By Kris Goracke


“Very healthy,” were the words of David Meyer as he discussed Starbuck’s financial state.  

During the regular monthly Starbuck City Council meeting, Meyer highlighted key points from the independent 2023 auditor’s report, noting that the general fund’s cash and investment balance at the end of 2023 was $1,937,076, showing an increase of $1,067,501 since 2019.

Meyer further elaborated that the state auditor recommends cities maintain reserves of at least 35-50% of total receipts. Starbuck exceeds this recommendation, with a reserve of 123%. Moreover, while the state auditor suggests cities have at least five months’ worth of receipts in the fund balance, Starbuck has 17 months’ worth.

Meyer noted the city’s fund balance is primarily fueled by property taxes, with Starbuck collecting $703,668 in 2023, a significant increase from $467,362 collected in 2019.  Property taxes make up 44.8% of the city’s receipts, it was stated, and increases in property value means tax increases and that equals higher collections.  

He also pointed out that the water and sewer funds were healthy, indicating that these areas could cover their costs. Additionally, the Hobo Park Fund has a strong cash position, with a balance of $1,012,832 in 2023 compared to $778,289 in 2019.

Finally, Meyer provided information about the bonded debt. He anticipated a decline in the debt from $427,377 in 2024 to $139,775 in 2028. However, Meyer mentioned that the final details of Series 2020B and 2020C, which are related to the 2020 Road Project, were not yet known at the end of 2023.

Plan revealed to fight 

aquatic invasive species 

Next before the council was Matt Swanson, operations manager of TIGRIS.  Swanson presented an in-depth plan to tackle the Starry Stonewort and Eurasian Milfoil infestations in the Starbuck Marina. TIGRIS, known for its expertise in surface water management, has successfully assisted the Minnewaska Lake Association in combating invasive species in Lake Minnewaska, it was stated

To address the Eurasian Milfoil, Swanson recommended using ProcellaCOR EC, a newer herbicide known for its targeted action against Eurasian Milfoil with minimal impact on other vegetation. Swanson explained, “This herbicide is a game-changer, as it requires significantly lower application rates than other herbicides, reducing environmental and human impacts.”

For Starry Stonewort, Swanson proposed using Cutrine Plus, which contains Chelated Copper as its active ingredient. He highlighted the success of this product and TIGRIS’s advanced application techniques, which include a GPS-controlled spray system that injects the herbicide below the water surface, ensuring immediate contact with the targeted vegetation. This precise application method and real-time GPS mapping adjustments enhance the treatment’s effectiveness.

Council member Steve Gorder inquired about the treatment’s longevity, asking if the marina would require annual treatments. Swanson noted that in some cases, treatments have provided successful control for 3 to 5 years, reducing the need for frequent applications.

During the discussion, the council emphasized the importance of notifying boat owners renting slips to remove their boats during the treatment period.

Several members of the Minnewaska Lake Association attended the council meeting to endorse the hiring of TIGRIS. Mike Stai, who is a board member of MLA, informed the council about a grant from Pope County that could potentially cover up to 80% of the cost of treatment. After discussion, the council approved the proposal put forward by TIGRIS.

In other updates, Mayor Swenson mentioned an upcoming meeting with MnDOT on April 24 regarding speed limits and walkways south of town by the city beach. He also shared that the city is within budget for the lighthouse project. Dennis Lawson, grandson of the original lighthouse builder, has offered to construct the new lighthouse if the city provides the materials. The new lighthouse will have a similar design to the former one.

City Clerk Joan Kerkvliet reported the sale of city equipment through Zielsdorf Auction, with total proceeds being $25,435.50. Of that amount, $20,460 will go to the Starbuck Fire Department fund, and $4,975 will go to the Starbuck street funds.

In new business, the council:

•Accepted the 2023 audit results presented by CDS.

•Received a $5,000 payment from Beachside RV Park toward the Starbuck Multi-Use path.

•Approved a donation from Joanne Holten to the Starbuck Police Department in memory of Jerry Holten.

•Approved a pre-and post-survey of the Starbuck Marina for invasive species by Steve McComas for $780.

•Authorized the execution of a MnDOT grant agreement for airport improvement.

•Discussed a snow removal request from Pope/Douglas Solid Waste for the recycling site, suggesting the facility seek a private contractor.

•Accepted the resignation of administrative assistant Charleen Drewes and approved advertising for a replacement.