Council tries to appease HRA protests

Published 10:53 am Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The city council concluded a work session Monday night by discussing an issue HRA board members Marv Repinski and Marilyn Prenosil addressed during Saturday’s Coffee with the Council.

The group attempted to smooth over hard feelings that spawned when City Administrator/HRA Execu-tive Director Jim Hurm mentioned on April 2 to the council that he would consider City Engineer Jon Erichson to take his place as executive director.

The HRA, which has the authority to fill the position, had not yet been informed of the idea, and protested that they should have heard it first.

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Council Member Roger Boughton said it was his idea and Hurm had only intended to tell the council as a courtesy.

“Roger’s name was not mentioned once,” Prenosil said. Repinski was not present for the discussion.

“We all acknowledged that it is up to the HRA,” Council Member Jeff Austin said.

Appointing Erichson as the director came from a sentiment that the job is too much for Hurm to do in addition to his role with the city.

“The community has been changing drastically over the past few years,” Council Member Roger Boughton said. He noted in a memo that Austin has the fifth largest HRA in Minnesota.

Hurm was present during the discussion, and said he agreed a replacement would be better suited to meet the position’s demands.

“Sometimes you have to recognize if you don’t have enough time to do these things,” he said.


Council moves voting spot

At the earlier council meeting, the City Council approved a resolution to change the Ward 3, Precinct 1 polling location from Woodson Kindergarten Center to the Mower County Senior Center. The move follows the recent city ward’s redistricting.

After, the council voted to install two school signs on Fourth Avenue NW between Fifth and Sixth streets and a stop sign on 18th Street SE at First Avenue.

Per the request of a citizen, the council also decided to place a handicap parking sign at 106 10th St. SW. The sign will benefit a citizen who is unable to use the driveway at her home and would like to reserve the spot for those who provide her transportation. If the citizen moves away, the sign will be removed.

To kick the meeting off, two of three middle school students who won the Human Rights Commission Essay Contest read their essays at the podium and shook hands with the council members. The third was unable to make it and sent a letter in her place.


The council also:

—Approved a request from the VFW to close Third Avenue from the Senior Citizen Center to Second Street, and close Second Street from Third Avenue to Fourth Avenue for its annual car show on May 19.

—Confirmed the declaration of a dangerous dog and the order for its euthanasia in a second hearing by the council, following up its April 2 decision on Austin resident Susan Strack’s pit bull.

—Approved engineering services for the North Main flood mitigation project, which would include design changes to storm sewers and meeting requirements for federal grants.

—Granted the Planning and Zoning Department the power to contract for junk to be removed from 1107 17th Ave. NE.

—Set up a renewal for Austin Utilities lease agreement with Northern Natural Gas, which operates on city property, to be heard at the next meeting.

—Agreed to hear at its next meeting a proposal by Financial Director Tom Dankert to use money from the city’s general fund to pay off some of the remaining debt from the 2004 construction of the Central Garage.

—Reviewed the budget of the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.

—Acknowledged a positive response from citizens about Coffee with the Council.