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Emily City Council

Web posted December 3, 2019
(Editor’s note: The following article was written from the unapproved minutes of the regular monthly meeting of the Emily City Council held Tuesday, November 12 as provided by the City Clerk/Treasurer.)

The Emily City Council held their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 and was called to order by Mayor Lund at 6:05 p.m. Councilmembers Bryce Butcher, Wesley Friesner, Gerhart Hanson, and Bill Spiess were present. Also present was Cari Johnson, City Clerk/Treasurer.

Clerk Johnson gave the Treasurer’s Report. Council approved the consent agenda included meeting minutes of the October 8, 2019 regular council meeting, the August 19, 2019 and September 16, 2019 special council meetings, the October 2019 financial report, and claims totaling $129,092.17.

Speakers

Ben Wikstrom attended the meeting to present the Downtown Development Plan. He stated the Downtown Development Plan (DDP) was years in the making so it has changed over time.

The original scope of the plan was ideas for improvement of the downtown mixed use area, including a focus on the State Highway 6 road reconstruction project, the intersection of State Highway 6 and County Road 1, a more pedestrian friendly downtown, ATV parking, etc.

Wikstrom stated the original focus projects were either completed or were no longer planned, and that the DDP evolved into a more instructive plan than a plan detailing ideas. The plan became more expansive, including recommended updates to redefine the limits of the downtown mixed use and industrial park areas, connecting the City Parks with a trail system, and suggested architectural guidelines.

Wikstrom explained that he worked with a partner with experience working with small rural cities and also with a Northland Securities representative on the implementation section. He told council the plan does not need to be adopted unless the Economic Development Authority (EDA) would need to apply for grant funding to complete a project included in the DDP. The EDA would make recommendations to the Council for projects to be completed with a recommended budget based on the DDP. The DDP is to be used as an instructional guide with suggestions. The City may have an opportunity to use some parts of the plan, but is not forced to implement the plan.

Wikstrom told council that he did not copyright the plan and added he would accept sections of it being referenced in the Comprehensive Plan if the DDP is referenced as the source, Wikstrom is listed as the author, and any referenced sections are included in their entirety and not modified. He said that the DDP is owned by the City, but he retains proprietary rights, and offered assistance if Sourcewell requests to use sections of the DDP during the revision of the Comprehensive Plan.

The Downtown Development Plan would need to be adopted by the EDA to request grant funding to complete a project included in the plan. The Council will review the plan and determine what projects may be feasible.

Public Safety

Fire Dept.: Council Liaison Butcher reported 15 members at the last meeting and 2 fire calls for October. The City of Fifty Lakes and Crooked Lake Township also participated in the Trunk or Treat event, which was reported to be a success. The donated hay ride trailer worked very well and the Council thanked the anonymous donor.

The Council had requested research on charging for fire calls. There was a concern that citizens may not call for a fire if there were a charge. Property taxes help pay for the Emily Volunteer Fire Department. The Council decided not to charge for fire calls.

Council approved hiring Michael Armbrust as a firefighter pending preemployment screening and testing. Council also approved replacement of two outdoor lights are the Fire Hall in the amount of $1,056.00 and accepted a donation in the amount of $750 from the Emily Fireman’s Relief Association for equipment.

First Responders: Chief Werner reported 8 calls with 7 medicals and 1 fire.

The Fire and First Responder Chiefs and Council liaisons will meet to discuss the pros and cons of combining the Emily Fire Department and First Responder Units.

The First Responder rig light bar will be inspected to determine whether the rig needs to be brought to a shop for repair.

Chief Werner requested the First Responders be included in Fire Department trainings. Liaison Butcher will inform Werner about future trainings.

Police: Mayor Lund reported 49 ICRs for the month of October 2019.

Council approved promoting Michael Davis from a part-time to full-time police officer at a wage of $20 per hour with a possible future wage increase every three years from the Personnel Committee to coincide with union contracts negotiations. An additional motion passed, approving the Personnel Committee to negotiate with Davis for a pay increase on January 1, 2021.

Police Chief Herold requested changing the retirement contributions of the department’s Police Officers from the Coordinated Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) Plan with an employer contribution of 7.5% to the Police and Fire PERA Plan with an employer contribution of 16.95% as a benefit for the parttime police officers.

Council adopted resolutions to change the following police office contributions from the coordinated PERA plan to the the Fire and Police PERA plan. Officers included Michael Davis, Damien Stalker, Khang Nguyen, Alan Booth and Robert Depaoli.

The first payroll deduction for the Police and Fire PERA retirement contributions will be included in the November 13 payroll.

WASTEWATER
Council adopted a resolution to certify unpaid sewer taxes as an assessment to property taxes for three delinquent properties in the total amount of $1,940.55.

PLANNING & ZONING:
Sourcewell is restructuring their Planning and Zoning Specialist coverage and Justin Burslie will be replacing Darrin Welle as the City’s Planning and Zoning Administrator effective December 2, 2019.

Council approved the Sourcewell Addendum #1 Joint Powers Agreement to the Planning and Zoning Shared Services contract.

Revisions are needed to the City’s SSTS Inspection Program to comply with MPCA requirements. Council had approved a proposal for A&J Inspecting Services to provide SSTS inspection services for 2020, but learned a contract is needed.

The City is accepting applications for Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee members.

City Attorney
Research was completed on allowable public purpose expenditures regarding donations. The State Auditor’s Office stated voluntary contributions to the City become public funds and should be spent by the City on authorized City expenditures. A City can accept donor terms, but such terms must be consistent with a city’s authority to spend money. The State Auditor’s Office stated they are not aware of any authority that would permit a City to donate City funds to outside groups absent express statutory authority or of any authority for a City to act as a “pass through” for donations that are not otherwise authorized expenditures for a City. The City Attorney determined the following are not public purpose expenditures: advertising and promotion costs for a craft sale, purchase of a new furnace for the Snowbirds Snowmobile Club building, fee for City Hall rental for a City police officer to attend a craft sale because alcohol is being served, and food for a children’s Christmas party.

The City can only accept donations for allowable public purpose expenditures. A resolution cannot be adopted for donations that are not allowable public purpose expenditures. Allowable donations include funds for First Responder and Fire Department equipment and fireworks. The City Attorney determined City streetlight Christmas decorations would also be a public purpose expenditure. The City must determine allowable public purpose expenditures on a case by case basis.

Roads
The Snow Control Agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) was discussed and approved, backdated to October 30, 2019, as presented.

MnDOT is responsible for plowing snow in the parking lanes of State Highway 6, but if MnDOT is unable to plow in a timely manner the City may request prior approval to remove the snow. After approval MnDOT will reimburse the City for the hourly use of snow removal equipment, except a dump truck, and the operator’s wage.

Maintenance Shop

Nor-Son Construction installed snow blocks on the Maintenance Shop roof as a requirement of the Phase 1 project dispute resolution.

Ventilation of the Maintenance Shop attic will be monitored over the winter and Nor-Son Construction will install additional ventilation in the spring if required by the City. The attic is vented by a ridge vent for the three attic sections with ventilation fans on the east and west ends of the building. There is also a small vent on the west side of the middle attic section.

Council approved paying the Nor-Son Construction Final Phase 1 Billing for Change Order #2, for the change in the overhead garage door size in the amount of $4,176.80.

The Phase 1 Nor-Son Construction total for the Maintenance Shop project is currently $439,596.59, the Phase 1 total including construction, well, septic system, etc. is $467,791.37. The total remaining Maintenance shop funds for 2019 are $4,044.19.

Phase 2 is estimated to be $219,268 and would include a design before construction and on-site supervision.

Council motioned to approve NOR-SON Construction Phase 2 Scope and cost estimate in the amount of$219,268. Council then approved the motion following council member Spiess’s amended to remove Alternate #1 for the Police department wall for $3,750, fire extinguishers for $402, and tv outlet for $250 a total of $4,402.

Discussion included the fire extinguishers were removed because they have already been installed and the City will request estimates from licensed contractors for construction of the Police Department wall.

The Phase 2 project needs to start as soon as possible to provide heat to the shop. Ferrellgas has been contacted to install the propane tank and piping in 2019. Grading is needed on the east side of the building, and Moritz Excavating will be requested to add Class 5 to provide access to the east side of the building.

Council approved the wiring and installation of two combination Exit/emergency lights in the maintenance shop for $925, and, payment to Moritz Excavating for the installation of the septic system and oil separator tank in the amount of $6,950.

Cemetery
Council Liaison Friesner reported four burials. Council requested a presentation of the new Cemetery Banyon program.

Council approved a motion to have Lambert Water Wells remove and seal the well in the cemetery for $600. Maintenance personnel will fill the well pit.

Three cemetery plots were transferred for Cy and Nancy Kruse from one lot to another with no transfer fee due to alleged encroachment of a burial on one of the plots. Council denied a request from the Kruse’s to purchase the fourth cemetery plot in the lot for $100 to avoid an encroachment situation in the future. Discussion included allowing a plot purchase at a reduced rate would set a precedent.

Parks
The Park Commission Chair requested Council approval for CEDA grant writing services. Additional research is needed to determine the estimated cost of CEDA grant writing services.

Personnel

Council approved a motion to approve the agreement to join an existing regional safety group under Region 5 to provide required employee OSHA trainings with costs paid by LMCIT and Sourcewell with a minimum of 6 meeting per year.

Council adopted a resolution authorizing membership in at the Cuyuna Range Regional Safety Group, allowing the city to join in a regional safety group.

PERA retirement contribution exclusion requirements for a seasonal employee are to work no more than a maximum of 185 days. If there is a 30 day or more break between seasonal positions, the seasonal employee would remain excluded from PERA retirement contributions. The City would be able to hire a prior seasonal maintenance employee as a winter seasonal employee with a break of 30 or more days between positions and the employee would remain excluded from PERA retirement contributions.

Council approved the hiring of up to two seasonal maintenance workers at $15 per hours.

Discussion included the position would reduce the amount of overtime required by the Maintenance personnel so would be within budget. The position would be on an intermittent or as needed basis.

Council approved the winter seasonal maintenance worker job description.

Approved setting the payroll date to the 10th of every month to comply with MN state statute.

Discussion included the Statute requiring payroll every 31 days for the Planning Commission, Park Commission, Economic Development Authority, and Economic Development Commission members and firefighters and first responders not agreeing to be paid at longer intervals.

The City is classified as a small employer so is not required to offer health care coverage when hiring a full-time employee. However, the City Attorney advised the City request signature of an Acknowledgement of No Health Care Coverage form as part of a new employee packet.

Council also proved the acknowledgement of no healthcare coverage form.

New Business
Council approved acceptance of donations from the Outing Area Chamber of Commerce in the amount of $9,000; $6,000 for the 2020 Emily Day fireworks, and $3,000 for Emily First Responders for equipment and training.

There was an update on the City’s Rental Dwelling License Program. On April 30, 2019 letters were mailed to 519 property owners with non-homestead status and a building to determine if they were renting their property and 80% responded by the May 31 deadline. A second letter was mailed on July 1, 2019 to the 104 remaining property owners and 46% of the second mailing responded by the August 1 deadline. There was no response from 22 (4%) of the non-homestead properties. As of November 1, 2019, 24 rental dwelling license applications have been received and licenses issued, 21 rental dwelling inspections have passed, and 3 rental dwelling inspections are pending. All licensed properties are either connected to City sewer or have a compliant SSTS system.

The City Inspector has issued Administrative Civil Penalties to nuisance properties and the unpaid Administrative Civil Penalties were approved by council to be assessed to the property taxes of each  identified property. The Clerk’s Office will mail a two weeks’ notice to the owner of each identified property with a deadline to pay the City for unpaid penalties by November 27, 2019. After the deadline the unpaid amounts will be certified to Crow Wing County for assessment to the property taxes of each identified property.

Council approved a motion to not waive the monetary limits on Municipal Tort Liability for the city’s LMCIT Property/Casualty insurance coverage. The Council reviewed the properties and equipment included in the LMCIT Property/Casualty Insurance renewal.

Council also approved the cyber security standard limit for the data security breach expenses limit for the city’s LMCIT Property/Casualty insurance coverage.

Crow Wing County proposed tax rates for 2020 calculate Emily’s tax rate at 37.22%. The 2019 tax rate for Emily was 41.457%.

Crow Wing County requested a decision regarding 2014 road improvement project assessments made to parcels that are not taxed and have no valid mailing addresses resulting in pending tax forfeit of the parcels. The parcels belong to the Blue Lake Association. One lot is a shared access for the association and the other lot is a nature preservation area for the association.

Council approved having the city clerk contact the Blue Lake Association to discuss repayment of the delinquent assessments on the shared parcels. If the Blue Lake Association does not repay the amounts to the city, including interest, the council directed Crow Wing County to assess the delinquent assessments owed to the city, including interest, to the shared parcels equally to all taxpaying lots in the plat.

Council denied a request Crow Wing County DWI Court and Crow Wing County Drug Court each requested 2020 fiscal support of $100, for a total of $200. The City Attorney reported the request for support does not pass the public purpose test.

Crow Wing Landfill accepts recycling for no charge and information on Crow Wing Landfill recycling will be added to the City’s website.

Correspondence

Emily Greens Golf Course sent correspondence regarding possible legislation eliminating the 3.2 liquor license category; David Eiler sent correspondence regarding the condition of Emerald Lane and requested road work in 2020; Crow Wing County sent correspondence regarding Land Use Ordinance revisions; and Crow Wing County Highway Department sent correspondence regarding a request for public comment on a Cost Participation Survey.

The Truth in Taxation Meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at 6 p.m. The next regular meeting of the Emily City Council will follow the Truth in Taxation meeting on December 10.

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