Buy local campaign reaches council

Published 10:24 am Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sandy Forstner came to the Austin City Council Monday evening to ask for help.

Forstner, the executive director of the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, sought the council’s support for the “Buy Mower, Grow Mower” program instituted this summer by the Chamber organization.

According to Forstner, “The program is designed to raise awareness about the benefits of shopping locally.”

Email newsletter signup

Forstner asked the council members to consider a resolution of endorsement and to direct city staff to buy locally whenever possible.

The goal of the program is to shift an estimated 10 percent of the losses in retails sales or $20 million by closing the gap.

Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm said, “We do try to buy locally whenever the city can.”

Forstner said the loss of retail sales translates into the loss of workers, too, as its impact on the economy deepens.

The council members took Forstner’s recommendations under advisement. Stiehm said they would be addressed at a future work session.

Adjust Hurm pay

Austin City Administrator James Hurm received a pay increase from the council members Monday night.

Hurm the highest paid city employee, will receive $101,379 effective Jan. 1, 2009, then see his salary increased to $104,416 effective Jan. 1, 2010 and again Jan. 1, 2011 to $107,548.

The city administrator underwent a review by the Council members prior to the new agreement being fashioned.

According to the new agreement, the car allowance granted Hurm is “not sufficient enough to cover the usage of his personal vehicle.”

The car allowance was adjusted to $400 per month and made retroactive to Jan. 1 this year.

Third Ward Council Member John P. Martin asked for clarification if the pay hikes included a contract extension and he was told they don’t.

There was no discussion of the pay hikes except for Martin’s request for a clarification on the details.

By Minnesota law, the top three salaries are listed on the city’s Web page.

Other action

In other action Monday night, the Austin City Council:

Met new police officer April Kline, who was introduced by Lt. John Mueller. Kline expressed her appreciation to the mayor and council members for the opportunity to serve the city as a police officer. According to Mueller, she has 12 weeks of training to complete before being assigned patrol duty.

Issued licenses to tattoo artist Holly Lewno; massage therapists Jennifer McIntosh and Lauren Kirby; the Friends of the J. C. Hormel Nature Center for the 2008 Thanksgiving Feaste fundraiser; and China Star restaurant at 1906 Eighth St. N.W.

Authorized the mayor and city recorder to enter into an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for ski trail assistance winter.

Set a public hearing for Monday, Oct. 6 for the flood plain management plan. According to the city administrator, the hearing is an annual event required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Held a work session with no action taken to hear an Interstate 90 culvert discussion with a Minnesota Department of Transportation engineer and consulting firm; an anniversary reception for the Cool City designation; and met with the Austin Utilities Board of Commissioners.

A second work session will be held tonight (Tuesday), beginning 5:30 p.m. to discuss the city’s capital improvement plan for 2009 through 2013; the Austin Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department’s mid-year report; a recommendation on the proposed new dog park; and city administrator’s report.

Other meetings

The Austin Port Authority meets in regular session at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in Council Chambers at the municipal building.

The meeting agenda includes consideration of a Cooperative Response Center loan package; Austin Main Street Project request for an Innovision project; and a revised downtown sprinkler program project.

The City of Austin – Mower County meeting will be held at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Austin Housing and Redevelopment Authority headquarters.

The meeting’s agenda includes an update on the scheduled for the Mower County Jail and Justice Center project; Mower County legislative initiatives; and an update on economic development efforts.