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Morrison delays hiring of parks director

July 25, 2018

MORRISON – The city is moving quickly to find a new parks and recreation director, but officials decided to take a breather before pulling the trigger on an internal candidate for the job.

The matter of appointing Michael Anderson to the position was on the City Council agenda Monday, but it was tabled because of absences.

“The mayor and two aldermen were gone, and we decided that we’d like to have the full council here before we take action on a new hire,” City Administrator Barry Dykhuizen said.

The city would like to hire someone as soon as possible because Travis McBride’s last day on the job is Aug. 10. McBride, who has been parks director since Aug. 17, 2017, resigned to take another job.

Anderson, a Morrison native, has worked in the city’s public works department for nearly 3 years. Anderson could be hired at the Aug. 13 council meeting, but a vote at that session isn’t a given.

“The council could have an executive session to discuss it further or put it up for a vote at the next meeting, but that hasn’t been decided,” Dykhuizen said.

Morrison has no park district to oversee its 82 acres of green space – an unusually large area for a city its size. With no separate park district tax levy, the parks and recreation areas are supported solely by the city’s general fund.

While there is a five-member parks and recreation board, it functions only in an advisory capacity. The board does not vote on the hiring of a director.

Police tax levy increase

Also Monday, Police Chief Brian Melton updated the council on efforts to gain support for a police tax levy increase that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot. The levy increase would allow the police department to hire an additional full-time officer who could be shared with the Morrison school district.

“The chief has taken the lead in talking to the school district about how the position might be structured, but the main focus is on getting the referendum passed,” Dykhuizen said.

The latest estimate from Melton puts the cost of an additional officer between $66,000 and $77,000, including benefits.

Everyone seems to be on board with having a school resource officer, but it isn’t the only driver in seeking the referendum, Melton said.

“The seventh officer is needed regardless of what the schools decide to do,” he said. “Police services calls continue to go and the community has needed this position since it was lost in 2010.”

For the owner of a $100,000 home, the levy increase would tack between $60 and $75 to the annual tax bill.

At the current rate of .075 percent, the police levy brings in about $45,000, which doesn’t even fund the costs of one officer. Morrison’s rate is at the state’s cap, but passing a referendum allows cities to go up to .60 with the levy.

The rate should be raised to 0.225 to fund the officer, which would bring in between $120,000 and $130,000, Melton said.

In that scenario, the owner of a $100,000 home would see an increase of between $60 and $75 to their annual tax bill.

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