The Melrose City Council met in a Regular Meeting on Thursday, December 14, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. at the Melrose City Center pursuant to due notice being given thereof. Present were Council Members Tony Klasen, Josh Thieschafer, Dick Christenson, Justin Frieler, and Mayor Joe Finken, Finance Director Tessa Beuning, and City Clerk Patti Haase. City Administrator Michael Brethorst was absent. Mayor Finken presided thereat.
The Council then recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
A motion was made by Mr. Thieschafer, seconded by Mr. Frieler and unanimously carried to approve the agenda as amended.
Mayor Finken then opened the floor to public comment. There were no comments.
Approval of the following:
a. The minutes from the Council’s November 16 Regular Meeting and the November 28 Special Meeting.
b. List of bills in the amount of $220,185.84.
c. List of investments for the month of November.
d. The Council to give consideration to approval of the following tobacco licenses: 1. Coborn’s Inc. – Coborn’s Store; 2. Melrose 1 Stop; 3. Casey’s General Store #2650; 4. SPIRITZ Liquor, Inc.; 5. Coborn’s Inc. – Coborn’s Liquor; 6. Dollar General; 7. Casey’s General Store #3657.
Minnesota law requires cities to obtain proof that all license holders provide workers’ comp insurance for their employees. Also, the City must obtain licensees’ social security numbers, and Minnesota and federal tax identification numbers for the Department of Revenue’s use.
Approval of license is contingent upon staff receiving the signed application, all required documentation and the $75 license fee. The licenses are effective January 1, 2018.
e. Donation Resolution
1) Resolution No. 2017-70, donation in the amount of $5,000 from Bueckers Environmental Services Inc. towards the City of Melrose General Fund. As per the direction of the donor, Ervin Bueckers, the Mayor to make a recommendation as to the allocation of the funds.
2) Resolution No. 2017-71, donation in the amount of $500 from Stearns Electric Association Round-Up Program towards the Tri-Cap bus service.
3) Resolution No. 2017-72, donation in the amount of $620 from the New Munich Jaycees to the Melrose Fire Department.
A motion was made by Mr. Klasen, seconded by Mr. Frieler and unanimously carried to approve the Consent Agenda items.
Police Chief Maus presented the Police Department’s November report. He noted there were 275 calls for service during that month, compared to 270 for November 2016. The year-to-date number of calls is 3,218 compared to 3,692 in 2016. A total of 15 citations were written for the month of November. The Department also received 33 agency assist calls. Police Chief Maus reminded everyone that with winter driving conditions, everyone needs to slow down and leave ample space between vehicles.
City Attorney Scott Dymoke reported on projects he has been working on for the City:
• Charter Headend Lease Agreement: Worked with City staff on preparing amendments to the Headend Lease Agreement with Charter Communications.
• Lewis Nuisance: Filed Council abatement order and supporting documents with Court Administrator. Scheduled motion hearing and filed motion for court order enforcing Council’s abatement order.
Community Development Director Mike Creelman reported on the Planning and Zoning Commission’s December 4 meeting. Mr. Creelman noted that the Commission reviewed the Portable Storage Ordinance and discussed the ordinance as it pertains to the commercial and industrial districts. The Commission also discussed amending the non-conforming use ordinances to comply with State Statutes. The Commission also discussed the Stearns County Zoning Amendment allowing light industrial in agricultural zones by the conditional use permit process. Mr. Creelman stated that Stearns County, in conjunction with Centracare, has contacted the City and the Melrose Area School District regarding interest in establishing a sidewalk and trail master plan. A meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 from noon to 3:00 p.m. at the Melrose City Center.
The Council held a public hearing on the 2018 Budget and Tax Levy. The public hearing is to allow public comment and questions. Finance Director Beuning provided the Truth in Taxation presentation.
At the September 21 meeting, the Council first reviewed the proposed 2018 Budget. The preliminary property tax levied to the County at that time was:
General property tax: $975,000
2008 Fire and Ambulance Station Lease Revenue Bonds: $110,000
2011A GO Refunding Bonds: $340,000
Total Levy: $1,425,000
Since that time, the Council and staff have reviewed the budget to determine where cuts could be made or revenues increased to reduce the property tax levy and arrive at a more balanced budget. Based on those meetings and the cuts proposed, the general levy is proposed to be reduced to $1,390,000, which is $5,000 more than the final 2017 levy of $1,385,000. This increase is due to an increase in debt payments. According to the information received from the County, the proposed tax capacity for the City is estimated at $2,022,710. This will result in an estimated tax capacity rate of 68.72%, which is a slight decrease from 2017. The 2017 tax rate was 70.93%, resulting in a tax capacity rate decrease of 2.21% from 2016.
According to law, the City now must certify the levy as set in September or it may reduce the levy. It cannot set a levy higher than the proposed levy, which was certified with the County Auditor in September. The proposed general levy of $940,000 plus debt levy of $450,000 results in a total levy of $1,390,000.
General property tax: $940,000
2008 Fire and Ambulance Station Lease Revenue Bonds: $110,000
2011A GO Refunding Bonds: $340,000
Total Levy: $1,390,000
The budget and levy to be adopted at the hearing to meet the State law requirements. After the final levies are adopted, they must be certified with the County Auditor prior to December 31.
Mr. Klasen introduced Resolution No. No. 2017-73, Resolution Adopting the Tax Levy and 2018 Budget / 2018-2022 Five Year Capital Improvement Plan (See attached resolution.) The motion was seconded by Mr. Christenson with a roll call vote recorded as follows: For: Council Members Klasen, Christenson, Frieler, Thieschafer, and Mayor Finken; Against: None.
Minnesota Statutes, Section 462.356, Subd. 2, which requires that the City’s proposed real property acquisitions and dispositions be reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission for compliance with the Comprehensive Plan, also applies to the City’s proposed Capital Improvements. In conformance with this requirement, the Planning and Zoning Commission, at its November 7 meeting, reviewed for written comment to the Council the compliance with the Comprehensive Plan of the proposed 2018 non-equipment related expenditures contained in the Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan and Levy Information Years 2018-2022. For reference and comparison, present Year 2017 was also included in the Commission’s review. The Commission determined that the proposed non-equipment related expenditures proposed for Years 2018 is in compliance with the City’s Comprehensive Plan and authorized the Chair’s execution of correspondence to the Council evidencing its findings. A motion was then made by Mr. Thieschafer, seconded by Mr. Frieler and unanimously carried to adopt the 2018-2022 Five Year Capital Improvement Plan.
There being no other input at the public hearing, the hearing was closed at 6:25 p.m.
Mayor Finken stated that the Council and Commission work jointly to adopt policies that are uniform across both fully integrated agencies; however, each need to have their own policy and adopt them. The Council reviewed the updated Personnel Policies with red-line that shows the proposed Personnel Policies that are nested with the various Collective Bargaining Agreements. Plus, there were edits to reflect actions taken by the Council / Commission that make certain sections obsolete.
Once adopted, all employees are given a copy and expected to read and understand the policy. They sign receipt of the document.
A motion was made by Mr. Frieler, seconded by Mr. Thieschafer and unanimously carried adopting the Personnel Policies as presented.
Mayor Finken noted that the City and Utility have converted from a Major Medical Insurance Plan to a High Deductible Plan. It is also converting to a Health Savings Account (HSA) and limited Flexible Benefit Cafeteria Plan. In accordance with IRS rules and Statutory compliance, the City and Utility must update its Flex Benefit Policy. The policy in place was originally adopted in 2003. The new policy will replace in whole the 2003 policy and bring the City into compliance.
A motion was made by Mr. Christenson, seconded by Mr. Klasen and unanimously carried adopting the Flex Benefit Policy as presented.
Finance Director Beuning noted that the State of Minnesota sponsors a deferred compensation post-employment Health Care Savings Plan (HCSP) for municipal employees. These funds are paid for with employees’ wages. It is a non-voluntary program for employee groups; however, the practice has been for the employee groups to establish the employee contribution based on years of public service. The City has four groups. A motion was made by Mr. Thieschafer, seconded by Mr. Frieler and unanimously carried approving the revisions to the Health Care Savings Plan (HCSP) employee contribution and authorization for staff to submit to the Minnesota HCSP with an effective date of January 1, 2018.
Mayor Finken stated that the 5th Street NW (Molly Hill) road project has been planned for a traditional mill and over lay for 2018. In preparation for this, soil borings were conducted. It was determined after the soil borings that the base material is not conducive to sustaining a mill and overlay project. The soil conditions show saturated soils, stumps and other miscellaneous materials that are causing the road to deteriorate at a faster than normal rate.
It is proposed to table the Molly’s Hill project until after the bridge project is complete. The City does this as the road warrants consideration for total reconstruction. If the road is showing excessive wear in 2018, it is proposed to consider a seal coat project to get another 5-7 years of life out of the road. This would be determined at the 2018 freeze-thaw cycle and after we know when the 5th Ave NE Bridge project will be completed.
Mayor Finken noted that the Stearns County Parks Board has been approached by the Trisko Family to sell their land that is adjacent to the City limits and convert it into a County Park. The County has stated that they are not in a position to acquire additional park space. The County has asked the City to explore this option. A review of the City’s Comprehensive Plan shows a future need for park space in the northwest side of the City; however, it does not call out this land as the specific space.
A motion was made by Mr. Christenson, seconded by Mr. Frieler and unanimously carried directing the Parks and Recreation Board and the Planning and Zoning Commission to explore the option of acquiring the Trisko property for additional park space.
Mayor Finken noted that all work on the 3rd Street project is now completed including the affidavits and releases. A copy of the two-year warranty is also on file. WSB has reviewed the pay application request and is recommending payment in the amount of $8,698.09. This will close out the project.
A motion was made by Mr. Thieschafer, seconded by Mr. Christenson and unanimously carried approving the final payment in the amount of $8,698.09.
Mayor Finken stated that after the wind storm of September 2017, the City opened the Industrial Park to allow Melrose residents to dispose of damaged trees. This was an exception to previous policy of not sponsoring a brush disposal site managed by the City. The City does not host a disposal site due to liability and staffing to monitor the site and keep it free and clear of non-trees / brush. Residents can bundle branches and place them at the end of their driveways. They are also allowed to bring their brush to Bueckers Sanitation / Waste Management in Sauk Centre. Options have been looked at to burn the pile of trees. After consulting with the Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief, it is determined that burning the pile is not an option due to its size and the amount of time the controlled burn would take. Streets/Parks Supervisor Middendorf is actively seeking quotes to clean the site. The clean-up will need to be completed by February 28 as the FibroWatt plant will be closing. There are no tree businesses that will take the pile for free as it is in a pile versus standing trees. Two quotes have been received as December 7 in the amount of $16,700 and $37,800. An additional quote was received from Carr Tree Service for a total of $6,500.
A motion was made Mr. Klasen, seconded by Mr. Thieschafer and unanimously carried awarding the clean-up to the low bidder, Carr Tree Service, in the amount of $6,500 contingent upon ensuring the site is completely cleaned up.
Finance Director Beuning stated that a review of room rental fees has been conducted and it was determined that Melrose is significantly under the going rate which averages $75 and $100 a day; therefore, it is recommended to amend the fee schedule to reflect no subsidized rates as well as the current practices. It is proposed to implement a new $100 security/damage deposit. This is currently not in policy, but it is recommended as we have seen an increase in spills and damage to table and chairs.
Administration Fee 2017 2018 2019 2020
Meeting Room B – full day 5 to 12 hours
$40 $65 $85 $100
Meeting Room B – 1/2 day 0 to 4 hours
$40 $45 $50 $50
Meeting Room C – full day 5 to 12 hours
$40 $65 $85 $100
Meeting Room C – 1/2 day 0 to 4 hours
$40 $45 $50 $50
Meeting Room (small) 5 to 12 hours
$20 $25 $30 $30
Meeting Room (small) 0 to 4 hours
$20 $20 $20 $25
Room Rental – security / damage deposit (all rooms) if two rooms are rented it is $200, etc.
$0 $100 $100 $100
Long Term Rentals (5 or more in a month): City Administrator can negotiate rental rate
$40 TBD TBD TBD
Governmental / Non-Profits
$0 $0 $0 $0
Governmental / Non-Profits Security / Damage Deposit $0 $100 $100 $100
If the Council approves this change, an updated fee ordinance will be prepared for the January 2018 Council meeting, plus a policy will be developed to outline the various security / damage deposit and general utilization.
A motion was made by Mr. Klasen, seconded by Mr. Thieschafer and unanimously carried approving the room rental fee as stated.
Mayor Finken stated that the City has received the invoice from Stearns County for police services provided under contract. The invoice is in the amount of $48,180 for 876 hours of service A motion was made by Mr. Thieschafer, seconded by Mr. Frieler and unanimously carried approving payment in the amount of $48,180.
Mayor Finken stated that in 2015, the Council commissioned a feasibility study for the 1st Street NE / Bakery Alley project. The data is now about three years old, plus the feasibility study was done prior to the 2016 downtown fire. WSB has prepared a quote for updating the feasibility study and to make modifications with the additional information relating to the 400 Block. This cost is $2,500 to update the feasibility study and concepts. Another option is for the final design and specifications for the 1st Street NE Project. This would get the project designed and final specifications ready. This would be nested with the 5th Ave NE Bridge project and channel realignment. The cost for this is to conduct the work identified on an hourly basis with a not-to-exceed fee of $72,000 for final design, specifications, and bidding for the proposed reconstruction project. The items that are proposed include modifying the sidewalk on the north side of 1st Street NE versus on both sides. It also includes costs for paving, creating a parking lot on the west side of the City Center that is currently gravel. By paving the west parking lot, the City would be complying with its own policy of improved service. The paving of the parking lot can be removed if desired. WSB has prepared a rough concept sketch of all the approved / planned improvements. WSB is preparing a more professional cartoon sketch that can be used in the various grant and petitions that will be presented in the coming months. A motion was made by Mr. Thieschafer, seconded by Mr. Klasen and unanimously carried rejecting WSB & Associates proposal to update the feasibility study A motion was then made by Mr. Klasen, seconded by Mr. Thieschafer and unanimously carried authorizing WSB & Associates to initiate plans and specifications for the 1st Street NE Project / Bakery Alley / parking lots.
Mayor Finken stated that about three years ago, City Administrator Brethorst was elected to serve on the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) Board of Directors, which was supported by both the Utilities Commission and Council. Mr. Brethorst sat on the Board for only one meeting and had to step down due to his 90-day military deployment. The LMC is currently seeking applicants to fill a position on their Insurance Trust Board that covers the General Liability and Works Comp. This summer and spring, they will be seeking applicants to serve on the LMC Board of Directors as well. City Administrator Brethorst would like to submit his name for consideration; however, he will not submit unless he is endorsed by both the Council and Utilities Commission. The time commitment is one meeting a month and a retreat the same time the LMC Board meets, which is during the LMC Annual Conference, which Administrator Brethorst already attends. If Administrator Brethorst does not apply, he would encourage one Council member to submit their name for consideration to apply for the Board position; however, Melrose being who we are and who we represent would fare well in an application process. The Utilities Commission, at its December 11 meeting, made the determination that due to the City’s numerous on-going projects, they would not endorse the City Administrator applying for the LMC Board position at this time. The Council concurred with the Utilities Commission.
The following informational items were reviewed:
At the Council’s first meeting in January 2018, consideration will be given to making appointments to the various boards and commissions. Terms are expiring on the following boards and commissions:
• Planning and Zoning Commission, two members (four-year term). Terms expiring: Mike Klaphake and Adam Paulson. Both Commission Members are seeking reappointment.
• Utilities Commission’s November 13 Regular Meeting minutes.
On December 1, Streets/Parks Maintenance Worker Romie Bertram received his 25-year recognition award of $100 as outlined in City Personnel Policy – Employee Recognition Program. Mr. Bertram was commended for his years of service.
The following is a list of schools and/or conferences where registrations were made:
1. Compliance with FLSA Overtime Laws – December 8, 2017. Webinar participant: Office Assistant Doris Rieland.
A motion was made by Mr. Thieschafer, seconded by Mr. Frieler and unanimously carried that the meeting be adjourned at 7:00 p.m.
Patricia Haase, City Clerk