Kenyon’s City Council, at its Sept. 10 meeting, appointed Thomas Gard to fill the council seat left vacant by the appointment of Doug Henke as Kenyon’s Mayor and approved a preliminary levy with a maximum increase of 6.6%.

By a vote of 3-1, councilors selected Gard over Teresa Cruz. Although councilors found both candidates to be well spoken, the vote was in favor of Gard, a Kenyon native who recently moved back to the town to retire after a long career as an engineer.

“The both brought different perspectives and it was good,” said Councilor John Mortensen. “I feel that at this point, Tom has a little more experience in some areas.”

Councilor Richard Nielsen was the lone vote in favor of Cruz. Nielsen said that while he liked both candidates, he preferred Cruz because he believed that she would bring a different perspective and background to the council.

Henke was named mayor last month, filling the vacancy left by the July death of Mayor Mike Engel.

Preliminary 2020 levy

As was discussed at the previous week’s work session, the council agreed to set a 6.6% maximum levy increase for 2020. Councilors said they were comfortable with the 6.6% figure as a maximum increase, but would like to see a lower levy when it’s finalized in December.

City Administrator Mark Valshing encouraged the council to consider a slightly larger levy increase and prepared a budget with a proposed 9% levy increase, but councilors preferred the smaller number.

The council approved a plan to issue bonds to fund the city’s reconstruction of Red Wing Avenue from the city Liquor Store south. The council accepted a bid of approximately $280,000 from Mankato-based engineering firm Bolton & Menk.

Improved areas will include not only the street but also the sidewalks and underlying infrastructure. A ½ block stretch of 4th Street adjacent to Red Wing Ave and one block of alley south of Second Street will also be included in the project area.

In other business, the council approved new carpeting for the library. The carpeting will be furnished and installed by Emerson’s Fine Furniture and Flooring of Kenyon for a cost of $14,601.

While the city only included $5,000 for carpet replacement in its 2019 budget, an additional $6,900 will come out of the library reserves and the remaining $2,161 out of general reserves. At the urging of the Library Board, the council also agreed to fund a new paint job for the library.

The council OK’d $12,000 in funding for the Police Department as part of an ongoing improvement of the Kenyon PD’s facilities. The new funding will be used to install secure fencing for the evidence area, add sheetrock to the interview room, put in secure outside locks, and remove the carpeting and put a sealer on concrete floors.

The Council will meet again on Oct. 15.

Reach Reporter Andrew Deziel at 507-333-3129 or follow him on Twitter @FDNandrew.

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