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Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - The Rochester City Council is being asked to consider some possible changes dealing with two of the city’s boards.

The city Charter Commission is recommending the changes dealing with the Library and Parks boards.

According to the city attorney, “The proposed changes create a dramatic shift in policy.”

A public hearing on the proposed changes is scheduled to be held by the City Council at its Wednesday meeting.

According to information given to the Council:

Currently, the Council approves the non-capital budgets for the two departments. The boards then make decisions on how the budgets are spent. If the proposed changes are approved, the Park Board and Library Board become advisory only and the majority of the decisions they currently make revert back to the staff.

The proposed changes are summarized as follows:
Library Board:

  •  Add two non-voting members - one appointed by the Council and one by the County Commission.
  •  Moves the Library Fund out of the Library Board control.
  •  Removes the power of the Board to hire/fire a director and places this charge with the City Administrator.
  •  Removes the power of the Board to manage the library.
  • Removes the power of the Board to accept donations.

Park Board:

  • Adds one non-voting member - appointed by the Council.
  • Removes the power of the Board to hire/fire a director and places this charge with the City Administrator.
  • Removes the power of managing the parks budget. Makes their input advisory.
    Removes the power to accept gifts, without Council approval.
  • Removes the requirement for the Board President to audit all bills and accounts.

City Attorney Jason Loos says “ It should be noted that the Park Board and Library Board generally oppose the changes.”

Loos added this Input:

  • Adding non-voting members to the boards does not make sense. It would likely create confusion and frankly, likely be difficult to find individuals wanting to be non-voting members.
  • Removing the power to hire/fire the Director of each board makes sense and follows the actual practice (from what I understand). This language is outdated and does not reflect current practice.
  • Removing the requirement for the Park Board President to audit all bills makes sense. This is outdated language.
  • The other changes that affect these boards oversight ability might be partially based on some incorrect assumptions. These Boards have no authority or ability to purchase real estate, indebt the City or otherwise expend funds not authorized by Council. However, these Boards do have a large role in shaping policy and direct how their respective departments function.

After the public hearing, the City Council can:

  • Move to set this item for a vote during the March 1, 2021, meeting
  • Approve the proposed changes as set forth by the Charter Commission. (requires unanimous approval by State law)
  •  Send the matter back to the Charter Commission with proposed changes to their proposal.
  • Deny the proposed changes

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