DELANO, MN – While the official 4th of July parade was canceled, two businessmen, with the support of other individuals, have coordinated an effort to have a small parade, and the Delano City Council provided a stamp of approval Tuesday evening.
The parade will be made up of two phases.
Phase 1 will feature the American Legion color guard, support vehicles, law enforcement and public safety vehicles. It will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the traditional starting point, the intersection of Wright County Road 30 and River Street, and follow the standard route through downtown, ending on Elm Avenue at the Tiger Drive intersection.
“It would be moving to the side of the travel lane or shoulder if available and the sheriff’s office would be providing a public safety escort,” City Administrator Phil Kern said.
Calvin Brandt and Chris Keller submitted an application for a permit for Phase 1, and the council approved it.
Phase 2 will feature more vehicles driving through several areas of town, similar to the Stahlke Bus parade in May. It will travel through Woods Creek, River Street, Elm Avenue, Stahlke Addition, Rebecca Park Estates, Wright County Road 30, River Street, Otto Addition, Parkview Hills (eastern side), Fox Meadow, Parkview Hills (western side), Westridge Hills, and Clover Springs.
It will not include road closures; stopping; walking; interaction with people; political entries; or throwing or handing out candy, pamphlets, or other items.
“We spent a considerable amount of time trying to assess if they need a permit,” Kern said. “We don’t believe they need a permit.”
The council agreed with that assessment and approved the staff recommendation.
Chris Knopik of auditing firm Clifton Larson Allen walked the council through its audit report.
The general fund has a balance equivalent to seven months of expenditures, or 12 months if including transfers from the liquor store and sewer fund, which is higher than the recommendation of six months worth of reserves.
Revenues increased from 2018 to 2019, with $2.5 million in land sales at the West Metro Business Park playing the largest role in that increase.
Public safety and streets made up the largest increases in expenditures.
Debt service is expected to remain flat through 2022 and decrease in both 2023 and 2024.
Liquor sales reached nearly $3 million in 2019, an increase of about $200,000, with a gross profit percentage of 28 percent, compared to the seven-county metro average of 26.5 percent.
In 2019, sewer access and trunk fee charges increased by about $300,000.
In addition to the financial report, the council also learned about two legal compliance issues. There was one case where a vendor was not paid within 35 days and one case when deposits were not covered by enough collateral.
Knopik said the first issue “relates back to very early in 2019, when the city first converted its general ledger and financial systems.”
He added that the second issue was related to a large deposit.
“If the bank isn’t actively monitoring it, it can cause a lack of collateral,” Knopik said. “We didn’t see any other issues. We happened to catch one month, in December, where collateral wasn’t sufficient.”
The audit showed two common material weaknesses in internal controls: the financial reporting process and lack of segregation of duties. Both are due to the small number of employees who handle financial matters for the city.
Fire department pensions increase
After reviewing the Delano Fire Department’s financial statements, the council approved a $75 increase in pension benefits, up to $2,575 per year of service. For example, if a firefighter retires after 20 years, he or she would receive a pension of $51,500.
“They risk their lives and everything else,” Mayor Dale Graunke said. “It’s kind of a no-brainer.”
The last increase was two years ago, as the fire department did not receive financial statements in time for an increase to be approved in 2019.
Finance Director Brian Bloch reported that the fire department’s pension fund is funded at 121 percent, which prompted the request for an increase.
Spirit of Community Trail
In preparation of the 150th anniversary of Delano being incorporated as a city, a number of groups are working to establish a Spirit of Community Trail which would entail a number of medallions in the sidewalk and plaques along existing trails. The plaques would feature QR codes that would lead to websites with more information about the points of interest.
In order to start the project, the council approved $9,000 for Phase 1 of the project with council members Betsy Moran, Holly Schrupp and Jon Sutherland in favor; Graunke abstained; and Councilman Jason Franzen absent. Graunke said he abstained due to his involvement with the downtown retail group, which is participating in the project.
Phase 1 is focused on the downtown area.
Phase 2 would include areas west of downtown, including Central Park, while phases 3 and 4 would identify other arts and cultural landmarks.
For the next three years, the organizations involved hope to fundraise 20 percent of the funds needed, with the city providing 80 percent.
Organizer Debbie DeBeer said there have been talks about creating such a trail for about 20 years.
The goal is to have 50 plaques highlighting 150 points of history by the 150th anniversary, which will be in 2026.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved a final payment of about $121,000 for the West Metro Business Park storm sewer project. Wenck was responsible for the bulk of the cost, about $308,000, because the storm sewer that was installed in 2013 was insufficient. The city’s portion was due to expanding the storm sewer beyond what was initially planned.
• went into closed session to consider negotiations for purchase of a property west of the West Metro Business Park due to interest from a business. No action was taken.
• extended the community health emergency through July 31. The council intends to continue addressing the issue on a monthly basis.
• tabled a request for a $500 contribution to a program that would allow individuals who shop downtown to be entered into a drawing for $100 each week.