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Emily Council Rescinds Role in Local Road Dispute

Web posted June 11, 2019
By Bill Monroe, Northland Press Correspondent

(Editor’s Note: The following article was written from the unapproved minutes of a meeting of the Emily City Council held on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 as provided by the city clerk.)

The Emily City Council rescinded its role in settling a local roads dispute when it met in regular session Tuesday, May 14. Members present included Mayor Roger Lund and councilmembers Bryce Butcher, Wesley Friesner, Gerhart Hanson and Bill Spiess. Also present were City Attorney Tom Pearson, City Clerk and Treasurer Cari Johnson and Deputy Clerk Pam Roden.

At the April council meeting the council decided to work on mediation between local business owners and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) regarding unresolved issues after the State Highway 6 Reconstruction Project. Since then, Emily Meats’ refrigeration claim has been settled by Anderson Brothers, MnDOT plans to address the flooding issue east of the Log Cabin Bar with installation of a drain to the storm sewer system, and MnDOT is investigating additional water drainage issues. Given the progress that has been made, the council voted to rescind its prior decision to take an active role in the discussion between local business owners and MnDOT regarding the issue.

After the April meeting the clerk researched options for mediation. The Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution is a state agency that mediates between other state agencies and local units of government and is assisting by providing mediation services between the city and MnDOT. The city will continue to support local business owners and monitor resolution of the project issues but will no longer take an active role in the dispute resolution.

MnDOT had completed a safety study which supported its installation of bollards at the State Highway 6 and County Road 1 intersection so the bollards will remain. Progress with resolution of city issues includes the city is planning to construct a sidewalk between the public parking lot and the State Highway 6 and County Road 1 crosswalks and has purchased and installed pedestrian crosswalk signs at the State Highway 6 crosswalks.

Emily Waters
The city budgeted $15,000 to use for treatment of aquatic invasive species in Emily lakes and rivers. The city received three appropriations applications requesting funds for aquatic invasive species treatment. A question regarding the legality of spending city funds for treatment of aquatic and invasive species in Emily lakes and rivers had been raised, so the city attorney was contacted. The city attorney stated Minnesota statutes 459.20 and 103F.801 give cities some of the same powers as county boards for budgeting and appropriating city funds for improving lake water quality but would be confined to lakes wholly within the city’s boundaries and lakes that are not part of an improvement district. Neither Emily Lake nor Roosevelt Lake would qualify for funding because the lakes are not wholly confined within the city’s boundaries. Ruth Lake is within the city’s boundaries but is part of the Ruth Lake Improvement District. The city attorney is concerned that none of the three applications are eligible for the city’s appropriations process. A motion to have the city no longer provide city funds to Emily lakes for treatment of aquatic invasive species failed. A second motion to hold the funding until more information is received passed.

Discussion included Dan Brennan, President, Ruth Lake Improvement District, who requested further information. County boards may create improvement districts and are the only entities able to budget and appropriate funds for improving lake water quality of the district’s lake per the city attorney’s interpretation of statutes. The city attorney is concerned the city also cannot donate to a lake improvement district. Brennan stated funding from the city is integral to the aquatic invasive species treatment of area lakes. The area lake associations and lake improvement district have been very good stewards of their respective lakes and the aquatic invasive species presence is decreasing. Maintaining area lakes increases property and recreational values of the city. Brennan offered his assistance. City Attorney Pearson stated statute allows when a lake is within more than one entity’s boundaries, the city could enter into a joint powers agreement with the other entity. The city attorney will further research appropriation of city funds for aquatic invasive species treatment and review any information received from Brennan for the June meeting.

A motion to approve the S.E.H. agreement for professional services for 2019 pavement maintenance planning support for $7,000 failed with council members Lund, Butcher, Friesner, Hanson and Spiess noting no. Discussion included S.E.H. would develop a five-year pavement maintenance budget, inventory the roads, and recommend the type of maintenance for specific streets. A five-year plan was developed 12 to 14 years ago, but there were not enough funds to complete the plan. The city will contact Anderson Brothers and request a  per mile estimated cost for street maintenance for budget purposes.

MnDOT approved the right-ofway permit for construction of a sidewalk from the public parking lot to the State Highway 6 and County Road 1 crosswalks. The Emily Masonry estimate for construction of the sidewalk wasttabled until the June regular meeting for further research.

MnDOT denied the right-of-way permit applications for installation of flagpoles, city information sign, and electrical for flagpole lights within the MnDOT right-ofway. Coil’s Flags, Flagpoles, & Custom Embroidery provided an estimate of one 30-foot and one 25-foot flagpole for $4,537.50 with installation of $695 including concrete, purchase of two 12-inch eagle finials for $115 each, for a total of $5,462.50. The cost to provide power to the flagpoles would be too high, so solar lights would be purchased and mounted on top of the city information sign. More research is required to determine the location of the flagpoles and city information sign.

The public parking lot needs to be surveyed to determine the property lines. S.E.H. completed a topographic survey but did not mark the property lines.

The city had requested an estimate for digital speed limit signs which was to be submitted with a Sourcewell grant application. The digital speed limit signs did not meet the required MnDOT specifications so they could not be placed on State Highway 6 as planned. An estimate for two digital speed limit signs that do meet MnDOT specifications is $8,248. The city’s cost if the Sourcewell grant were received would be over the amount budgeted for the signs in 2019. The council decided not to submit the grant application this year, but the estimate meeting MnDOT specifications will be added to the 2020 budget.

The verbal pavestripe estimate for $700 was not approved because the curbs do not need to be repainted this year.

Maintenance Shop
There is $11,609.71 remaining in the maintenance shop budget for 2019 to complete electrical service installation. The phase one total is currently $429,239.79 and the phase two total is estimated at $135,000. Phase two includes construction of a well and drain field and the portion of demising wall below the ceiling. Phase two also includes the bollards and apron that were removed from phase one to allow for construction of the demising wall above the ceiling. Councilmember Spiess will request an estimate from Crow Wing Power to provide electrical service to the shop.

The shop needs at least one 16-foot wide garage door. The plans are for 14-foot garage doors, except for the police department garage door. The west side of the shop has not been framed, so a change order could be made. The council voted to add one or two 16-foot garage doors to the shop funded by moving phase one items such as the remaining aprons and bollards to phase two.

City Hall
The council approved the ECTC quote for a clerk’s office server, battery backup and switch for faster internet service at a cost of $1,250.92. Also approved was an ECTC quote to upgrade the city’s surveillance system recorder to 4K with more storage and installing an additional camera at a cost of $980.33.

The pavestripe proposal for pavement striping at city hall and the basketball court was not approved because repainting is not required at this time.

The council passed a motion requiring that all agenda items must be submitted to the clerk’s office by noon on the Thursday before the regular council meeting with the exception of emergencies as determined by the clerk.

The council will hold a workshop before the regular June 11 meeting at 5 p.m. to review agenda items before the meeting. No motions may be made at a workshop and the meeting will be open to the public.

The park commission is going to work on acquiring estimates for development of City Beach phase one including tree removal, construction of the parking area, and construction of the nature trail. The commission will schedule a survey of the City Beach property if the state approves the conditional use deed. Research from the League of Minnesota Cities determined park dedication funds may be used only for the acquisition and development or improvement of parks, recreational facilities, playgrounds, trails, wetlands, or open space based on the approved park system plan. Fees must not be used for ongoing operation or maintenance of parks, recreational facilities, playgrounds, trails, wetlands, or open space. State law does not prevent using funds for improvements of an existing park. City Beach phase two development of campsites would be an improvement and not maintenance but needs to be consistent with plans.

The council voted to purchase two new four-tier bleachers and to replace the boards on the current bleachers at a cost of up to $3,000.

The city received $8,000 in SCORE funds from Crow Wing County for 2019 for the recycling program.  Disbursements to date in 2019 are $5,922.98. Recycling costs have been very high due to excessive amounts of contamination fees. The May recycling invoice total was $3,214.40. Plastic bags are not recyclable and are causing many contamination fees. Signs regarding no plastic bags have been installed at the recycling area. Research will be completed to determine the level of contamination which triggers a contamination fee. The recycling program is almost out of funds. The recycling program is a benefit to the community. The recycling program costs will be monitored and discussed at the June regular council meeting. The council voted to publish newspaper notices regarding contamination from plastic bags, recycling program funding and the possibility of the program ending. The ECTC quote for installation of a camera at the recycling area was not approved due to the possibility of the recycling program ending.

Other Business
In other business, the council:
• Heard Fire Chief Genz report there were 18 members at the last meeting and 3 fire calls;

• Approved two temporary On Sale Intoxicating Liquor Licenses for the Emily Fire Relief Association, one two-day license for June 22 and 23 for the softball tournament and one for July 20 for Emily Day subject to Public Safety Commissioner approval;

• Congratulated first responders Krista Kommer, LeAnn Werner, Mark Werner, and Jim Patrick for receiving life-saver awards for a cardiac call responded to in August of 2018;

• Approved having Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Dave Johnson attend the Basics of Planning and Zoning Training June 6 in Mankato at a cost of $150 plus mileage and Beyond the Basics of Planning and Zoning training in Mankato June 20 at a cost of $150 plus mileage;

• Approved the rental of a street sweeper from RDO Equipment for two weeks at a cost of up to $3,000;

• Approved hiring Randy Deshayes as a part-time seasonal maintenance worker at $15 per hour;

• Approved sending Clerk Johnson to a free Sourcewell Economic Development Training event June 26 in Staples and paying her mileage;

• Approved the Sourcewell internship agreement with college student Sienna-Rae Johnson to work as an independent contractor in the clerk’s office up to 40 hours a week for up to 16 weeks for up to $12 per hour paid by Sourcewell and an additional $3 an hour paid by the city;

• Adopted a resolution approving a charitable gambling license application for the Emily, Outing and Fifty Lakes Lions Club for the annual Corn Feed Raffle August 17 and

• Adopted a resolution to approve a charitable gambling permit for a raffle from May 12 to September 1 on the premises of St. Emily’s Church.

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