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City work continues

The city has taken precautions and steps necessary to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic including visitor/employee recommendations for a safe work environment, meetings via technology when possible, and assisting the community with related preparedness measures. Despite the pandemic, the City has maintained most of its operations to provide critical and community supported services.

Staff are busy preparing the 2021 Budget with the preliminary budget due in September. The current uncertainty with the 2020 revenues and expenditures makes it difficult to project what the 2021 budget and eventual levy will arrive at in terms of total dollars requested. A large portion of revenues are derived from the sales tax–both general and food, beverage and lodging (FBL). To date, the impact on COVID on sales tax revenue won’t be known until mid-July.

We however are aware that FBL sales tax could be the hardest hit for the months of April and May when restaurants and bars were not able to operate to full capacity and hotels saw large declines in room occupancy based on Stay at Home and Stay Safe orders in place by the Governor.

Soon the city will become a recipient of CARES act funding in the amount of $1,038,000 which could help with some of the city’s 2020 expenditures. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on March 27. The city will be reviewing US Treasury guidance on allowable reimbursement for COVID related expenses, but most importantly, the city will also devote a large portion of the CARES act funding for business assistance.

City Hall renovation and construction is on schedule to be completed in June/July of 2021. In recent weeks, work has been done to remove concrete from the lower level as well as shoring up the foundation as a result of the foundations from the 1964 and 1914 city hall buildings still present.

The former hotel demolition has begun and will mean the opportunity to ensure that the hotel does not create future issues with City Hall with water intrusion between the two buildings a concern if the hotel remained. The space left vacant by the hotel will be developed into additional parking near the alley and green space facing Main Street. The consideration of utilizing the hotel sign and other historical concepts into the green space will be discussed with the County Museum.

The city has two street construction projects approved for this summer-First Street and Fourth Street. Both are major reconstruction projects that will improve water, storm and sewer lines in addition to street resurfacing. A storm water project to improve drainage along Legion Field Road will also occur this summer.

As a result of Gov. Walz’s orders to Stay Home/Stay Safe, a large portion of our Community Services work for recreation and parks were at a standstill in the last several months.

Now that there are allowances to re-open, parks, recreation and related sports field/facilities are once again able to provide opportunities for participation. We have been working with our sports associations on safe guidelines for play which closely follow Minnesota Department of Health.

The city is preparing for upcoming elections in collaboration with Lyon County. On the ballot in 2020: U.S. President, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, State Senator, State Representative, Judicial Seats. The state primary is Aug. 11 and the general election is Nov. 3, 2020. Election information and absentee ballots are now available at www.mnvotes.org

The US Census continues to be conducted with 72% of all households already responding in Marshall to date. The census is vitally important to Marshall and the region not only for government funding and programs, but economic development is often hinged on the prospect of population as people support commerce. Complete the 2020 Census at 2020census.gov

As we move forward throughout the upcoming year, we will continue to evaluate all of our work as it relates to COVID, but most importantly, maintain critical services.

— Sharon Hanson is the city administrator for the city of Marshall

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