Two Harbors city council votes to hold primaries, increase councilor meeting compensationThe election process in Two Harbors just became a little bit busier. The Two Harbors City Council passed a resolution Monday night mandating a primary just in time for the 2012 elections.
The election process in Two Harbors just became a little bit busier. The Two Harbors City Council passed a resolution Monday night mandating a primary just in time for the 2012 elections.
Councilor Jerry Norberg asked the Council to approve a resolution for Two Harbors to use a primary election for city government in 2012. He said the county, state, and federal levels use it. “I’d like us to use a primary system and be consistent,” he said at the regular city council meeting.
But Councilor Steve Detlefsen pointed out the council has looked at this issue before. “We hammered this one out a couple of years ago,” he said.
“There is a lot of additional work, no doubt about it,” City Administrator Lee Klein said.
Council President Dan Jones said he thought the cost of a primary was probably be about $5,000 when Councilor Mary Rosati brought up cost. Rosati said she didn’t know if it was worth it for the city to have a primary when “a lot of people ran unopposed.” She named herself and Norberg as examples of this.
“We didn’t budget for it,” she said.
But later on during the meeting, Councilor Norberg said if the city adopted a primary system, it would only hold a primary if there were more than two people running for one office. In the end, the council passed a resolution to hold a primary in 2012 and to have City Attorney Steve Overom look into whether the Council could adopt a continuous primary election system. Councilors Norberg, Seth McDonald, Chris Swanson, and Mayor Randy Bolen voted to approve while Councilors Detlefsen, Rosati and Jones did not.
Councilor Norberg also said he was “going to spring” another issue on the council: the number of meetings that councilors are compensated for when they attend them.
Currently, city councilors are compensated for regular meetings they go to as well as for 36 additional meetings on the following committees: Public Works, Finance, Personnel, Utilities, Litigation and Public Affairs as well as for meetings on budget deliberations, labor relations, personnel issues, meetings of the Board of Equalization, and special meetings of the Council. Councilors are paid $60 per additional meeting.
Norberg said he exceeded the amount of meetings he got paid for last year in May. “Next year we’ll be right in the middle of negotiations again,” he said. “And half of this council will be out of meetings in May.”
Norberg said no one was out to get rich by sitting on city council. He said he had talked to a couple of other councilors “who had been willing to listen” to him. “But sometimes you have to take off work to go to meetings,” Norberg said.
Bolen echoed Norberg. “A lot of times we take time off from work. When we take time off work we’re not getting compensated in that regard,” Bolen said. “But there are important meetings that we’ve dictated that we have for the betterment of the community and we have to be there for the community in that aspect.”
Eventually, the council voted to raise the number of meetings for which councilors get paid to 62. The change will take effect next year. Each city councilor could now be paid $3,720 although Norberg pointed out that “not everyone is going to use all of their meetings.”
The council approved the resolution with only McDonald opposing.
Upping the ante
on marina project
Bolen reported to the council that it was time for the city to take the reins on the proposed Two Harbors Marina Safe Harbor Project, a project that has been discussed for the past few decades.
“In the last two months it’s grown increasingly apparent from the DNR that in order for this project to move forward and become a reality, the city of Two Harbors has to be the lead on this project,” he said. “We need to be in the driver’s seat. We need to be the ones moving this forward.”
Bolen said he, along with Norberg and Detlefsen, have talked to Representative David Dill and State Senator and Minority Leader Tom Bakk about the project. “When this idea was floated to them, they were supportive of this venture,” Bolen said.
Bolen said he was “passionate” about this project and he felt that the marina “turns the City of Two Harbors into the Port of Two Harbors.” He said that it was “ridiculous” that Two Harbors “doesn’t have some type of facility for boaters.”
“I feel in my heart that this is the absolute best thing for our community,” he said.
McDonald said he is asked why Two Harbors doesn’t have a marina like Grand Marais and Bayfield. “It’s going to be catalyst for downtown,” he said.
Detlefsen said if the city took the lead on this, then “the feds are going to release the money” and that the “monies are floating around, waiting.” He said the project is not just about the marina. “It’s a waterfront for everyone,” Detlefsen said.
Bolen added that it was time to make a state bonding request for $12 million.
“Myself, Councilor Detlefsen, and Councilor Norberg met with Rep. Dill and Sen. Bakk and they were supportive of carrying this endeavor on their level,” he said. The mayor and a committee plan to lobby for the marina during Capitol Days.
The City Council passed both resolutions unanimously.