Independence approves LMCC budget

IndependenceCityHallThe Independence City Council, Tuesday, Oct. 8, approved the 2014 budget for the Lake Minnetonka Communications Commission, along with amendments to a joint powers agreement with the 12 to 16 other member cities.

At the meeting, the council also took up other business. Here are some meeting highlights.

LMCC

City Councilor Norm Wenck, who is Independence’s representative on the Lake Minnetonka Communications Commission, said there is a strong possibility that the commission will lose Medina, Orono, Minnestrista and Victoria as members. This loss will mean that the LMCC will be a “diminished organization.” All four cities have notified the LMCC that they intend to leave the organization at the end of the year, but one or more of these cities still could decide to remain as members. Also, Orono city officials are discussing the possibility of contracting with the LMCC for some services.

The LMCC took into account the possible departure of member cities when it drafted its budget, Wenck said. The 2014 basic LMCC budget calls for $400,000 in expenditures.

A Sept. 27 memo from the LMCC included budget figures projected for 2013 and proposed for 2014. In 2013, when the commission has had a full roster of 17 member cities, costs for access studio operations and professional services are projected to be $421,636. The 2014 budget shows proposed costs for studio operations and professional services of $346,048. Franchise administration costs are projected to be $165,370 for 2013 and proposed to be $48,952 for 2014.

The LMCC memo described the source of the commission’s funds: “This budget is not funded with tax dollars, but rather a cable company franchise fee paid annually to the LMCC. We are also receiving a PEG (public, educational, governmental) access fee.”

The Independence City Council also approved amendments to the joint powers agreement with other LMCC member cities. One amendment says that member cities must give notice by Oct. 1 of any year about their intent to withdraw by Dec. 31 of the next calendar year. This withdrawal notice may be rescinded prior to the effective date of withdrawal. Under the previous joint powers agreement, member cities could withdraw only when a new franchise agreement is being enacted. This meant that cities had to wait 15 years to withdraw.

The new joint powers agreement can be amended by a two-thirds vote of LMCC members.

LAKE INDEPENDENCE OUTLET

The city of Independence has been waiting for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to approve a permit for removal of vegetation from the Lake Independence outlet channel between Independence Road and Pagenkopf Road. The DNR notified Independence on Oct. 3 that the permit has been approved, said City Councilor Brad Spencer.

Spencer expected the vegetation removal work to begin soon. The permit expires on Oct. 3, 2015. It authorizes removal of a vegetation root mass from the outlet channel for a length of approximately 2,500 feet and a width of 15 to 18 feet and replacement of the outlet weir with a similar structure.

Independence will share the estimated cost of $57,654.60 with the city of Medina, Three Rivers Park District and the Pioneer Sarah Creek Watershed Commission. This cost does not include replacement of the weir. The project is intended to address the problem of high water levels in Lake Independence that are eroding the shoreline.

 

STATE SENATOR VISITS

Republican Dave Osmek, who represents District 33 in the Minnesota State Senate, introduced himself to the City Council and said, “If I’m not helping you do your job, I’m not doing my job.” He asked Independence city officials to call on him with any requests or needs of a regional nature. For example, he is helping his home city of Mound with water quality issues.

Osmek said he is visiting city council meetings in 20 cities in his district. He hoped to make these visits at least once a year.

 

FRANKLIN HILLS PROPOSAL

The City Council tabled until Oct. 22 three requests from Lynda and Jim Franklin pertaining to the proposed Franklin Hills Second Addition, located at 6615 Franklin Hills Road.

The Franklins asked for rezoning of 22.4 acres of their property from Agricultural to Rural Residential. The remaining 18.92 acres of property would continue in the Agricultural zone. The other two requests are for approvals of both the preliminary and final plats.

City Planner Mark Kaltsas said the Franklins have a potential buyer for one lot. They are asking to construct roads for the subdivision in phases, with a four-year time limit to complete construction. Access to the first home would be via an existing private gravel road.

City Councilor Wenck said, “Four years is too long. Why wouldn’t every developer want to do this?”

City Councilor Brad Fisher commented, “This is so piecemeal.” He wondered whether the roads would be consistent with each other, if they were built at separate times, and whether the roads would have seams.

The City Council tabled the Franklin proposal so that the couple can discuss road phasing and park dedication fees with city staff and the council.

Contact Susan Van Cleaf at susan.vancleaf@ecm-inc.com

 

 

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