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Jenkins City Council Feb. 8 Highlights

Web posted February 23, 2021
(Editor’s note: The following article was written from unapproved minutes of the Regular monthly meeting of the Jenkins City Council held February 8, 2021 as provided by the City Clerk.)

The February 8, 2021 regular meeting of the Jenkins City Council was held at City Hall. Present in person were Mayor Lubke; Council Members Stricker, Hoffman, Rudlang, Bachmann; Clerk Okerman and Deputy Clerk Caswell. Others in attendance: Travis Grimler, Echo Journal; John Schommer, Brainerd HRA; Erica Bjelland, Region Five Development Commission; and Sgt. Ryan Franz, Pequot Lakes Police Department.

Mayor Lubke noted the additional language under Public Comment: "No response or action will be immediately taken to citizen requests other than to refer the matter to city staff for further research and a written report back to the city council.” Lubke noted it states citizens are to make a presentation and not participate in a dialogue with Council.

Consent Agenda

Lubke noted there was an addendum of information added to Meeting Procedures and Decorum and addition of Old Park Equipment to the February 8, 2021 agenda.

Hoffman requested the following change to the January 27, 2021 Minutes; Hoffman noted he would like to meet with Okerman and Olmscheid to discuss road projects and start acquiring bids estimates. It was the consensus of Council to proceed with discussions and acquisition of bids estimates for street projects.

Hoffman made a motion to approve the consent agenda with above noted changes, Stricker seconded. The Consent Agenda included: Minutes of the January 28th meeting, Financial report through Jan. 31, 2021, Pre-written checks 23087-23089 and EFT’s in the amount of $2,402.77; and Proposed checks 23090-23097 and EFT’s in the amount of $9,542.60. Expenses totaled $11,945.37.

Region Five Community Energy and Environment Planning
Lubke reported he had been contacted by Erica Bjelland of Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) regarding the Community Energy & Environment Planning Program opportunity. The deadline for submittal for applications is early March 2021.

Bjelland reported that every five years R5DC prepares a comprehensive plan for the Brainerd Lakes area. The latest plan revealed that citizens were interested in environment and energy incentive programs. R5DC is seeking ten applicants for their Energy and Environment Planning process who prioritize energy and environment projects that complement their city’s comprehensive plans.

Bjelland stated the USDA Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) would match a community commitment up to $5,000. She added that in addition, Sourcewell has a community match program that would match up to $5,000, resulting in $10,000 in grant funding for project implementation at no cost to the city.

Bjelland stated the funds are expected to be spent in the funded year, with a maximum of one year after funding is provided. Okerman noted Council has previously discussed using Sourcewell Community Match funds for adding ADA playground equipment to Veteran’s Park, adding that no more than one Community Match Funds will be awarded per year through Sourcewell.

Lubke recommended a committee of Council to pursue projects and ideas and report back to the full Council. Council members Hoffman and Rudlang volunteered for the committee.

The consensus of the council was to have Hoffman and Rudlang pursue project ideas and report back before moving forward with the grant application.

Meeting Times and Schedule
Okerman reported the meeting time of the second monthly meeting has been a concern of some Council members due to the start time conflicting with work schedules. Council in attendance of the January 27 meeting agreed to hold the second meeting of the month the fourth Tuesday at 4:30 PM with a limit one and a half hours for the meeting. This agenda item was tabled until full council was present to vote. Council approved the motion on Feb. 8.

Personnel Committee

Lubke noted the City had a personnel committee and an addendum to a job description should be discussed by the personnel committee before presenting to Council. Okerman recommended the personnel committee meet before the next meeting. Council tabled the issue until the personnel committee has a meeting.

Small Cities Development Program
Okerman reported one of the concerns noted from the citizens in the Jenkins Comprehensive Plan was to improve the look of the city.

Rudlang noted the inclusion of Commercial properties for this grant appeared only to be included to increase the likelihood of the residential grants being awarded. He asked for clarification on the impact to property values with a Slum and Blight designation.

John Schommer, Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority, stated he has not heard of any decrease in property value due to this designation. He noted the projects that qualify for the commercial grants are for improvements to the exterior façade of the building, which in his experience has increased the property value.

Hoffman asked for clarification on when the city’s committed amount of $5,000 would be required. He noted this amount had not been included in the 2021 operating budget. Schommer stated the City’s commitment would be expensed first, followed by Crow Wing County HRA’s $10,000 commitment, and the remaining funding from DEED.

Schommer noted DEED would release the recipients of the grants in May or June of 2021 and a few steps are needed before projects can commence. He told council this could be as soon as fall of 2021 or after.

Small Cities Development Program Public Hearing
Schommer reported the city of Jenkins had submitted a preliminary application to Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and was invited to submit a formal application by March 12, 2021 for the Small Cities Development Program for owner-occupied and commercial rehabilitation.

Schommer said the owner occupied rehabilitation was to improve health and safety issues, energy efficiency, mechanical and structural needs, citing the ultimate goal was to make a house more accommodating for livable and sustainable for years to come. He added that the purpose of the commercial rehabilitation was to improve the exterior building envelope, accessibility improvements and fire and safety code related improvements.

Resident Wanda Gorgoschlitz, asked for clarification on designating the city as a “Slum City,” and what it would do to the property value of those properties. Schommer explained that designation was only for the commercial rehabilitation grant and for a portion of the commercial district.

Schommer reported the area was determined by interest survey letters received, the type of business on each commercial lot and how many buildings were structurally standard, substandard or dilapidated. Schommer said it helps as the rehabilitation increases the property value and usually results in a trickle effect of surrounding properties also remodeling or rehabilitating their property.

Lubke noted “Slum and Blight” is more a term used to show need for a project to the funding agency, not how the community was viewed as a whole.

Resident Sheri McSherry, noted she wanted to show her support and listen to the discussion and feedback from other citizens and Council members. She thinks it is an excellent thing the City is trying to accomplish.

Following the hearing, Council approved applying for the program. Three motion approvals followed: the first to authorize completion of the Conflict of Interest Disclosure form; the second for a Designation of Slum and Blight Commercial District with attached Exhibit A; and the third for the Adoption of a Citizen Participation Plan. All were unanimously approved.

Operational Budget Resolution
Okerman reported the addition of reporting funds on the monthly bank reconciliation. She gave recommendations of considerations for future budget and financial reports, most notably defining terminology, a consistent format, and, a policy for the operational fund balance.

The consensus of Council was to direct Hoffman, Lubke and Okerman to meet and find a clear and consistent format for future years. Council approved a motion Hoffman to table approval of the 2021 operational budget until the March 8, 2021 meeting. The vote was unanimous.

Appointment of Boards/Committees
Okerman reported there was discussion specifically on the Parks and Rec and Cemetery Committees as they were not active. She noted both have specific Bylaws adopted and are not currently being followed due to lack of committee members. Okerman recommended the bylaws be reformatted or suspended until full committee commences. She noted when and if formal committee meets at minimum a written report or minutes should be filed at the City Hall.

Okerman recommended Cemetery Committee items should be completed at City Hall as all Cemetery documents and payments are held at City Hall.

She recommended changes to the 2021 appointments list as some positions and individuals were no longer needed or required to be appointed by resolution.

Council motioned to suspend the Cemetery Committee at this time as well as Park and Rec Committee with the hope that a community organization, such as the Jenkins Lions Club, would assist in reconvening the committee. It was consensus of Council to set term limits for the Planning Commission and remove the listed City Accountant.

Meeting procedures and decorum
Lubke noted there has never been a policy or Bylaws for City Council Meetings and Procedures’ and suggests finding a method and policy for Jenkins City Council.

Old Park Equipment
Lubke noted the old park equipment could be a resource if and when a new Park and Recreation Committee reconvened.

In other council action:
• Approved the 2021 Law Enforcement with Pequot Lakes Police Department;
• Approved the MN Deer Hunters Association request for a gambling raffle;
• Lubke requested when Planning Commission meets the draft minutes are included in the succeeding City Council Agenda package.

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