Representatives of the Freeze your Caboose Chillabration celebration and St. James Chamber of Commerce met with St. James City Council to ask for approval in the use of city property, equipment and manpower – on a volunteer basis.

Representatives of the Freeze your Caboose Chillabration celebration and St. James Chamber of Commerce met with St. James City Council to ask for approval in the use of city property, equipment and manpower – on a volunteer basis.

“We’re supposed to have a blizzard on the twenty-third, so you’re on your own,” joked Mayor Gary Sturm.

The St. James City Council was supportive of the idea and members even began planning to participate in some of the events.

“The goal is to bring people from outside of the community here,” said Chamber Director Tabatha Johnson.

One issue the St. James City Council members foresaw was the difficulty the Chillabration committee might face in getting a liquor license to sell beer in the city park. Liquor is banned from all city parks by a city ordinance.

“We could add that as a one time exemption to the ordinance,” said St. James Police Chief Mark Carvatt.

This can be done by receiving a permit from the police department, and has been done in the past. The Chamber reported they will be seeking a 501(c)(3) from St. James to host the beer tent in the park.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” said City Attorney Steve Sunde.

Council Members agreed to let the Chamber use the park for the Chillabration celebration. They did not act on the liquor license conflict at this time, but will hear the request when more details are known.

St. James City Council approved the minutes of the previous meeting before quickly approving the consent items on the agenda without any discussion.

The St. James Fire Department received bids for new equipment and a new tank over the last few weeks and presented their final offers to city council.

Fire chief Jason Monnens recommended the low bid received from Madelia by Forstner Fire Apparatus. City council members voted unanimously to follow recommendations by the fire department and award Forstner Fire Apparatus' bid.

“That would be nice because it would stay in the county too,” said Monnens. “And, they’ve got a lifetime warranty on the tanks.”

St. James City Council presented a resolution to move the regular time of meetings from 7 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. from January through March. This resolution met a strong opposition.

“Joe public has come to me a few times and asked, why are the meeting times changing at all?” said Council Member Nonnie Hanson.

Council Member Josh Haseman also expressed his displeasure in moving the meeting times to earlier in the day. He said it is difficult to get from work in Mankato to the council meetings on time when the meetings are moved to 5:30 p.m.

“A lot of times in the afternoon the weather is bad because of the winds and the snow,” Josh Haseman.

Meetings have been moved earlier in the past to combat with the darkness of winter.

Council Members amended the resolution to keep meeting times at 7 p.m. throughout the year. That resolution passed, which will move next week’s council meeting and all following meetings to 7 p.m.

A resolution was brought to the St. James City Council meeting which would authorize the city clerk-treasurer to pre-pay discount invoices prior to the council approval and invest surplus funds at the best practical rate.

“This deals with our day-to-day operation. Sometimes we have bills that come in that need to be paid without waiting for a council meeting,” said City Manager Joe McCabe.

St. James City Council agreed to the resolution, which passed unanimously.
Also in the meeting, St. James City Council approved the redemption and prepayment of the general obligation permanent improvement revolving fund bonds which mature on and after Feb. 1, 2014. The prepayment of these bonds will save the city a substantial amount in interest.

St. James City Council members approved unanimously the establishment of Pioneer Bank, First National Bank, St. James Federal Savings and Loan, Minnesota Municipal Money Market Fund and Edward Jones Investment Branch the official city depositories for city business of 2013.

On the agenda was a motion for St. James to participate in the Minnesota Participation Funds (MCPP) program.

“Funding allows for residents of St. James to access low interest loans for first time home buyers,” said EDA Director Molly Westman. “There is no cost to us.”

The city of St. James has participated in this program in the past, which has allocated $100,000 in the past, of which participants collected $121,400 with one committed loan.

“It has broader requirements which means the income can be higher, and it allows more people to be eligible for this program,” said Sturm.

Council Members agreed to participate in the program for 2013.

The St. James Police Department announced they will begin the process of hiring a new officer, which the city council agreed to be in the best interest of the city. There is a spot vacant in the department at this time after the retirement of an officer in late December 2012.

“We have three officers that will be able to retire in the next five years,” said Carvatt.

In order to speed the process up, Carvatt suggested they use the hiring list they put together during their last hiring process in May of 2012.

“I’d like to use the list from our last hiring, there are enough candidates that didn’t make it out of the first round,” Mark Carvatt.

The department is hoping to get things lined up within two months and have someone on board by spring.

The fire department presented a new edition of by laws to St. James City Council for approval. The new by laws are written to make the document gender neutral. City council unanimously accepted the by laws as they were written.

Before the council meeting began, Mayor Gary Sturm and Council Member Josh Haseman took their oath of office. Both Sturm and Haseman have experience in their positions, which they held previously. Don Mackey was also scheduled to take the oath of office at the Jan. 8, meeting, but did not attend. He will take his oath at the next scheduled meeting.