City of Menahga wants bigger bang on its investments

The city council urged City Administrator Lacey Erickson to negotiate a better rate from the local bank or move the balances to the 4M Fund.

Menahga City Hall
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

The Menahga City Council wants a better return on their investments.

City Administrator Lacey Erickson presented the latest balances and interest rates for the city’s five money market accounts at Community First Bank and one account at the League of Minnesota Cities’ 4M Fund.

The money market totals, with interest rate in parenthesis, were as follows, as of Jan. 31:

  • $2,896 (1.10%)
  • $31,215 (1.16%)
  • $30,606 (1.16%) 
  • $91,170 (1.26%), designated as an economic development fund (EDA)
  • $293,773 (1.51%), designated as fire department equipment fund.

Meanwhile, there’s $764,161 in the 4M Fund and it’s garnering 4.175% in interest. The 4M Fund is managed by PMA Financial Network of Naperville, Ill.
“My question is why is Community First Bank only paying us 1.1%?” asked council member Durwin Tomperi at the Feb. 27 meeting. “The market has definitely changed.”

“Same question I had, Durwin,” said council member Mike Netland.


If the city moved half of the bank balances to the 4M Fund, Netland pointed out the city would see a 2.66% increase in return, “which equates to $5,990 additional interest to the city. So my question is why are we carrying so damn much money at Community First Bank for nothing?”

Erickson asked if every bank transfer requires council approval, since interest rates fluctuate. She said interim city administrator Betty Thomsen had been unable to take quick action without a nod from the council.

Mayor Liz Olson clarified that Thomsen was trying to move CDs between 30, 60 and 90 days. “I believe the city administrator has the right and is supposed to be doing the investments,” she said.

The council urged Erickson to call the Menahga bank and see if they’ll match the 4M Fund.

Tomperi asked if someone with banking expertise could assist.

“Hello. 47 years,” replied Netland.

Tomperi said he was aware of Netland’s background, but didn’t want to volunteer him.

Netland agreed to work with Erickson. He also expressed interest in rejuvenating the EDA and a revolving loan fund.


Menahga Police Chief Amy Lane takes her oath of honor at the Feb. 27 city council meeting, while police officer Derek Huotari observes. Hired in early February, Lane reported she was busy cleaning and organizing her department. "Happy to be here," she said.
Shannon Geisen/Enterprise

In other business, the council did as follows:

  • Appointed Wadena County Attorney Kyra Ladd as the city’s criminal prosecution attorney, effective April 1. Ladd’s contract includes a monthly retainer of $700 through March 31, 2024.
  • Hired two part-time bartenders – Shawn Hagen and Zayne Janssen – for Northbound Spirits. The starting wage is $12.50 per hour. Manager Heather Shepersky noted that the municipal liquor store has been operating with only three full-time staff since the resignation of the previous manager. As a result, Shepersky said banked PTO hours have been accruing. Erickson agreed, adding that overtime hours have been between 3.5 and 10.5 hours per week.
  • Accepted four EMS bags, valued at $900 each, for the Menahga Fire Department. The Camp Ripley fire chief wrote a grant that provided the donation.
  • Approved the purchase of a pressure washer and 60 pairs of gloves for the fire department, estimated at $11,600 total.
  • Clarified that the city is responsible if the city snow plow damages a mailbox, but not if the weight of snow causes the collapse. Public Works Director Ron Yliniemi said it’s visibly obvious when the plow wing has struck a mailbox versus a rotten post.
  • Authorized Erickson to attend the annual Municipal Clerks and Finance Officers Association of Minnesota conference in St. Cloud from March 21-24.
  • Authorized Deputy Clerk Dustyne Hewitt to attend Sourcewell training about solid land use decisions in Staples on March 3.
  • Approved an auto renewal of the contract with Jake Huebsch of Sourcewell for his professional planning and zoning services.
  • Hired Riley Brown as a firefighter.
  • Heard complaints about the lack of “no parking” signs on the biking/walking path on First St. NW. Council member Dan Warmbold said he was almost hit by a car while walking home. Yliniemi said he would look into purchasing signs.
  • Approved a personnel file review request form. In Minnesota, all employers with 20 or more employees are subject to the state personnel file law. Current employees may review their files once every six months; former employees have access once only during the first year after termination. The council approved the new request form.

The next city council meeting is 6 p.m. on Monday, March 13 at Menahga City Hall.


Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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