Two new police officers administered Oath of Office at council meeting

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

At the regular monthly meeting of the Montevideo City Council last Tuesday, Mayor Erich Winter administered the Oath of Office for two new police officers in Montevideo. The new officers are Blake Nelson and Logan Gile. Police Chief Ken Schule introduced the new officers. According to Schule, Officer Nelson was hired over a year ago part-time and was hired full-time in May of this year. “He’s off and on his own and doing a great job. Blake’s originally from the Minneota area,” Schule said. Logan Gile, originally of the Cottonwood area was hired this Spring after graduating from Alexandria Technical College. “Logan’s got just a month shy of field training and then he’ll be off on his own,” said Schule. 

The council also heard applications from the Montevideo Area Chamber of Commerce for an exemption from lawful gambling license requirements to allow a rescheduled raffle activity on December 4, 2021, as well as an application from Lion’s Club of Montevideo to conduct excluded Bingo at the Montevideo American Legion on December 4, 2021. Both were approved.

Under general business, the council considered a conditional use permit request that was suggested for approval by the Planning Commission for Anthony Quigley, doing business as River Valley Repair and Sales LLC on Canton Avenue. The permit would allow the repair and sales of power sport trailers and small engines in a B1 business district. Quigley will be doing small engine repair, as well as trailer repair and small trailer sales on site. While small engine repair is not a traditional conditional use for the area, the planning commission determined that the overall characteristic of the area matched with the type of business Quigley would do in the area. The council approved the conditional use permit. 

The city also considered an extension of the conditional use permit for the Montevideo Veterans Home. The original conditional use permit was approved in October of 2018 to allow the construction of the home, and the permit originally stated that if construction had not taken place within six months of the date of the original conditional use permit, the permit would be voided. The planning commission reviewed the permit and recommended approval to extend the permit for a period of time that would be deemed appropriate. The recommendation was to make the extension retroactive to the end date of the previous permit and also for up to one year after the permit’s renewal date. The permit was approved. The Montevideo Veteran’s Home will begin construction this fall, so a site plan review was required and that was held last month. The planning commission recommended the site plan review for approval and the council approved. 

A lengthy discussion was held on a request to consider an engineering feasibility study on extending roads, as well as water and sewer utilities to Lincoln Avenue and 21st Street areas. The request was made by Double D Development of Montevideo to conduct the feasibility study in the area where property formerly known as the MTI property, is owned by the company. The property is in the process of being split and rezoned from I1 Industrial to B2 Highway Business district to the north part of the property and the green space as an R1 residential. Mr. Dennis Larsen was available to discuss the plans to develop on the residential property, to create sites for a number of duplexes along Lincoln Avenue. A feasibility study showed that there were a number of property owners that would be impacted by tax assessments that would be applied to their properties to cover costs of the installation of roads, water, and sewer. City Engineer Mike Amborn was also on hand to discuss the feasibility study findings and what those costs would be. After a lengthy discussion, it was decided that more information would be needed on alternative options before any decision could be made due to the potential tax assessment impacts on existing residents and businesses in that area that could be affected. 

The council also discussed the purchase of 11 Motorola handheld radios for the Montevideo Police Department. The current radios are more than 12 years old with aging technology that doesn’t allow for the radios to be upgraded or repaired with limited parts available. They also do not have the ability to use wireless mics and Bluetooth. The new radios would be able to be updated and should last for 10 years. According to City Manager Robert Wolfington, “We have a plan to replace 11 radios in 2023 and have budgeted $17,500 each year since 2020 which has given us $52,500 to cover this purchase. With the addition of COVID money, it was discussed using that, in addition, to get those radios sooner also allows the previously budgeted money to go into the city’s revenues.” The old radios would be used by officers who work on a part-time basis or to replace radios while others were being repaired, or by City Staff or volunteers. Police Chief Ken Schule was in attendance, noting, “These radios are not top of the line by any means but they certainly serve our purpose and are expandable for down the road. I’m just kind of boggled with the price of portable radios. Some of these radios are upwards of $10,000 a pop. I don’t see that we would need anything more than these. This is what other departments I’ve talked to that have them are recommending.” Wolfington noted that this would be an eligible expense for using COVID funds and would allow some of the other projects the council previously discussed using the funds for with regards to security upgrades that were not eligible to be done as well. The council approved the request to replace the radios, using the COVID money for a total of $49,557. 

The City also approved the 2022 budget. It was noted that the levy for 2022 was proposed to increase by $135,000 which is a 5.34% change. Components of the levy are the general fund, the library levy, and the EDA. The only special levy is for debt service. Revenues for the debt service levy pay for the bond issues associated with capital improvements such as street, storm improvements, the fire hall and the city building. The 2022 proposed budget has total revenues $13,216,840, and total expenditures of $13,043,725. The council approved the 2022 proposed budget. The council also considered the selection of a date for a public comment meeting to discuss the 2022 budget and levy, and it was decided that the meeting will be held on December 6, 2021, at 7 p.m. 

Gifts and grants from various organizations and individuals were accepted from the Lions Club of Montevideo for Christmas lights in the amount of $4,500 and the American Legion for their second half of the Veteran’s Home pledge for $3,000. Countryside Public Health also donated a SHIP grant for a hydration station at the pool for $2,999.99, as well as a donation from the State of Minnesota DOT Airport CARES fund donation of $20,000.