City Hall building banner - File photo Rhonda Silence
Rhonda Silence

City approves preliminary levy of 5.96 percent

There were two very important matters on the Grand Marais City Council agenda on September 8. One, the filling of a vacant council seat, and two, setting the city’s preliminary 2022 levy. The council completed both those agenda items.

After some discussion of the steps taken to reach the decision to increase the levy, there was a motion by Councilor Anton Moody and a second by Councilor Michael Garry to set the levy at the maximum amount allowed—for now.

Councilors and Mayor Jay DeCoux noted that the council has been meeting with department heads and looking at ways to trim the city budget. In an interview with WTIP, Mayor DeCoux stressed that the city looked at potential revenue conservatively and liberally estimated city expenditures.

City Administrator Mike Roth and Mayor DeCoux both noted that it is very likely that the final levy, which must be locked in in December, will be lower.

The next item of discussion was the need to fill the council seat vacated by Kelly Swearingen. Tracy Benson, a former city council member, was appointed to the vacancy, as WTIP reported on September 9. See the related story here: Grand Marais City Council appoints Tracy Benson to vacant council seat

Benson was previously appointed to the city council in 2016 to fill a vacancy created when Councilor Jan Sivertson was elected to the Cook County Board of Commissioners. She was subsequently elected to the council and served for most of her term, resigning in February 2018 because she was moving. Benson has since moved back to the city.

Benson’s appointment creates another vacancy for the city council, on the Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission. Benson is the citizen representative on that board. Craig Schulte is the council representative and only one councilor can serve on that board. At the next meeting, the council will need to decide who will continue to serve on the PUC. The council will also need to appoint another citizen representative.

The city also still needs someone to fill the vacancy on the Grand Marais Planning Commission, which had been filled by Swearingen.

In addition, at the September 8 meeting, when Councilor Craig Schulte gave his report from the Grand Marais Park Board, he said that board also needs a citizen to serve. Board Member Rita Hinchman has resigned from her seat.

Anyone interested in the Grand Marais Park Board, the Planning Commission, or the Public Utilities Commission may contact City Hall at 218-387-1848 for more information.

In other business, the city heard from its insurance representative from Security State insurance, ben Peters. Peters shared information with the council on changes to the city’s policy and premium. He said working with City Financial Officer Kim Dunsmoor to make some changes in reporting city expenditures, his company was able to reduce the annual premium by approximately $2,000.

The council also held a public meeting on the codification of its ordinances, a process that is intended to make ordinances easier to find, review and update if needed.

The next Grand Marais City Council meeting will be Wednesday, September 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Grand Marais City Hall. Meetings are also live-streamed on the city’s YouTube channel.