Scandia council changes code enforcement process

Mary Bailey
Community Editor

Does your neighbor harbor dangerous dogs or keep too many junk cars in his driveway? From now on, if you want city staff to act, you’ll have to submit your complaint in writing and sign your name.

The new code enforcement procedure requires that the person informing the city must fill out a form giving name, address, and signature. The form includes an administrative section for the city to record actions taken, starting with on-site inspection and ending with the court date, if the problem is not resolved. The form can be downloaded from the city’s website,

Raise for
Maintenance Head

When Tim Kieffer was hired as maintenance superintendent last year, his starting salary was $60,500 for a position advertised at $55,000 to $70,000. But his offer letter said the council may consider an increase, based on performance.

Kieffer’s six-month probationary period ended Nov. 14, and on Dec. 20 he was given a satisfactory review. City Administrator Kristina Handt recommended a 5 percent increase retroactive to Kieffer’s six-month anniversary, plus the 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment given all employees effective Jan. 1. At the Jan. 8 work session, the council said he was doing a good job but 7 percent is too much. Instead they approved a 5 percent raise effective Jan. 1, with no retroactive pay increase. The raise was made official as part of the consent agenda at the Jan. 15 meeting. Kieffer’s annual salary is now $63,525.

Park Committee Down-Sized

Instead of seven members, the Park and Recreation Committee will now have five. At the Jan. 8 work session the council voted 3 to 2 for the change, with members Chris Ness and Sally Swanson opposed. Swanson, who served on the committee before being elected to the council and has been council liaison for two years, argued that members play an active role in events and the committee needs at least seven members. The issue will be revisited in a year.

As part of the consent agenda at the Jan. 15 meeting, the council bylaws were changed to reflect the vote. Parks committee members are paid $240 per year.

Dan Lee, who served on the park committee before beginning his new role on the council, will be the council liaison for 2013.

Wetland Review Fee

Planning and zoning applications that involve wetland review will now be charged $100 plus $500 escrow. In the past, when the Washington County Conservation District conducted a wetland review for Wetland Conservation Act applications, the city had no way to recover the cost.

The wetland review fee joins a list of application fees and escrow minimums for subdivisions, site plan reviews, signs, permits, and variance extensions.

The council also approved a contract with the Washington Conservation District to continue providing technical services in administering the Wetland Conservation Act. Surface water and stream monitoring at the Zavoral Mine, if the mine reopens, will be done by District staff. An annual field review of the wetland boundaries, two stormwater management inspections during each haul event, site reviews of the Blandings Turtle population and butternut tree, and inspection of the reclamation are also included.

The cost is estimated at $42,000, to be reimbursed by Tiller Corporation.

Other Actions

The council unanimously voted to keep the Country Messenger as the official newspaper for 2013.

Like last year, the Country Messenger offered a lower cost and the Forest Lake Times a bigger circulation.

The council also voted to appoint Sally Swanson acting mayor, to preside over meetings from which the mayor is absent, and accepted the resignation of Peter Weber from the fire department.

The city administrator was authorized to attend a public finance seminar in February.

Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Majeski reported that a youth snowmobile safety training held in Scandia had 24 students, and 25 were turned away. The driving portion of the course was held on the T-ball field.