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home : government : cities/towns April 30, 2016

4/15/2014 1:01:00 PM
Dodge Center City Council Riverside Cemetery finances to be reviewed

By Larry Dobson

Riverside Cemetery Association board member Jerry Head discussed cemetery finances at Monday's regular Dodge Center City Council meeting and asked the council to begin thinking about how to keep up the cemetery as funeral practices change. Head did not ask for any council action but said he and the board want the city and area residents to be aware of potential financial problems in the not too distant future.

In other business, the council approved:

• a conditional use permit for construction of two additional storage buildings at 202 South Street SW;

• a 10' x 10' sign listing the churches of Dodge Center on Praise Fellowship Church property at 602 Central Avenue South;

• Resolution 2014-013 approving plans and specifications for the Main Street Project and ordering advertising for bids;

• drafting by staff of an ordinance to prohibit urban chickens and other livestock;

• hiring Rachel (Tate) Jensen as aquatic center manager for 2014 and authorizing staff to hire pool staff;

• the annual renewal of the city administrator's contract with a 2.5% increase in compensation;

• a city Criminal History Background Checks Policy for Employment and License Applicants;

• a $7,000 Revolving Loan Fund loan request for a new business on Main Street;

• Resolution 2014-014 approving issuance of $1.6 million general obligation refunding bonds to save $90,000 interest on existing bonds, subject to review by city administrator and mayor and ratification by the council.

City Administrator Lee Mattson also advised the council the city's TAP Grant application and its Picture It Painted Grant have both been approved. The TAP grant is for a joint project with the school to provide safe walkways to Triton School. The Picture It Painted grant is for sealant for the Cobra Country Playworks at North Park.

Mattson also advised the council the city has received final notice of the city's entry into the National Flood Insurance Program.

Cemetery financial situation

Jerry Head said the cemetery was founded in 1860 and was self-supporting for more than 100 years. However, several years ago expenses began exceeding income, and the cemetery has been losing $5, 000 to $10,000 annually.

Head said income is from lot sales, burials and donations. Expenses include lawn care, snow removal, storm cleanup and monument maintenance.

He said today about 50% of funerals today are cremations from which there is little income.

The cemetery association has some cash and investments which have been covering losses for several years and are expected to last another five to seven years. He said the association is not seeking anything from the city at this time and may never need to do so; however, the board wanted to apprise the council of the association's financial situation so it won't be a surprise if help is needed at some time.

Head told the council some area cemeteries have benefactors who cover expenses but Riverside has no such benefactor at present. Examples of those with benefactors include Berne and Wasioja cemeteries. He said the City of Kasson took over the cemetery there.

Mayor Bill Ketchum thanked Head for bringing the cemetery situation to the attention of the council and asked for more detailed information to be presented to the council. He suggested if people are made aware of the situation they may offer support through donations or by remembering the cemetery association in their wills.

Alan Hansel, Claremont, purchased the storage facility on South Street from George McNeilus about three years ago. He plans to build two additional buildings on the property, one a 36' x 60' pole building with crushed rock floor and the other a 139' x 30' prefabricated steel building on a floating concrete slab. The city is requiring the driving area at the facility to be paved with either asphalt or concrete and agreed to Hansel placing funds for paving to placed in escrow to guarantee paving is done.

Council members conducted an annual performance review of City Administrator Lee Mattson at its April 11 retreat and concluded that he has done an excellent job of all tasks he has been assigned by the city. Mayor Ketchum said Mattson is largely responsible for how effectively and cooperatively the city functions.

Heather Levasseur-Miller plans to open an art studio-scrapbooking business in Nadine Langworthy's building on Dodge Center's Main Street. She asked the city to lend $7,000 at 3.25% interest from the city's revolving loan fund.

Mattson and Ketchum are to negotiate sale of bonds to raise $1.6 million so older bonds at higher rates can be paid off with savings of $90,000. If they can do so, the resolution authorizes them to approve sale of the bonds. The deal will then be submitted to the council for approval at its next meeting.

Claremont Service

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