Local Gov't Accountability Roundup: 10/4/11

TRUMAN:  U.S. Sues City Over Cutting Returning Vet’s Job in Police Department The Justice Department has sued the city of Truman for allegedly violating federal reemployment rights for a returning veteran.  Upon his return from deployment in Kuwait in 2010, Army Reservist Michael Schutz was given a part-time, rather than his former full-time position, due to budget concerns.  Federal rules require veterans to be reinstated in their pre-deployment positions or a similar job and pay. The city says it was discussing budget constraints before Schutz was deployed.

MINNESOTA FALLS:  State Gives Xcel OK to Remove Old Hydro Power Dam Despite Local Concerns      DNR officials ruled out the need for an expensive environmental impact statement over the demolition of a former hydroelectric dam on the Minnesota River above Granite Falls.  The decision clears the way for Xcel Energy to remove the former hydroelectric dam at a cost of about $2.5 million. The city of Granite Falls and an ethanol plant that depend on the water in the dam’s reservoir say they will pay a hefty price for changes once it's removal. 

APPLE VALLEY:  School District Lowers Property Tax Levy  Most homeowners in the Apple Valley-Eagan-Rosemont 196 School District will see a lower property tax levy next year. The school board voted unanimously to reduce the rate by more than three percent from the 2011 levy.  But taxpayers should not necessarily become accustomed to it.  The recommendation was made possible by a special state aid allotment that cannot be counted on in future years.

BRAINERD:  Council Debates Cost and Dangers of Tying Ribbons on Water Tower The city sometimes allows groups to place huge ribbons high overhead on Brainerd’s iconic water tower.  It can be dangerous for city crews, however, and takes three hours both to erect and remove the ribbons.  The city council will continue to examine whether to consider ribbon requests on a case by case policy or to forgo the practice altogether.

INTERNATIONAL FALLS:  More Wetland Credits Needed for Development of Foreign Trade Zone   Koochiching County will need to spend about $18,000 instead of $4,000 as expected for wetland credits in order to move ahead with the proposed foreign trade zone development.  It appears that 1.5 acres of wetlands may be affected by the project, rather than the half acre originally anticipated.  The issue has raised questions about county policy on how to distribute wetland credits.

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