Recently, the city of Britt participated in a 2-day strategic planning session with facilitators from Hue Life – a Minneapolis based firm that works with municipalities to take ideas, aspirations and goals and turn them into exciting realities.
City staff, council members, business leaders, various community members and I worked to create a vision for Britt’s future, laying out a series of actionable steps for the next 6 months to a year, as well as a 5 year strategy. Part of this process included utilizing the responses from last year’s resident survey to help shape some of our priorities and community wish list items.
One of the key discussions during the 2-day session centered around the idea of improving communication between the city and residents, increasing the number of opportunities to engage with myself and the council outside of regular council meetings. We understand not everyone may be available to attend city meetings and others would prefer a less formal setting.
With that in mind, we’ve come up with two new ways to interact – Happy Hour with the Mayor and Council on the Move.
Happy Hour with the Mayor will be an informal gathering the first Wednesday of every month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Britt Bar & Grill.
My hope is this give folks an opportunity to come ask questions about what’s going on in the city in a relaxed and casual atmosphere. We’ll discuss what happened at the previous night’s council meeting and then give everyone a chance to share any ideas or concerns they may have. Each month, I’ll ask someone to join me, whether it be a council member, city employee or a member of one of our community groups, that way you’ll have the opportunity to hear from others as well. I hope you’ll join us. We can drink a beer together and chat about the community we all love.
Think of Council on the Move as a City Council Road Show – once a quarter we’ll hold one of our regularly scheduled council meetings at a location in town outside of City Hall. Whether it’s at the bowling alley, the Summit House or one of the restaurants in town, our goal is to bring the council meeting out to the community. We’re hoping this may encourage more people to attend and participate in their local government. Stay tuned for more info on our first “on location” meeting.
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Also during our strategic planning session, many of you again voiced your desire for the city to address repairs on 1st Street SW.
As you may or may not know, the council has been planning repairs of 1st Street for the last several years. The largest issue is the cost to completely redo the structure of the street itself, as well as the utilities and infrastructure under the road. The price tag for those repairs are just over $3 million.
Cities are only allowed to legally borrow a certain amount of money at a time in the form of bonds or loans to ensure their ability to remain fiscally responsible (this is what’s referred to as our debt capacity).
Our current council and I, as well as previous administrations, have always taken the advice of our financial advisors and choose to only borrow up to 80% of our debt capacity – leaving access to money in case of an emergency.
As we pay off debts like the pool, previous street projects, etc., the amount of money we can borrow increases. By June of 2022, we will have paid off enough of the city’s bonds to be able to borrow the amount of money required to completely fix 1st Street and the underground infrastructure. BUT… the good news is, the council voted on Sept. 17 to do a blacktop overlay on 1st Street to replace the surface of the damaged road.
Realistically, an overlay is not the best option for 1st Street. However, this will give the community much needed relief from the rough road and large potholes. We’ll also continue to do overlays on other streets each year to improve those that don’t require the same kind of infrastructure work as this project – and in 2022 our intent is to begin the processes of completely rebuilding 1st Street.