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Baxter City Council Approves Body Cameras

BAXTER—The Baxter City Council on Tuesday heard from Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted on the department's adoption of body cameras for its officers.
Exsted proposed another public comment period to fulfill requirement by state law if the city wants to buy body cameras. The council's agenda included one Tuesday, but nobody from the public was there to comment.
In two weeks, the city council will host a work session on body camera policy, open for the public to attend. Although work sessions typically do not allow for public comment, residents may comment on the plan during the city council meeting to immediately follow.
The department hopes to purchase the cameras sometime next year, Exsted said.

The council gave final approval to the 2018 city budget, completing a process that began in July.

It includes a property tax levy of just over $6 million, counting a debt service levy of $1.076 million and an operating levy of $4.927 million. The 2018 levy as a whole is just over $210,000 more than the prior year.
According to city estimates, taxes for a residential property worth $175,000 will go up $12, from $772 to $784. Those numbers assume property values stay flat from 2017 to 2018.
This year was a slower year for new construction in the city, meaning the tax base grew to a lesser degree. A total of $8,817,100 in new market value was created in 2017, compared to $15,181,700 last year.
The Baxter City Council approved the budget the same day Minnesota officials announced the state government faced a $188 million deficit.

In other business, the council:
Heard about new school locations from Steve Lund, Brainerd School District director of business services. The district's preferred site for a new elementary school is on land the city of Baxter owns near Forestview Middle School.
Awarded the contract for 2018 road reconstruction project in an amount not to exceed $172,752 to construction firm WSB & Associates. Following a bidding process in which WSB competed against other firms, Public Works Director Trevor Walter recommended the council select them for the contract.
Approved an agreement saying the Baxter Police Department would take part in the Minnesota Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force. According to a staff memo to the council, being part of the task force entails sending an officer to represent the department at regular meetings, as well as being available in the event of a trafficking investigation in the Baxter area.