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City council considers a change to official publication

Most of the Farmington City Council's organizational business was routine Tuesday night, but one item generated some discussion and, ultimately, a delayed decision.

City council members debated whether to designate the Farmington Independent or ThisWeek newspaper its official publication.

Cities name official newspapers for the publication of legal notices including public hearing notices, ordinances, requests for bids and annual financial statements. The Independent has been the city of Farmington's official publication for the past 26 years.

Farmington City Council approved the Independent as the city's official newspaper again Tuesday, but they reserved the right to make a change. The full council will discuss the matter again at its Jan. 17 meeting. Council member Julie May was not at Tuesday's meeting.

Last year, confused by the terminology involved in setting prices for legals, council members asked city staff to develop a standard form for both publications so council members could better judge bids.

Bids submitted in December showed the Farmington Independent coming in at $8.74 per column inch, with 10.5 lines per inch and 48 characters per line. ThisWeek's bid was $9.50 per column inch, with 10 lines per inch and 45 characters per line.

For many years the city of Farmington was required to name the Independent its official publication because it was the only newspaper with an office in the city. But a newer stipulation in state law allows an outside publication to become the official newspaper if circulation of the in-community publication falls below 75 percent of the households in that political division. A vote must be unanimous to name an outside publication.

The Independent has a circulation of approximately 1,800 paid subscriptions. ThisWeek cites a free distribution of more than 9,100 in Farmington.

City administrator David McKnight recommended the council keep the Independent as its official publication.

"Last year, you didn't have an apples to apples comparison, so we sent out the form ... which asked for price per inch for printing legals," McKnight said. "Those are the numbers we went off for making our recommendation to you, so you have apples to apples."

McKnight received additional bid information from ThisWeek at around 4 p.m., Monday, after the earlier bids had been made public in the council's agenda packet, which dropped the price per inch of legals emailed to the publication to $9 per inch. ThisWeek general manager Larry Werner presented the same information to council members during the meeting.

"Either way, the $8.74 bid is the lowest and that's what I based my recommendation off of," McKnight said.

Council member Christy Jo Fogarty indicated she may be willing to spend the extra money if it means legals hit more Farmington homes.

"Our goal up here is to find the publication that is going to best reach the vast majority of our residents," she said. "I think I would be interested in bringing this back in two weeks and having a discussion about it. I need to think about the numbers and get a little more information."

In 2010, the city of Farmington spent approximately $1,500 for legal publications in the Farmington Independent.

Other organizational matters approved Tuesday include naming Campbell Knutson and Joel Jamnik city attorney, naming Terry Donnelly acting mayor and making appointments to boards and commissions.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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