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Council will continue budget talks Monday

As the Farmington City Council continues to hammer out details for the 2011 city budget, they plan to tackle two big topics Monday night.

At a 6 p.m. budget workshop, council members will continue discussions regarding franchise fees and potential staff cuts.

The issue of franchise fees came up during the Sept. 20 city council meeting, when city administrator Peter Herlofsky submitted a proposal to add fees to the gas and electric company bills that residents pay monthly. The fee would be $1.60 per month, per utility. For gas and electric, that would result in a total additional payment of $38.40.

Herlofsky hammered out a deal with all of the gas and electric companies that serve the city. The utility companies would forward most of the monthly franchise fees to the city.

In turn, the city of Farmington would put that money -- up to $400,000 annually -- toward the community's annual seal coating projects.

There were a few details to iron out though. First, the terms for commercial and industrial businesses were somewhat confusing. In some cases, the fees could double for businesses.

But there are other concerns, as well. Though the terminology calls it a "franchise fee," every one of the council members acknowledge the fee would be a form of a tax.

Also up for discussion Monday are the administrative services director position held by Lisa Shadick and the economic development specialist position held by Tina Hansmeier.

At a budget workshop held Sept. 27, some council members identified those two positions as ones they thought could be cut in order to save the city about $200,000.

However, when the topic came up during the Oct. 4 regular meeting, council members chose to table the discussion until the Oct. 11 workshop.

In addition, council members have asked that city staff directors attend the workshop so they can answer any questions about potential line item cuts from the budget.

Budget workshops are open to the public and audio recorded, however, they are not broadcast on the city's cable station or on the city's web site.

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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