by Beth Balmanno

Contributing Writer

The Otsego City Council unanimously approved a proposal for a new day care facility in Great River Center at its Sept. 24 council meeting.

Lil Explorers is proposing a 16,171-square-foot day care facility that would be licensed for 190 children. Facilities would include 10 classrooms, a gymnasium and four playgrounds around the building. Council complimented the proposed building design and agreed with the Planning Commission’s assessment that the proposed business is needed in Otsego.

The City Council was split on a decision to add the position of a full-time deputy clerk to city administration. The recommendation was initiated at the May 28 budget kick-off meeting, and again on July 29, with the council generally supporting the request. However, council members Jason Warehime and Tina Goede questioned the hiring need at the Sept. 24 council meeting, citing they wanted additional information before moving forward with the request. City Administrator Adam Flaherty said the city used to have an assistant city clerk, and that Tami Loff, current city clerk, was promoted from that position in 2009. Since then, Flaherty said, workloads have increased due to the growth the city has experienced, as well as additional duties added to the city clerk’s responsibilities.

Council members Corey Tanner and Tom Darkenwald expressed support for adding the position, as did Mayor Jessica Stockamp, and the motion carried 3-2. The job description will be finalized and then advertised in October.

Council also discussed setting interviews for the city attorney position, as City Attorney Andrew MacArthur had previously announced his retirement at the end of the year. Four firms responded to the city’s request for proposal for municipal legal services, and City Administrator Flaherty will work to schedule interviews with these firms in October.

Daniel Bittman, superintendent of ISD 728, was in attendance at the council meeting to address council members regarding the 2019 referendum that will be on the ballot this November. He spoke of the growth the school district is experiencing, especially in the Otsego area, saying, “For the first time in the history of ISD 728, enrollment in the south has taken over that in the center region and the northern region of the district.”

As the eighth largest school district in the state, Bittman said ISD 728 is expected to add more than 2,000 students in the next five to 10 years: “It’s been consistent that we’ve had about 200 to 300 more students every year, and that will continue to happen.”

Despite the district’s size, ISD 728 receives the least amount of funding compared to the other large school districts in the state.

“Out of the 15 largest school districts in the state of Minnesota, we are dead last in funding,” he said. “Said differently, we can’t continue to provide the same level of support and service as other districts or that we have been doing without additional revenue.”

Otsego would see a new middle school if the referendum passes, and across the board, the district would see funding for school materials, student support, and academic programs.  The tax impact on the average homeowner ($250,000 value home) would be less than $32 per month. Information about the levy can be found at www.isd728.org/728strong or by calling 763-274-6277.

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