the drawing to be held Nov. 24; Disabled American Veterans with the drawing to be held Dec. 4; and My Fishing Pond with the drawing to be held Aug. 29.
  • An application from the Palace City Lions Club for a special event liquor license for the Sawyer Brown concert on Nov. 1 at the Corn Palace.
  • Set a Nov. 1 date to receive and consider bids for the three year Hayland Lease at Park, Landfill and WWTP, with a public hearing to be held at the Nov. 7 council meeting.
  • Set an Oct. 21 date for a hearing on an application to transfer a retail on-off sale wine license and package malt beverage license from J Mart, 1527 W. Havens St., to Westside Sinclair, 1527 W. Havens St.
  • Set an Oct. 21 date for a hearing on an application to transfer a retail on-off sale wine license and package malt beverage license from Jack’s Sinclair, 1905 N. Main St., to Northside Sinclair, 1905 N. Main St.
  • An application of Taxicab General Operators License for Granite Springs Lodge.
  • A $7,858 change order for site excavation stabilization and fill on the west end of the Mitchell Activities Center, increasing the contract amount with Palace Builders to $1,027,881.14.
  • A list of pay estimates.
  • Gas and diesel fuel bids.
  • Approved bills, payroll salary adjustments and new employee hires, and authorize the payment of recurring and other expenses in advance as approved by the finance officer.

Other business

In scheduled business, council members:

  • Heard, during a Public Works Committee meeting, a recycling update from Street and Sanitation Superintendent Ron Olson.
  • Reviewed, during a Finance Committee meeting, sales tax collections through Sept. 30, a proposal to pay off debt for a 2003 remodel of the Corn Palace lobby and a supplemental appropriations ordinance.
  • Sat as the board of adjustment and set an Oct. 21 date to consider the application of Nathan and Erin Schlimgen for a front yard variance of 16 feet rather than the required 25 feet for an addition to their attached garage at 1500 Ridge Lane; the application of Martin Haase for a back yard variance of 12 feet rather than the required 16 feet for replacement and construction of an accessory building at 905 S. Minnesota St.; and the application of Sign Pros for a distance/radius variance of 225 feet rather than the required 300 feet for the installation of an off-premise sign in the 1100 block of South Ohlman Street.
  • Approved a raffle request from the Sam Tronnes Memorial Foundation/Pro Hockey Celebrity Hunt with the drawing to be held Nov. 2.
  • Approved a resolution to transfer $23,456.11 of residual equity remaining in a special fund for the soccer complex to the parks and recreation fund.
  • Approved a resolution to vacate a public right-of-way, specifically an alley near the east right-of-way near North Lytle Street.
  • Approved a resolution to appoint Jill Larson to the 13-member Sports Authority Events Committee.
  • Approved a resolution for the redemption of $450,000 in sales tax bonds related to a 2003 remodel of the Corn Palace lobby.
  • Approved a resolution to plat Lot 18 of the Island First Addition, a subdivision of the southwest one-quarter of Section 31, Township 104 North, Range 60 West of the fifth P.M., city of Mitchell.
  • Approved a resolution to plat Lot 5, Block 7 of Westwood First Addition, a subdivision of the southwest one-quarter of Section 16, Township 103 North, Range 60 West of the fifth P.M., city of Mitchell.
  • Approved on first reading an ordinance to supplement the insurance and bonds portion of the general fund with $11,000 from the general fund cash balance for liability claims; the debt service portion of the general fund with $455,600 from the general fund cash balance for the 2003 Corn Palace bond; the RSVP portion of the special revenue fund with $1,200 from grant funds for rent; and the Palace Transit portion of the special revenue fund with $3,025 from grant funds for computer hardware.
  • Did not approve a lottery game of chance for the Mitchell Area Safehouse Foundation, to be held on Feb. 22.
  • Approved the purchase of rubber flooring for the ice arena project for $34,267.68 from Becker Arena Products, Inc., of Savage, Minn.