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Council approves Austin Community Understanding proclamation

The Austin City Council voted 6-0 in favor of endorsing a proclamation for Austin Community Understanding during its regular meeting Monday evening. Councilwoman Joyce Poshusta was absent from the meeting.

The proclamation, which was compiled through the efforts of Apex Austin, the Hormel Foundation, the Austin Welcome Center and input from various community members, was written in response to the state of unrest in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and the division of the most recent campaign season.

The proclamation lists the following five basic principles:

• Support for the right of peaceful assembly and protest within the community;

• Support for the protection of community members, businesses, buildings and institutions from violence, rioting or looting;

• The expectation that interactions between community members and law enforcement be mutually respectful and free from bias;

• The expectation that only trained, licensed local law enforcement agents should be actively engaged in maintaining public safety and protecting property in public spaces; and

• The expectation that local government and law enforcement will actively support and engage in the protection and enforcement of the above.

The council unanimously accepted the 2021 Hormel Foundation grant awards. Earlier this year, the council was presented with grant requests and ranked them for the Hormel Foundation’s consideration.

The grants to be awarded are:

• CHIP Loan Expansion – $75,000

• Jay C. Hormel Nature Center Education Programs – $45,000

• Library Hotspot Data Plans for 2021 – $45,000

• Shirley Theel Park Drainage – $70,375

• Todd Park Bridge – $100,500

• Fire Prevention and Education – $5,000

• Transitional Housing Improvements – $36,450

Pass-thru grants that were approved were $91,759 for quality of life (for Leadership Austin, the Fourth of July Festival and Austin ArtWorks Center) and $23,880 for a new electronic scoreboard at Marcusen Park.

In total, the Hormel Foundation awarded $493,054 in grants.

The council also voted 5-1 in favor of preparation, adoption and publication of an ordinance establishing a fire hydrant maintenance fee. Under the ordinance, all properties will have a $1 fire hydrant fee added to their monthly utility bills. The purpose of the fee is to cover the expense of the installation and maintenance of the fire hydrants throughout the city.

Councilman Jason Baskin cast the dissenting vote.

The council approved a request by City Clerk Ann Kasel to set the polling location for the special County primary election in February and general election in April at the Council Chambers in Austin City Hall. Because the only city residents participating in the election are members of First Precinct, First Ward, Kasel said it was not necessary to rent the Holiday Inn.

The special election is to fill the seat of District 1 County Commissioner Tim Gabrielson, who passed away one week after the November election.

The council also unanimously approved a Waste Water Treatment Plant 2020 Bonding Bill appropriation during the meeting. Under the bill, the city is receiving an appropriation of $7.45 million to put towards design and engineering improvements for the city’s aging waste water treatment plant.