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City of Mitchell proposes $31.5M budget

The city of Mitchell proposed a $31.5 million balanced budget on Monday. But the balanced budget for 2017 comes with a cost. During Monday night's budget work session at City Hall, City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein said most city departments c...

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The city of Mitchell proposed a $31.5 million balanced budget on Monday.

But the balanced budget for 2017 comes with a cost.

During Monday night's budget work session at City Hall, City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein said most city departments cut their budget requests by 13 to 15 percent to keep the expenses included in the budget equal to city revenue. Ellwein also said the city cut approximately $83,000 in allocations to local organizations in an effort to balance the budget.

The city received $377,421 in budget allocation requests for 2017, awarding $230,171 in funding. Groups facing city funding cuts in 2017 include LifeQuest, Mitchell Main Street & Beyond, Dakota Counseling and the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village.

But Council President Jeff Smith said some local groups needed to see a drop in funding if the city planned to approve a balanced budget.

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"We asked the department heads to significantly cut their budgets, and they did that," Smith said. "So we said if the city's doing it, it's time for everybody else to share a little bit of the pain."

Specific funding cuts would include a $7,000 reduction to the Indian Village, $5,000 to Mitchell Main Street, $1,000 to the Court Appointed Special Services Advocates For Children and a $37,000 drop in funding to Dakota Counseling.

If not for those cuts and others, Ellwein said the city would be forced to transfer approximately $2.1 million in reserve cash to the 2017 budget. Ellwein said saving the additional reserve funds would be beneficial for the City Council in future budgets.

"The fact that you're not applying cash from your reserves to balance your general fund will put in the city in a much, much better financial position in two and three years from now when you have some significant debt load come off," Ellwein said.

The city also planned for a reduction in entertainment tax collections, leading to a funding decrease in support for three local organizations. Currently, the city allocates 35 percent of the entertainment tax collections for the Mitchell Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), 10 percent to the Mitchell Area Development Corp. (MADC) and 5 percent to regional marketing.

With an expected decrease in tax collection, the CVB will see a $24,500 funding drop, MADC will lost out on $7,000 and regional marketing will see a $3,500 cut.

When Councilwoman Bev Robinson asked if the city could cut some of that entertainment tax funding in case of a disaster, Councilman Mel Olson suggested it would not be a workable plan.

"I think whatever dollar amount we put in the budget should be carved into stone and given to Moses, because otherwise I don't know how you would plan your operations if you've got Damocles' sword is hanging over your head every month at whatever the council decides to do," Olson said.

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With the plan in place, Mayor Jerry Toomey thanked the city employees for their time and effort in pushing forward a balanced budget.

"A lot of hard hours went into it, and I've got to commend all the department heads too for looking at the budget and making the cuts that they did," Toomey said.

The first reading and further deliberation of the budget will be held at a September City Council meeting.

Mitchell cross country seeks new home course

Several Mitchell cross country runners and their parents took to Council Chambers Monday night seeking a new home course.

The runners currently race around the Cadwell Sports Complex, which parents argued presents a safety hazard for runners from Mitchell and neighboring towns.

Mitchell's Mary Krause, a cross country runner since seventh grade, led the charge for the local runners hoping to make the Lakeview Golf Course the school's new home course. Krause said Mitchell's current Cadwell course is subpar and told the council that virtually all other schools use their local golf course for cross country meets.

Carla Snedeker, a former Mitchell Kernel runner who volunteers for the team and golfs at Lakeview, emphasized the need for a new course in 2016 with the city serving as host for October's Eastern South Dakota Conference meet.

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"I'm just here because I volunteer my time to help and I just want all those kids to have the same opportunity that I had," Snedeker said.

No action was taken at Monday night's meeting, as the item was not included on the council agenda, but at least one council member supported the cross country team's cause.

"All of the things that we have done to make some of the other school programs possible, I cannot believe that we're even having this discussion," Councilwoman Susan Tjarks said. "I wasn't aware of this, I just always assumed that our cross country team did run on the golf course, so when I became aware of this I was like, 'You're kidding me.' "

Mitchell's Golf and Cemetery Director Kevin Thurman argued a cross country race serves as a "huge liability" for the city. Thurman said runners and golfers couldn't share the course, meaning golfers would have to be cleared before runners could race.

Thurman also said some cross country fans are not familiar with golf course etiquette, occasionally damaging the green by running across them while wearing cowboy boots.

Lakeview Clubhouse Manager Eric Hieb said he attained more than 75 signatures in opposition to the plan from members who want to see the course succeed. While he did not believe the proposal is a good fit for Lakeview Golf Course, the Mitchell High School graduate said he holds no ill will against the cross country team for making the request.

"I support all local athletics, I'm not trying to burn any bridges or anything," Hieb said.

Council considers traffic change at First and Foster

Due to some close calls at the intersection of First Avenue and Foster Street, Councilwoman Bev Robinson relayed a request from a concerned citizen to reconsider the traffic pattern at the infamous intersection.

The Traffic Commission considered a change to the intersection in 2013, but decided to leave the two stop signs on Foster Street and avoid creating a four-way stop.

When the commission last reviewed the intersection, Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg said traffic volume and crash statistics didn't match the criteria needed for a stop light. And Overweg said the traffic volume has since decreased due to Avera Queen of Peace moving some of its services to a new facility south of Interstate 90.

But Ellwein, who said she often uses the intersection, has seen some drivers recklessly use the crossing.

"I see probably almost five misses a week," Ellwein said.

Tjarks then asked Overweg if the city could use anecdotal evidence to add two new stop signs rather than quantitative statistics. Tjarks referenced the intersection of Lawler Street and Third Avenue, where it took two pedestrians being struck by a vehicle before the council took action to create a three-way stop.

"I feel like based on the number of people who have brought this forward and said 'This is an accident waiting to happen,' it would be devastating to all of us sitting on this council today if something like that happened and we said, "Well I'm sorry, but the studies didn't support it,' " said Tjarks.

The item was included in the Traffic Commission agenda as a discussion item, so no action was taken. Councilman Steve Rice asked Overweg to supply the board with the 2013 traffic study. If the study warrants additional discussion, it will be included on the next Traffic Commission agenda.

Consent agenda

The council approved the following items of the consent agenda:

• City council minutes from the Aug. 1 and Aug. 8 meetings, committee minutes from the July 25 Planning Commission and Aug. 1 Public Health & Safety Committee meetings and department reports.

• The appointment of Nikki Frederiksen to the Corn Palace Festival Board.

• Raffle permits for Dakota Wesleyan University with the drawings to be held on Aug. 26, Sept. 3, Sept. 17, Oct. 15, Oct. 22 and Oct. 29 for football games. A separate Sept. 17 drawing would be held for the DWU homecoming.

• Set Sept. 6 as the date for a hearing on the application of OverTime Steakhouse & Sports bar for a special event liquor license located at the OverTime Event Center, 812 N. Rowley St., on Sept. 17.

• An application from the OutKasts Car Club for a special event license for a parade permit and the closure of Main Street from First Avenue to Seventh Avenue and the 1/2 block of all side streets, excluding First, Fifth and Seventh avenues for the OutKasts Cruise In and Car Show on Sept. 24. The street closures will begin at 4 a.m., except for the 600 block of North Main Street and the 100 block of East Sixth Avenue. Those streets will remain closed until the end of the dance.

• Gas and diesel competitive quotes, pay estimates, bills, salary adjustments and new employees hires, payroll and the authorization for payments of recurring and other expenses in advance as approved by the finance officer.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• Called the meeting to order, conducted the Pledge of Allegiance and conducted roll call.

• Approved board reports from the Public Properties Committee and Traffic Commission.

• Held hearings and approved the following malt beverage and liquor licenses: the application to transfer retail on-off sale malt beverage licenses RB-3833 from PRG Mitchell, LLC, doing business as Marco's Pizza, 605 S. Sanborn Blvd., to PRG Mitchell, LLC, doing business as Marco's Pizza, 605 S. Sanborn Blvd., due to a change in configuration of the licenses premises to include the patio; the application of Marco's Pizza to obtain a retail on-off sale wine license; the application of the James River Arches, of Alexandria, for a special event liquor license located at the National Guard Armory on Aug. 20 for a wedding dance; the application of the Palace City Lions Club for a special event malt beverage license, located at the Horseman's Sports Arena on Aug. 17.

• As the board of adjustment, approved the application of Sara Bailey for a conditional use permit to operate a family residential child-care facility in her home at 308 E. Seventh Ave.

• Approved the application of Angela and Bonnie Jones and Boyd and Kay Reimnitz for a conditional use permit to operate a home occupation and retail business and display of artwork in the applicant's home located at 414 W. Seventh Ave.

• Tabled action on Resolution No. 3374 to consider a request from CJM Consulting LLC to annex the property in platted portions of Livesay Lane and Jamaicas Avenue.

• Approved Resolution No. 3375, a resolution approving an addendum to an agreement relating to a land swap transaction of West 19th Avenue and West 20th Avenue between North Ohlman Street and Pheasant Street.

• Held the second reading and adoption of Ordinance No. 2548, creating a standard cable franchise. The ordinance would revise and reorganize Mitchell City Code chapter 8-10 and the articles thereof by establishing a standard franchise agreement for cable systems providing video programming in the city of Mitchell, setting forth conditions accompanying the grant of a franchise, providing for regulation and use of the system and prescribing penalties for the violation of its provisions.

• Held the second reading and adoption of Ordinance No. 2549 to renew the Mitchell Telecom franchise agreement on terms consistent with Mitchell's standard cable franchise.

• Held the second reading and adoption of Ordinance No. 2550 to renew the Midco franchise agreement on terms consistent with Mitchell's standard cable franchise.

• Approved a community services department procurement policy.

• Entered into executive session for the purpose of preparing for contract negotiations or negotiating with employees or employee representatives. No action was taken following the executive session.

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