This year might not have mirrored the housing boom of the early 2000s in North Branch, but there was some good news on the new construction front, according to city officials.
At the Nov. 26 North Branch City Council meeting, Mayor Amy Oehlers referenced a building activity report that showed 20 new homes had been started in the city this year.
City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad said other permits for new construction had been awarded since the report was drafted.
“This is substantially higher than what we had been doing since 2007,” Oehlers said. “So, that’s good for us.”
City Finance Director Richard Hill mentioned during the meeting healthcare costs for non-bargaining employees would be going up by 4 percent next year.
He noted that number was less than expected; the city had budgeted for a 5.75 percent increase.
The council voted 3-2 to have the city cover that increase.
Mayor Oehlers and council members Joel McPherson and Kathy Blomquist voted in approval of the measure.
Council members Ron Lindquist and Theresa Furman cast opposing votes.
At the end of the meeting, Oehlers said the city’s annual Christmas tree lighting in Central park will take place at 6:30 p.m. today.
The public is welcome to attend.