Local Gov't Accountability Roundup 11/18/11

SLEEPY EYE: Oops—No Government Entity Need Apply for This Solar Grant USDA Rural Development turned down Sleepy Eye public utilities officials in their application for a solar power project. The city request appeared to fail to meet several of the grant’s requirements, including no matching funds or feasibility study. In fact, the city failed to meet the most basic reported requirement for applicants to be agricultural producers and small businesses—not government entities.

BRAINERD: Two School Unions Settle, Six More to Go Brainerd schools reached agreement with custodians and head cooks for a total two percent salary increase over two years. The contract reduces health insurance benefits slightly and increases co-pays, similar to the agreement reached recently with the teachers’ union.

ST. CLOUD: SCS Students Vote Down Fee Increase for Student Center Makeover Maybe it’s always an off year election on college campuses, but just 9 percent of the student body voted in the fall campus elections. The majority who did—55 percent—declined the opportunity to raise their student fees on themselves by $4.20 per credit for the next 20 years for a $15 million makeover of the student union. 

CALEDONIA: License Center Update Approved to Meet State Regs The Houston County license facility will undergo a renovation soon. The reason? Two computer screens used by employees face the public, a violation of state regulations over data privacy. Careful planning reduced the estimated cost  from about $14,000 to $8,000, excluding the cost of taxes and cash drawers.

INTERNATIONAL FALLS: Future of Subsidized Flights Up in the Air International Falls and other rural communities face the potential loss of subsidized passenger air service under reforms being discussed in Congress to reduce the budget deficit. The essential air service (EAS) provides about a $200 per passenger subsidy for each passenger to and from International Falls.

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