by Mike Knaak
Instead of gathering in their usual meeting place in the Government Center, St. Joseph City Council members conducted the April 6 meeting via teleconference.
To comply with social distance and stay-at-home orders, as well as the Minnesota statute on public meetings, the council recorded it’s 12-minute meeting. A draft of the minutes is available on the city’s website.
Mayor Rick Schultz told council members the city’s $4 million request for the Community Center expansion is still on track at the Legislature. The request is included in House and Senate bonding bills. Schultz said legislators are working on two bonding bills…one for infrastructure and one for capital improvement projects, such as the Community Center.
Schultz also said state officials have moved up their budget forecast from November to August or September to get an earlier picture of how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the state’s earlier projection of a $2 billion budget surplus.
The mayor said he participated in a meeting with area nonprofits and the group is tracking possible gaps in social services.
City Engineer Randy Sabart reported road construction projects planned for the summer will continue because they are considered essential services. Workers will practice social distancing.
Sabart said the top coat of paving – the wearing layer – needs to be applied to streets where work was done last summer. Fourth Avenue N. and Fourth Avenue SE. still need to be milled and then the top layer applied. Work should begin in early to mid May and take two to three weeks, he said.
The council then closed the meeting to discuss labor negotiations. The closed meeting was also recorded but not made public.
The electronic meetings will continue as long as the social distancing and stay-at-home orders are in place. State law allows meetings to be conducted by telephone or other electronic means when an in-person meeting is not practical or prudent because of a health pandemic. During the meeting, council members and other speakers clearly identified themselves and all decisions resulted from roll call votes.