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Nevis worries about cost of law enforcement; one-quarter of budget

John Plumley, Tom Haag and mayor Paul Schroeder took the oath of office in Nevis Monday, Schroeder welcoming the new council members on board.

In announcing appointments to commissions, Schroeder urged council members to look for changes and improvements, advocating open communication.

Plumley, serving as streets, sewer and water commissioner, will investigate the possibility of increasing rates to assure the city's infrastructure can be replaced as needed, Schroeder said.

"Our rates are low compared with other cities," Schroeder said.

While commending deputy sheriff Jeff Stacey for his role in city law enforcement, Schroeder asked sheriff Cory Aukes, who arrived for the meeting, if they could sit down to discuss options.

Schroeder pointed out 24 percent of the city's budget - $77,534 - is earmarked for law enforcement. "It behooves us to know our options," he said of measures to cut costs. "Is this an all or nothing deal?"

"I'm sure we can work this out," Aukes said, suggesting a meeting be set up with police commissioner Haag to discuss the matter.

In other action, the council:

n Learned signage to reduce speed on the Heartland Trail within the city limits "is not doable without legislation."

Nevis Trailblazer and former council member Karl Dierkhising reported he'd conferred with the Department of Natural Resources on the matter after council member Heidi Schmeichel raised concerns last month.

He was told a speed reduction would set a precedent and would create an enforcement issue. At this point, the DNR cannot authorize it, he was told.

Nevis is not the only city facing the dilemma; Bemidji is dealing with a similar situation on an in-town trail.

"Technically, snowmobilers can travel 50 mph through the city," Dierkhising said.

He agreed to continue to pursue the matter.

n Announced additional commission appointments, which include: fire department and liquor store - Cammy Johnson, administration - Schroeder and parks and cemetery - Schmeichel.

n Reported a liquor store net profit of $30,075 in 2010 was transferred to the general fund.

Liquor store manager applicants have been narrowed to five "very good candidates" with interviews to be scheduled soon.

A chili cook-off is slated for today (Saturday) at the muni, beginning at 3 p.m. Entries should arrive by 2:30 p.m.

A hot dish contest will be held Saturday, Feb. 19.

n Urged citizens to make use of the citizen complaint form, which gained formal approval in May.

The form, which is available at the city office, allows citizens to indicate concerns regarding zoning, water and sewer, the council, police, streets, the liquor store, fire department, maintenance, parks, personnel and the cemetery.

Schroeder endorsed this as a means to communicate, as opposed to phone calls or conversation.

Anonymous complaints will not be accepted, but complainants' names will not be made public.

Complainants will be notified of action taken.