Police recommend more speed control, expansion of siren systemCity of Cloquet department directors have been invited to submit long-term capital improvement plans to the City Council as part of the annual city budget process.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
City of Cloquet department directors have been invited to submit long-term capital improvement plans to the City Council as part of the annual city budget process.
Tuesday night, it was Police Chief Wade Lamirande’s turn.
Before Tuesday’s meeting, the chief outlined a proposed five-year capital improvement plan which would accomplish four main goals:
- Provide a schedule for regular replacement of the department’s 14 vehicles as needed;
- Provide for up to three more “smart signs” which track speed of vehicles in various parts of the city;
- Upgrade the city’s warning siren system; and
- Replace the department’s computer server.
Lamirande noted that his department has been careful in its vehicle use to ease stresses on the budget, but said that smart signs are important to help encourage safer driving.
“People tend to drive at the speed where they feel safe,” he said, noting the entry into Cloquet from Highway 33 as a prime example. “The sightlines are so good there and the road is wide, people feel free to drive from 50 to 55 miles per hour in a zone that isn’t posted for that speed. Drivers won’t stop that behavior unless we enforce [the speed limit].”
Lamirande’s goal is eventually to place signs in places where traffic moves from high speed to low speed zones, such as along the North Cloquet Road, along 14th Street and near school areas.
“Officers wrote six tickets on North Road in the last week after a sign was moved there,” he added. “People will listen if we enforce.”
Lamirande is also concerned about the state of the city’s siren system, noting that a lightning strike damaged one of the sirens located near Churchill Elementary. The city presently has three sirens, with the other two located at Athletic Park and near the old water tower.
“For emergency notification, it’s important that people be able to hear sirens that tell them to take cover,” Lamirande said. “We would like better coverage in the western part of town, so we are talking with the Fond du Lac Reservation about any ideas they have, and in the north part of town near the business park.”
The fourth part of the plan dealt with eventual replacement of the department’s computer server, which will become obsolete as newer systems and software come onto the market.
The council also heard a presentation from Bradley Peterson of the Twin Cities law firm of Flaherty Hood P.A., on behalf of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. Peterson presented the group’s annual Legislative Report to councilors.
Peterson noted that the legislature elected to keep Local Government Aid (LGA) payments level for cities and towns across the state with populations larger than 5,000. Those smaller municipalities received slight raises in their allocations, but Peterson noted that the Legislature’s decisions on Market Value Credits led to greater property tax hikes in greater Minnesota than in the metro area.
He also emphasized the need for a tax bill in the coming Legislative session, which is also expected to re-address the formula for calculating Local Government Aid. LGA is designed to help ease the property tax burden for cities without larger tax bases across the state, though the two largest LGA recipients in Minnesota are Minneapolis and St. Paul.
In the absence of discussion on expanding landfill hours in Cloquet, which is now expected to be discussed in August, the council also:
- Approved the promotion of officer Jeff Palmer to the rank of police sergeant; and
- Amended the city code to expand the allowable use of temporary flag banner signs outside Cloquet businesses from 30 days per year to 120 days per year (businesses would still need to apply for a temporary sign permit to post such signage).