Redwood Falls City Council approves wage, fee increases

Christopher Schmitz
Special to the Gazette

At their Dec. 7 meeting the Redwood Falls City Council approved a 3% cost of living increase for non-union employees who hold their positions in 2022 (excluding part-time liquor store employees) and a $1 hourly increase for the firefighters' wage. Part-time Liquor Store pay will increase their step pay plan by 50 cents for each step in their pay progression, which they will receive on their anniversary date. An additional increase was made for library clerks.

The Council adjusted charges for sanitary sewer, storm sewer, and water charges in 2022. Users will see an increase to the following rates. Water Base Charge: $14.09 per meter per month; Water Usage Charge: $6.49 per 100 cubic feet; Sanitary Sewer Base Charge: $11.65 per meter per month; Sanitary Sewer Usage Charge: $3.76 per 100 cubic feet of water consumed; Storm Sewer Utility Charge: $10.01 per month per 1 Residential Equivalency Factor.

The Council also adjusted charges for electricity in accordance with the Public Utilities Commission. Costs will increase slightly depending on the service classification and solar purchase rates will nearly double per KwH to $0.04284.

In March 2021, Congress adopted the American Rescue Plan Act which included $65 billion in recovery funds for cities across the country. The original allocation for Minnesota cities was approximately $105.81 per capita and a total of $525,169.88 was allocated to the City of Redwood Falls. After the deadline to request ARPA funding passed in October 2021, the remaining unclaimed funds were redistributed amongst eligible governments who previously requested ARPA funding. The redistribution amount came to approximately $3.47 per capita, and the City of Redwood Falls received an additional $17,197.86. The Council formally accepted the funds by resolution. The original allocation and the redistribution will be distributed in two tranches with half received in 2021 and the second half in 2022.

The Council approved the dissolution of the Hospital Auxiliary group, which has decided to dissolve due to dwindling number of active members, as well as limited fund raising opportunities for the group. The Auxiliary was established when the City owned the hospital.

In November 2018, Council passed a Resolution committing $5,000,000 retained from the Redwood Area Hospital Transfer Agreement to be used for future tax levy stabilization. In May of 2020, the Council approved a purchase agreement to acquire two parcels of land for $3,000,000. The intended funding for this land purchase was a portion of the proceeds retained from the Hospital Transfer. Because other funds have been used to cover the cost of the land, deficit balances have resulted. The retained funds will be used for the purchase of the land, as well as future infrastructure costs of the Reflections Development Projects. The City Council passed a resolution allowing them to recommit the earmarked funds and use those dollars for economic development.

The next meeting of the Redwood Falls City Council is Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 5 p.m.