The Little Falls City Council has decided to change its planning and zoning administration company from Hometown Planning to Sourcewell.

Recently Hometown Planning proposed a contract of 69 hours per month at a rate of $3,800 a month. Sourcewell proposed 80 hours a month at a rate of $3,000 a month, because Little Falls is in the Region 5 area, which Sourcewell is based in.

The work includes city planning, permit work, zoning reviews and more.

City Administrator Jon Radermacher recommended Sourcewell as the city would get more hours for less cost and the people from Sourcewell the city would work with would be local.

“I think there are some additional opportunities and future development we can gain by working with Sourcewell’s team,” Radermacher said.

This could be an opportunity to look at having office hours the planning and zoning administrator would be available, or doing on site inspections, he said.

Public Works Director Greg Kimman said the Planning Commission was hoping it could speak with a representative from Sourcewell and give its input before a decision is made.

The Commission wanted to get a feel for the person it would be working with, he said.

Kimman had informed the Commission about the vote during when the council packet came out Thursday.

Mayor Greg Zylka said he appreciates the work the Planning Commission members do for the city, but said he was uneasy about the idea that the Council has to get the go ahead from boards and commissions before it makes these decisions.

“I think this would set a bad precedent,” Zylka said.

Councilman Gerry Knafla, who sits on the Commission, said for the non-council members of the Commission, the move came as a big surprise.

“They just would have appreciated knowing ahead of time that this was in the works,” Knafla said.

The Commission works with the zoning administrator very closely and relies on their analysis to make a decision on issues.

Councilman Frank Gosiak, who also sits on the Commission, said the group has a good opinion of Ben Oleson, Hometown Planning’s representative to the city.

Councilman Leif Hanson said he understands that ultimately these decisions are the Council’s to make, but the various boards and commissions should be informed of the potential changes ahead of time.

Zylka said he agreed with that idea.

The motion to hire Sourcewell was approved 5-1, with Gosiak voting against the measure.

Zylka abstained as he sits on the Sourcewell Board of Directors.

Councilwoman Raquel Lundberg was absent.

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