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City Council: Energy credits, police initiatives and union contracts

The next Hastings City Council Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, at City Hall. Here's a look at a few things up for discussion:

A proposal has been submitted to the council regarding renewable energy credit (REC) management services. The hydroelectric facility at Lock and Dam No. 2 in Hastings is owned by the city. Power produced at the facility is sold to Xcel Energy. But the facility also produces RECs, and in September, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission rules that the RECs are the property of the city. Xcel had argued that the credits were included in its power purchase agreement.

Having confirmed ownership of the RECs, the City of Hastings needs to certify and sell the RECs, which will generate income for the city. Avant Energy submitted a proposal to manage, certify and sell RECs on the city's behalf. The cost would be $1,000 per year, plus a 5 percent fee on gross revenue from REC sales. A rough estimate on revenue from REC sales may be as much as $10,000 for 2011.

The city will also consider authorizing staff to submit an application to the League of Minnesota Cities to serve as a host city for Community Conversations as part of the League's "Cities, Services and Funding: Broader Thinking, Better Solutions" project. The project is intended to engage the public throughout the state in a serious dialogue on the services Minnesotans expect to receive and how they should be paid for. The goals of the program include education and sharing information with the public about city services, the future of city services and the mechanisms to fund those services. A host city may have its own services referenced, but the discussion is meant to focus on all cities in general. If selected, the city would be expected to reach out to the community to promote the event.

The police department will present an update on its policing priorities and department initiatives in 2011. Based on the results of a community survey conducted last fall, four policing priorities are domestic and family violence, traffic, theft and theft-related crime and drug and alcohol offenses. New initiatives include a "most wanted" web presence, public access to city crime mapping, active participation in Crime Stoppers of MN, leadership and career development, increased focus on performance measurement, increased collaboration with partners, technology assessments and improved internal integrity training, monitoring and investigation.

At the end of the meeting, the council will hold a closed-door session to discuss with staff strategies for labor negotiations with each of the four unions representing city employees. The unions are the 49er's Union, representing Parks, Public Works and Engineering employees; Police Supervisors Union; LELS, representing the Patrol Officers Union; and the Firefighters Union.

To see the full city council agenda, including more details on each item, click here.