Increased utility rate fees

Hastings City Council held a public hearing and voted to adopt an amendment to City Code, increasing utility rates.

In the amendment, there is a 5 percent increase in water fees and 3 percent increases in both sewer and stormwater fees.

"We hear you, but we still have to pay for the water system and the drinking water," Ward 1 Councilwoman Tina Folch said. "One way or another we have to pay for it and we can't give refunds or discounts."

Folch's comments came after a plea that the council table the decision to increase water fees until a solution is found with the water system.

The increased utility rate fees have been in the works since last year, when recommendations from a utility rate study were passed. It is expected that the increase in fees will generate neutral or positive revenue for the fund.

"We need to get these funds stabilized so that we can have clean drinking water," Councilmember Mark Vaughan said.

Mayor Paul Hicks said the city worked hard to implement as little chlorine into the water as possible when the citywide chlorination began. He also added that water fees help with other aspects of keeping drinking water safe, such as the removal of nitrates.

Landscaping for Great River Landing

Council approved the landscaping and photometrics for the Great River Landing development.

In the plans, there will be a number of plantings added to transform the riverfront behind the structure into an open park space.

The park will be a privately maintained space, but its use will be open to the public.

With the project, 14 trees along the trail will be removed. The original purpose of the trees was to separate the trail from the Hudson Manufacturing building. The landscaping plans for the property will make up for the greenery that will be removed.

2019 budget

Councilmembers unanimously passed the 2019 final budget, the final tax levy, the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority special levy and the 2019-2023 capital improvement and capital equipment plans.

The final property tax levy totals over $14 million. This levy helps fund government services such as parks and recreation, police and fire.

The proposed property tax for the 2019 budget will decrease roughly 1.4 percent from last year.

Big projects to look for in 2019 are renovations at the Aquatic Center, improvements at the Hastings Civic Arena and parks, as well as the 2019 Neighborhood Infrastructure projects.

The full budget, CIPs and CAPs can be viewed at hastingsmn.gov.

Interim city administrator appointed

Council appointed Administrative Services Director Julie Flaten as interim city administrator effective Jan. 5.

Flaten was unanimously recommended for the position by the administrative committee of the council, which is made up of councilmembers Lori Braucks, Trevor Lund and Folch.

"Like I said before, we are not going to drag our feet, but we aren't going to rush into anything," Lund said. "We all felt that she will be able to help us not skip a beat. It was the best short-term solution to get us to a long-term one."