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Crosslake Council moves forward with next step on facility needs

Web posted March 12, 2019
By Paul Boblett, Editor

The Crosslake City Council unanimously (not present was council member Aaron Herzog) approved a Building Committee recommendation for a $4,500 site design, that will include schematic drawings, a floorplan and cost estimates for the existing City Hall and a potential new facility for the Crosslake Fire Department. The drawings will be prepared by engineering firm Widseth Smith Nolting (WSN).

Mike Angland, WSN design specialist, told council at their regular monthly meeting on February 25th that he has reviewed the two previous facility assessments, what those recommendations were, and met with the Building Committee on February 20, 2019, for a site walk through.

“There are certain scopes of work that can be done on site with your existing assets (City Hall) and there are some things that you can’t do,” said Angland, “and that relates to the Fire Department and their specific space needs.”

Angland told council that the next step should be a more detailed design that would look at City Hall to address administration and the police department and what could be done, including a secured entrance to allow for the proper processing for the police department, with administration, and then address the Fire Department needs off-site.

Angland told council one of the first things he asked the committee for was a project budget, which was in the $4-7 million range.

Angland added, “For the first time, this project would be able to work against a proposed budget.”

We’ll provide a speculative design and the associated costs, then present it to the Building Committee with a specific plan that they can communicate clearly with council and the Crosslake residents.

Discussion followed and several scenarios were presented ranging from a step by step major renovation over many years, to narrowing the focus of the project to minimal changes. However, council agreed that the drawings and detailed look at potential changes is the next logical step moving forward.

The schematic and floor plan designs will be presented to the Build Committee at their March 7 meeting and will be brought to council at their March 11 meeting.

Loon Center requests City to become Fiscal Agent
Leah Heggerston of the National Loon Center requested the City of Crosslake to become the fiscal agent for the Loon Center funding. If the city agrees, Heggerston said it would be responsible for several items including ensuring fiscal responsibility, accounting overseeing RFP bids, and procuring and monitoring contracts.

She told council the Mn DNR has requested a fiscal agent for the project mainly because the group does not have the expertise required for a high profile project like this, that is using MN Lottery monies.

There was a question regarding the amount of time needed by City staff as fiscal agent, and how that could affect their regular responsibilities.

Mike Lyonais, City Finance Director told council that the city would not be handling money or making any management decisions, what they’re looking for is an agency that can help with the oversight.

Council members Dave Schrupp and John Andrews told Heggerston that they don’t believe the city staff has the time to handle all the responsibilities laid out in the document she presented to council. The MN DNR provided that document as a basic definition of what a fiscal agent is, and what tasks they would be charged with.

Heggerston said the Loon Center has another option as fiscal agent in the Region Five organization. She told council that Region Five director Cheryl Hills said that Region Five could be considered an option with a narrower focus, but Heggerston said she would prefer the city be involved as they have worked together on other projects.

Heggerston said an attorney has been hired to prepare a memorandum of agreement to spell out all responsibilities, audits and risks.

City attorney Brad Person requested Heggerston bring to the council what the bare minimum would be regarding the city’s responsibility as the fiscal agent.

During the first Public Forum, several residents offered their opinion on the project, including resident and former Crosslake Mayor Darrell Swanson, who told council that he thought it was a good idea for the city to be involved. He suggested the city taking a fee for acting as fiscal agent, which Heggerston had suggested to council as a way to offset any additional duties provided by city staff.

Resident Mark Wessels spoke to the increased traffic that the center could bring. He suggested what Mark Hall from Crow Wing County Highway department had mentioned to him, “be proactive, not reactive”.

Ted Strand, Public Works Director for Crosslake, told council that the traffic conversations have already begun with the county. Strand said the current plan is for a roundabout at the intersection of CR 3 and CR 66. Mayor Nevin requested someone from the County Highway Department to attend and present some information for the public at the next council meeting.

Heggerston told council that a study was done by Blue Zones 2-3 years ago, she said there is growth coming, and there may be some cost sharing possibilities. She said there has been a lot of work done already.

No action was taken at the meeting and Heggerston will return to council with more information.

The Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) recommended $4 million in funding for a National Loon Center in 2018. That funding still needs to be voted on by the MN legislature and then signed by Governor Walz.

City to review available properties, possible sales tax
Council approved a request by Mayor Nevin for city stay staff to look at some available properties within the city for the expansion of city facilities.

The council can then weigh the benefits of the individual properties. Nevin asked Lyonais and Person to come back to the council with possible scenarios.

Nevin then requested a group or committee to look into the potential benefits for the city to implement a sales tax. A committee could advise how best to proceed and look at different options for the city.

Council agreed that it was worth looking into, including a possible combination of an increase to property taxes and sales tax.

For a sales tax to be implemented, it would take a referendum by the resident voters, the earliest being the 2020 general election. Person and Lyonais reminded council that the state legislature would still have to vote on it if the voters of Crosslake vote in favor of it.

Staff would help narrow the focus but is not responsible where those tax dollars would be spent, that is a policy issue for the council to decide.

At the meeting, several individuals offered to be on the committee, including former mayor Swanson and Crosslake Chamber Director Cindy Myogeto.

Ultimately the council ended up directing Lyonais to put together a projected timeline and process for the city adopting a sales tax.

Public Works
Council unanimously approved a $3,900 proposal from Nagell Appraisal & Consulting to assist the City for guidance in determining special assessments. The cost of the study covers 3 areas in the city; Big Pine Trail (roadwork), East Shore Road and Park Drive (road and possibly sanitary sewer extension) and CSAH 66 up to Moonlite Square (sanitary sewer extension). Strand told council that the study will give them more confidence as they work on the assessment policy.

Public Safety
Crosslake Police responded to 155 calls in Crosslake for the month of January and 46 in Mission TWP. Crosslake Fire had 31 calls for service in January, and North Ambulance had a total of 68 callouts for service in January.

In other council items:
• Approved a Personnel Committee recommendation for pay raises for Sergeant Eric Swanson, Fire Chief Chip Lohmiller, and non-union department heads, retroactive to January 1, 2019.

• Removed ordinance language allowing the use golf carts on Crosslake streets.

• Updated the City Snowplowing Policy to include language stating the City will only replace mailboxes and posts that are in compliance with U.S. Postal regulations and on a swing away post. Damage to any other type of mailbox is not the responsibility of the City and will not be replaced.

• Changed the hours of operation for the Crosslake Community Center. The Center will be open Monday through Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday hours will remain the same at 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m..

• Heard an update from Crosslake Chamber Director Myogeto on the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration preparations. She thanked the Crosslake Public Works Department and Crow Wing County Highway Department for their efforts on removing snow.

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