At its July 16 meeting, the Wyoming City Council voted to increase the term of mayor from two years to four.

The council chambers were filled and several residents commented on the proposed move, which changes the position’s length to match the four-year terms served by council members. The change will be in effect for the next mayoral term. The next mayoral election in Wyoming is set for November 2020.

After community members commented – including former Mayor Neil Gatzow, who said keeping the term at two years allowed residents to have a voice in the path the city takes – Councilwoman Linda Nanko-Yeager criticized the proposal.

“I believe this diminishes the people’s right [to choose],” she said.

Mayor Lisa Iverson ultimately abstained from the vote but said that as a mayor, “it takes a while to catch your stride. Having a four-year-term mayor allows them time. [It] gives a chance for continuity. This is one of those things that I have talked to many people about.” She added that she hopes any mayor would go out and talk to residents more than just during an election cycle.

Councilman Dennis Schilling pointed out that even with the change, the council will still change regularly with the will of the people, as the staggered election cycle results in at least two seats being up for election every two years. He added that residents need to stay involved, pointing out that if the public really wants to make a change in the middle of an official’s term, they can advocate.

“People can resign and can get pushed out,” he said. “The people solved the problem. ... You will always be able to flip it.”

Iverson abstained from the vote, and Councilman Joe Zerwas was not present. Yeager voted against the change, but Schilling and Councilwoman Claire Luger voted in favor. According to city staff, only a simple majority of those voting was required to pass the measure, as it is an ordinance change.

Street projects

The City Council awarded North Valley Inc. the 2019 street improvement project. This project consists mostly of improvements to Fairview Avenue around Fairview Lakes Medical Center. However, City Engineer Mark Erichson added that there were some alternates added to the project. The city had some patchwork projects that it was not able to get standalone bids on, so the city decided to add the patchwork on East Viking Boulevard to the main street project as an alternate.

“There is a tremendously high volume of work this year,” Erichson said.

Alternate 1 consisted of removing 1 1/2 inches of pavement and replacing it as an overlay.

Alternate 2 was a pavement replacement with removing 4 inches of pavement and replacing it.

The bid from North Valley for the main project was $527,025, with an additional $36,490 for alternate 1 and $44,786 for alternate 2. Erichson said alternate 2 is a “far superior project that will last much longer.” He recommended going with alternate 2.

The city voted unanimously to approve the bid with alternate 2.

For the 2019 crack fill project, Erichson said the city had received “fantastic” bids. Gopher State Sealcoat was the low bid at $17,852. Erichson added that Gopher State had done work in Wyoming previously and had done a good job. He recommended up to $20,000 to allow for some quantity changes. The council unanimously approved the bid.

The council also unanimously approved a bid of $5,962.50 from AAA Striping Service to restripe a portion of East Viking Boulevard between Fenwick Avenue and Glen Oak Drive. The striping was originally part of a project that would have also included a new road seal, but that portion was tabled as the city considers the best way to move forward (learn more in the July 18 story, “Wyoming considers new bridge planning”).

City Administrator Robb Linwood had previously suggested that the city undertake some long-term financial planning that would take into consideration Wyoming’s growth. Consulting firm Abdo, Eick and Meyers presented a proposal for long-term financial planning at a cost of $9,500.

“I think this is really important because things do change,” Mayor Lisa Iverson said. She added that she felt it was important to be prepared. The council approved the proposal unanimously.

In other news, Kristin Mroz of Minnesota GreenStep Cities attended the meeting to present the city with a certificate and signage signifying the city as a GreenStep city.

The GreenStep Cities program aims to work with Minnesota cities to develop sustainability and environmentally friendly programs. Mroz said the city has completed 15 sustainability projects, which is what is required for the initial recognition as a GreenStep city.

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