Changes to NB council vacancy policy not approved

Currently, if there’s a vacancy on the North Branch City Council, the serving council members have the option to conduct interviews of candidates to fill the empty seat.

But according to city policy on filling vacancies, the council does not have to conduct interviews.

The council members could simply come to a consensus about a candidate they like and the mayor would then appoint that person.

In the event of a tie, the mayor has ultimate authority to choose whomever he or she wants to fill the vacant council post.

A suggestion to change that policy was discussed at the Monday City Council meeting, but the idea was voted down 3-2 with council members Ron Lindquist, Theresa Furman and Kathy Blomquist on the prevailing side.

Mayor Amy Oehlers and Council Member Joel McPherson voted in favor of the change.

The proposed amendment to the policy would have required the council to conduct interviews with candidates seeking an appointment to the council.

Oehlers said she voted in favor of the amendment because she had been approached by people who were candidates for vacant council posts, and they told her they would have liked the council to vote on their appointments, rather than the council just coming to a decision and the candidates not knowing the reasoning for that decision.

Liquor feasibility study

During the latter portion of the meeting, Blomquist suggested the city complete a feasibility study about the effect of transferring the city’s municipal liquor license from the defunct Tower Liquors to County Market because the mayor was absent for the meeting when the topic was last discussed.

Lindquist said according to Roberts Rules of Order, the issue could not be addressed because it had already been voted on in August, and only a member of the prevailing side – he or Furman – could call for the proposal to be discussed again.

City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad clarified that any member of the council could make a motion to renew discussion, but Oehlers stepped in and said discussing Blomquist’s proposal would best suited for another meeting.

Furman then asked why the city should be conducting a $6,000 feasibility study on the issue.

“The reason for the feasibility study is that this is a multi-million dollar asset that is owned by 10,000 people in town,” Blomquist said. “This is something the council should look at from a business standpoint.”

Furman again questioned Blomquist’s reasoning.

“So, if that’s the concept, would you want to do the same thing with ESSBY when a business comes in at a different location?” she asked. “You’ll want a feasibility study to see if it would be in competition with the land we’re selling for ESSBY?”

Oehlers said Furman’s comments were off topic and the meeting was adjourned shortly after discussion about Blomquist’s proposal ended.

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