Rhonda Silence

City sets preliminary levy, approves purchase of fire gear

The city of Grand Marais held a regular meeting via Zoom on Wednesday, December 9 and one of the first matters of business was a nearly-final discussion of the city’s levy and budget for 2021.

After a presentation by City Administrator Mike Roth detailing the city’s five-year capital improvement plan, projected expenses, and revenues, the council reached a consensus to increase the city levy by 1.82 percent.

The city will finalize the levy at its last meeting in 2020, on Wednesday, December 30.

Joining the meeting to discuss the possible purchase of new gear for the Grand Marais Fire Department was Assistant Fire Chief Aaron Mielke, who shared information on the need for new self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for the department.

Mielke said the fire department applied for and received a FEMA grant to aid in the replacement of the department͛s current inventory of outdated SCBA. The amount requested in the grant application was $87,731.00. Assistant Chief Mielke said the fire department was awarded $68,919.00.

The fire department received quotes from three companies, ranging from $68,342 to $74,412. Mielke said the department recommended purchasing the SCBA units from MSA, which is the higher-priced option. However, Mielke explained that the fire department has worked with MSA in the past and they know the units work well. Service and support have been excellent. Mielke said over time the cost of maintenance of the MSA units would less.

To accept the FEMA grant, a municipality is required to contribute an amount equal to or greater than 5 percent of the funding, so the fire department asked the city to contribute $3,281.86 toward the purchase, with an additional $5, 493 from the fire department’s budget.

The city council accepted the fire department’s recommendation with a unanimous motion, with thanks to the men and women of the fire department for their service to the community.

The council also once again discussed the proposed changes to the city’s zoning ordinance which are hoped to make it easier to construct housing in the city. There was an amendment to clarify some language regarding multi-family dwellings in the city’s mixed-use zone and then a first reading of the amendment was done. After a second reading at a subsequent city council meeting, the changes to lot sizes, lot setbacks, and allowed uses will be official. To see the latest information on the zoning ordinance, visit the city’s housing webpage here.

In other business, the city accepted a purchase offer for the Menard building formerly used by the public works department in the Grand Marais Recreation Park. The building needs to be removed for the upcoming Minnesota Department of Natural Resources boat launch project. The city advertised the building for sale, to be relocated, and received one offer for $7,026 from Sheldon Houglum.

The city council also approved tobacco licenses for 2021 for Buck’s Hardware Hank, Gene’s Foods, Mike’s Holiday, and the Grand Marais Marathon. The motion passed unanimously, with Councilor Craig Schulte abstaining, as he is co-owner of the Marathon station.