Keep an eye on staffing
As we recently noted, City Hall in Fairmont has been reducing staff through attrition and combining duties.
We hope the city leaders who have made these tough but wise decisions keep an eye on the city's police force, which numbers 17. The police chief this week defended the staffing level, and we generally trust his judgment. But he is also protecting his department, as any leader would. It therefore falls on elected officials and city administrators to make sure the police department is as efficient as it should be.
In general terms, Fairmont is getting smaller (population-wise) and older. Serious crime is down significantly. It is not out of line to consider staffing levels.
Levy hikes low already
A trio of government entities set their preliminary property tax levy increases this week. Martin and Faribault counties, along with the city of Blue Earth, certified their 2013 levies. Faribault County came in at 2.5 percent, Martin County at 5.95 percent and Blue Earth at 6.7 percent.
What's significant, we believe, is that these levies can be lowered, but not raised, as these entities finalize their budgets for next year. That means the increases, which are not too bad now, could be smaller still. We hope that is the case.
Students gain insights
Martin County Youth Career Development program recently completed its first summer, with 13 high school and college students participating in paid work at businesses in the county.
Students definitely found their internship experiences valuable, and likely noticed that they can come back to their hometown area to find a rewarding career. We hope businesses got something out of the program as well.
We are concerned about the $50,000 cost to the county for the program. Perhaps there is some private funding solution possible? Or maybe students could participate as unpaid interns for a shorter time period.
In any case, kudos to the county for coordinating this effort, to the businesses that took part, and to the students for their interest and hard work.