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Northfield City Work Session - January 22, 2013

January 23, 2013 at 4:01 pm
By Jane McWilliams

Convention and Visitors Bureau Presentation:  Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Mary Schmelzer and several members of the Chamber and the CVB joined the council at the table for a presentation and discussion of the CVB’s strategic plan. Ms. Schmelzer presented a comprehensive explanation of the CVB marketing plan and the 2013 budget.

In September 2012 following the decision to rethink the contractual relationship of the Chamber and the CVB, the council asked the staff to prepare an outline of a model in which the CVB would no longer be administered through the Chamber, but would report directly to the council.  When the Chamber board responded negatively to the proposed outline and asked that the continued through 2012, the council asked that the CVB meet with them to discuss how the structure might be improved.

Councilor Suzy Nakasian, who represents the council on the CVB, said the review of the relationship arose because of concerns in the community about its role and effectiveness. Specifically, she noted that there were no “stakeholders’ on the board – groups with the same goals as the CVB who could be resources for programming. She also suggested that a more central location would assure higher visibility to visitors.  Councilor Erica Zweifel said that the location isn’t as important as “outside the box thinking”. 

Councilor Jessica Peterson White noted that there is a sizeable reserve ($174,929,81) and wondered how the funds are used to assure innovation.  Ms. Schmeltzer replied that $50,000 of the $174,920.81 reserve funds is earmarked to be used for a multi-year campaign designed by a contracted public relations firm. Warning that the council should stay out of the CVB programming, but to let them do their job, Councilor David Ludescher said, “if we get involved, they will do what they think we want rather than what the board agrees is needed.”

The council will approve the budget at their February 5 meeting, as well as consider a fund balance policy, a plan for including stakeholders on the board and bylaw changes including removing the requirement that CVB members be Chamber members to be drafted by staff.  There was nothing explicitly stated, to that effect, but it appears that the CVB contract will stay in place, even if modified slightly. 

Rules of Business:  The council reviewed their operating document, which contained recent changes the previous council had made and to which City Administrator Tim Madigan made suggestions for additional changes.  Councilor Peterson White remarked that Mr. Madigan’s suggestion that “efficient meetings do not overly rely heavily on parliamentary procedure” implies that the council not follow Robert’s Rules. “We’ve found that it is a good way to do business,” she said. 

They discussed the recently agreed to statement about “Policy statements of social issues” which was created this fall when consideration of matters like taking a position on constitutional issues on the November ballot arose.  Councilor Rhonda Pownell commented that the council had agreed not to take up matters not on their work plan and get diverted to other issues.  In addition, she said they had not traditionally taken position on partisan issues. Mr. Madigan suggested that this could be replaced by a policy on how a council member may add something to the agenda. Councilor Ludescher suggested when an item is added, staff can advise whether the city has authority to act on it.

Extending their meeting time by majority vote, limiting public statements as well as staff presentations, a policy for permitting information from public to be distributed to councilors ahead of meetings, and setting a time before meetings for council to meet with the public were all ideas individuals had for conducting meetings and being accessible to public input.  Mayor Dana Graham said he doesn’t like council reports unless one is a voting member of a group in which case they have a responsibility to inform the council and to convey the council’s wishes, even if they are contrary to one’s own. 

21013 Work Plan:  Reviewing the chart of major issues and new and returned projects, redevelopment projects, and administrative issues and projects, the council began a process they will continue at their January 29 retreat, which will be facilitated by consultant Sheila Krejci.

Closed Session:  Prior to the work session, the council held a closed session for labor negotiations. Neither the Mayor nor the City Administrator made comments or reported on this during the subsequent public work session. 

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