Winnebago City Council held a special meeting at 6 p.m. last Tuesday, Dec. 13, for two items that could have been part of their regular meeting agenda one hour later.
City Administrator Judi Hynes explains why a public hearing for a water rate increase was included with a Truth-in-Taxation hearing.
“We thought there would be a lot of people here and it was just to save time,” she says.
The special meeting took about 40 minutes and council members had to sit and wait for the start of the 7 p.m. council meeting, which also lasted about 40 minutes.
Hynes says local residents were adequately informed of the special meeting through the city’s website and social media page, a posting at City Hall and a public notice in its official publication.
“Usually the Truth-in-Taxation hearing is part of the regular council meeting, but I don’t think that is a requirement,” says City Attorney David Frundt.
He says additional items can be discussed during a special meeting only if they are listed on the agenda.
According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue website, if a regular monthly meeting is not scheduled after Nov. 24 and no later than Dec. 28 at 6 p.m. or later, it will be necessary to schedule a special meeting.
Less than 10 residents attended the special meeting to air their comments before the council voted to increase the cost per thousand gallons of water from $5 to $7. In the past, city officials have said rates need to be raised because the Water Fund had a negative balance of more than $258,000.
That means the average household using 2,500 gallons a month will be paying $60 more a year for water, while those using 3,500 gallons will pay an extra $84.
Without any public comment, council members approved a final tax levy of $863,406 for 2023. That is nearly 9 percent more than last year’s levy.