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Crosslake Council Approves Road Assessments

Web posted June 21, 2022
The Crosslake City Council approved the 2022 Road Projects assessment by a 4-0 vote at their regular monthly meeting held June 13th.

City Administrator Mike Lyonais told council that before bonds could be issued for the road projects, that council need to make a decision whether or not there would be assessments for benefitting property owners.

Following a lengthy discussion, the council ultimately approved an assessment of $4,000 for benefitting properties. Council member Dave Schrupp abstained from the vote as he lives on one of the roads being worked on.

A few residents addressed their concerns to council disagreeing with assessing.

Steve Johnston told council that his $4,000 would not get recovered if he sold his property. “When a road wears out, it should be replaced.”

Doug Haynes, agreed with Johnston and said to take the projects and levy over the whole city, that there is no financial benefit for him personally adding that "you can’t do one thing for one group and not do for another.”

Tom Swenson of the Public Works Commission stated that the majority of the cost for road projects are covered by the entire tax base as assessments are only required to cover 20 percent of the total cost for bonding.

Assessment discussion included a June 8, 2022 letter to council from the Public Works Department regarding last month’s decision by council not to assess benefitting property owners for the CSAH 66 Sewer Extension Project.

The letter states, “A motion was made by Tom Swenson and seconded by Gordy Wagner to express to the City Council the Commission’s concern with the recent action of 3 Council Members that chose to ignore the adopted Assessment Policy and not assess benefiting properties on the County Road 66 Sewer Extension Project. Will the Council now abate and refund the sewer assessment imposed on the property that was assessed for sewer benefits on Daggett Bay Road and what will be the policy for the properties along Norway Trail and Brook Street that are interested in connecting to City sewer? Of equal concern is the precedent not following the Assessment Policy could have on assessing benefiting properties for road improvements. The City is responsible for maintaining approximately 60 miles of roads and will be required to spend massive dollars on maintenance, overlays and reconstruction as these roads reach the end of their useful life. Assessing properties which benefit from public improvements is a common city practice and helps reduce the tax burden on the rest of the city taxpayers. Ayes: Tom Swenson, Tim Berg, Gordy Wagner, Mic Tchida. Nay: Bob Frey.

“A lengthy discussion ensued regarding the amount of time and years that the Commission spent working on a policy and the disappointment the Commission felt that the policy was ignored. The Commission questioned why there is a commission and why they make recommendations to the Council if they aren’t listened to.

“Dave Nevin stated that the sewer assessment policy was not fair and he does not regret his vote to not assess. The Commission asked how the Council will move forward with road assessments. Char Nelson stated that she has received calls from property owners on every road that is being reconstructed saying they will not pay an assessment. The Mayor stated that the plan is to continue to assessing for road projects.”

Council member Marcia Seibert-Volz stated “We shot ourselves in the foot” by not following the assessment policy for the sewer project. “We didn’t follow a policy we approved.”

Council member Aaron Herzog added, “We put some good people through a lot to come up with a policy that we voted to approve, then we turned around and slapped them in the face.”

Regarding potential road assessment appeals, City Attorney Brad Person said, “One part [of that] is legal, one is political. The law has not changed, assessment laws have been around forever. Politically is a different matter, but that’s not a legal analysis. The court won’t care what you did with the sewer.”

New playground equipment update
Alden Hardwick of the Parks and Library Foundation reported to council the the new playground equipment installation was complete. The work was done by a volunteer crew and staff.

Hardwick thanked the committee and volunteers for their efforts, calling the project’s  completion, “a special time”.

He told council that the Dietz Memorial obstacle course opening ceremony was held Sunday, June 12th with around 75 people attending. The Dietz family children donated around $80,000 for the course in honor of their mother Mary Lu.

Hardwick credited the council for their agreement and positivity throughout the project. He added that money came in from several community organizations, including the Christmas for Kids fund, and the Crosslake-Ideal Lions, and that almost all the funds that were advanced are now recovered.

He estimated the project’s total cost was around $250,000.

Crosslake Carwash Connection Fee
• The Public Works Department recommended to council that there should be an additional connection charge for the Crosslake Carwash owned by Scott and Nicole Siemers, located on County Road 3 behind Town Square.

The memo states that in October of 2017, the Siemers’ paid $6,500 for their connection fee and as part of the permit process, the carwash outflow was to be monitored, and if any outflow exceeded 8,000 gallons, an additional connection fee of $6,500 would be required.

The memo included that there was no communication between the Planning & Zoning and Sewer Departments, therefore, no monitoring took place.

The issue was raised when Seibert-Volz asked how the Siemers’ carwash connection fees were calculated at a recent council meeting.

Staff then pulled the paperwork and found the note regarding the monitoring of usage. It was determined that since the Carwash was connected in 2018, it has used 8,000 gallons approximately fifty percent of the time.

Scott Siemers addressed council and contested the agreement, stating his copy of the agreement does not include any language for monitoring or an additional or future connection charge.

Council tabled the item until the next meeting to have time to review the documentation.

• Council approved a recommendation from the Public Works Commission to amend the connection charges after one year of monitoring outflow for Moonlite Bay, Moonlite Square and Moonlite Carwash.

The decision will allow the City Engineer to give his best estimate of connection charge for Moonlite Bay, Moonlite Square and Moonlite Carwash. The businesses will pay that estimate at the time of connection at the time of hookup and the City will revisit the amount of connection fee after the businesses have been connected for a period of one year and will reconcile the  difference up or down depending on the highest month’s flow.

Public Safety
• Council heard an update from Police Chief Erik Lee on the recently approved purchase of speed humps to be used for the construction detours for CSAH 66.

Lee told council the equipment had been received but came in sections of approximately 18 inches. Each section requires large lag bolts and while they could be used for other purposes, there isn’t enough time required for installation.

Council motioned to have Lee work with Park and Recreation Director TJ Graumann to determine if any could be used at the Community Center parking lot, which Graumann said has issues with high speeds and wrong way traffic.

• Council again gave their support for a Sourcewell grant for Lexipol that will update Crosslake Police policy manual and will align the policies with several other area departments.

Lee told council this will cost the City nothing for 2022 and 2023, and if the city would like to continue in 2024, it can be decided then. He added that the current Crosslake Police policy manual was last updated in 2012 and that Lexipol policies are better by a legal team and as laws change, the policies will too.

Crosslake is one of six area departments participating and Lee stated that the program also includes daily training for officers.

• Crosslake Police Department reported 275 incidents in May including 83 traffic warnings, 35 EMS, and 18 alarms. For Mission TWP, Crosslake PD reported 71 incidents including 43 traffic stops and 14 traffic citations.

• Crosslake Fire reported 45 calls for May including 31 EMS, six good intent calls and three hazardous condition calls.

• North Ambulance reported 75 callouts for May.

In council action:
• Accepted two Thank You notes from Log Church members for waiving the sewer assessment;

• Accepted three donations: $5,000 from Mike and Kelly Haglund for the Crosslake Police Department; $2,664 from the PAL Foundation for benches; and $79.98 from an anonymous donor for the Community Center gardens;

• Accepted the resignation of Planning and Zoning commissioner Rady Dymoke. Council appointed alternate Kris Graham to fill the vacancy. Joel Knippel will remain as the other alternate;

• Abolished the Personnel Committee;

• Announced the hiring of Patrick Wehner as the new Public Works Director, who will start July 5th with the city. It was noted that he is currently overseeing two sewer plant operations in Blooming Prairie, MN, and is also a Master electrician;

• Set three budget workshops, July 11th, August 8th and September 12th;

• Approved the Antler Business Park Final Plat, Butterfield Enterprises. The property is 3 acres and will be subdivided into 18 new parcels. Park dedication fees will total $27,000;

• Approved a staff recommendation for a variance for a memorial bench at Pinewood Cemetery by a 4-1 vote (voting no Schrupp);

• Approved a Public Works Department recommendation to replace the steel wash bay columns at the Joint Maintenance Facility in the amount of $16,618. Hytec Construction will perform the work;

• Approved a Change Order for Birch Narrows Road due to subgrade issues on the road in the amount of $19,106.07;

• Approved pay application 1 from Anderson Brothers Construction for the 2022 Road improvements in the amount of $285,704.14;

• Approved pay application 1 from Caspar Construction for the Sewer Extension Project in the amount of $154,060.73.

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