WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     Westbrook —  Mayor Dennis Phelps introduced the proposed budget for 2018. He noted there is not a lot of change in the new budget.  He  noted they will be getting a 13 percent increase in health insurance,  and salaries will be going up. On the plus side, the city was informed that their Local Government Aid will increase a small amount. Phelps says the pool expenses will likely be down next year. The council approved the preliminary budget with an 8.2 percent increase. Phelps commented that the budget tends to go up and down, noting a few years ago it had gone down to zero increase. But then after that the budget began to rise, and now hopefully it is going back down. “I guess when we had that zero budget we were just fooling ourselves,” he said.

    At a previous meeting  the council had discussed raising council salaries but they had to check with the League of Minnesota Cities to see when that could be done. Council salaries have not been increased in quite a number of years. According to the League of Minnesota Cities  the earliest they could increase them would be in December of 2018. The council did not take action on that item.

    Dan Joel speaking on behalf of the Fire Department and the Municipal Utilities said the Fire Department is in need of replacing the rescue truck. It dates back to the early eighties and was used when they got it. The department has about $15,000 set aside for it.

    According to Joel, the department needs about $100,000 to get a decent rig. An ideal rig would have a water source as well as rescue equipment. That way if they are responding to an accident they would be able to put out vehicle fires before a pumper would arrive.

    The department has asked the Municipal Utilities to loan them $75,000. They also requested to get $10,000 from the city council. The department would use money from charitable gambling to pay the loan back. If the money from  gambling were to fall short the department would dip into the money they receive from the township money they receive for fire coverage. The city council passed a motion to give the additional $10,000 to the Fire Department.

    Police Chief Alan Wahl told the council he has given a part time officer an application,  but was unaware whether or not he has turned it in yet. He was waiting to hear from city clerk Katie Steen to see if he had returned the application. I guess it is a wait and see situation.

    Mayor Phelps saw some kids playing around the Veterans Memorial and were climbing on the statues. He told them to please not climb on the statues.

    Wahl said it is good to have the kids back in school to keep them occupied.

    Wahl has been doing some cosmetic remodeling changes to the police department on the inside of the  building.

    Street supervisor Carl Conrad told the council he has  been busy winterizing the pool and  putting in the new pool heater.

    The city received a letter from Engineer Scott Leddy that the city can make the final payment  of $38,771 for the sewer project contractor. The council approved the payment to the contractor. The project ended up coming in $16,109 under the original project cost of $203,000 making the final price of $187,771.

    Dan Joel asked the council for permission to  change their by laws that would limit the amount of money for training at a set amount. The council approved the change.

    Council member Manda Jorgenson, representing  WAV, asked if there would be any problem with the organization putting up special lighting at the Veterans Memorial. She said the Memorial Committee gave their approval for doing  it. Mayor Phelps said he saw no reason they couldn’t do it.

    The following building permits were approved by the council.

    Jeff Lamb to construct a fence on his property on Columbus Avenue.

    Randall  Maha to put a storage shed on his property on Seventh Street.

    Vera Rachuy to alter her front steps at her home on Adams Avenue.

August Police Report

    Three air ambulance assists; one arrest; theft charges two juveniles; one  death; one domestic call.