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ROCHESTER CITY COUNCIL NOTEBOOK Council members raise pay 2%

Like almost every other city employee, Rochester's council members and mayor will receive 2 percent pay raises in 2005.

The council approved the raises on a 7-0 vote Monday. The salaries include $31,212 for Mayor Ardell Brede, $22,997 for Council President Dennis Hanson and $17,997 for the other six council members.

In addition, council members and the mayor will receive 8 percent raises in their mileage reimbursements. The increases reflect an increase in the Internal Revenue Service's standardized rate, to 40.5 cents per mile from 37.5 cents per mile.

But rather than tracking actual miles, the officials are paid a monthly stipend to cover anticipated travel costs. Brede will receive $173 per month, Hanson $151 per month, and the other council members $135 per month.

The overall cost of the mileage raise will be $1,008 for the year.

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First meeting for member Carr

Pat Carr, the newly elected Ward 4 council member, was not swept off his feet in his first official meeting.

After the "humbling" experience of winning the election, he said, "this is anticlimactic, really.

"It's exactly what I expected, because I'm familiar with the process," he said.

Carr sat quietly during most of the meeting but questioned approving paying the city's accounts payable, saying a single-page summary, identifying $15.2 million in disbursements, was not enough information.

Finance Director Dale Martinson said line-by-line details of city spending are available in password-protected areas of the city's Web site. Carr asked whether Martinson would consider providing a summary with greater detail. Martinson said he would.

"I'm not going to micro-manage the budget," Carr said after the meeting, "but I feel it's my obligation for my constituents to know that I'm vigilant that the money is being spent properly.

"I don't want to come off as being negative about it, but maybe we're glossing over some spending that we need to look at closer."

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Development gets preliminary OK

Preliminary plats for adjoining north-side residential developments, Morris Hills and Morris North subdivisions, passed the council on two 7-0 votes.

Pending final approval, the developments will cover about 105 acres along the east side of U.S. 63 North, just north of ShopKo. They would share access to U.S. 63 at 41st Street.

Residents of nearby subdivisions opposed the plans on the grounds that traffic management and drainage plans are not fully resolved. However, before the council gives final approval, the project will need a traffic study, done in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and a city-approved grading plan.

Hilly topography limits the development potential of the site. Taken together, the developments would have 127 residential lots, said Wade DuMond, a Yaggy Colby consultant representing the developer, Morris Land Development LLC.

"One-hundred twenty-seven homes is not that many homes," DuMond said.

Development would proceed slowly, said Richard Argue, who owns the development firm. Argue said he does not plan to seek a final plat for about a year and said the neighborhood would be built in four phases over about seven years.

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