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MINUTES– MORRIS CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING–DECEMBER 14, 2010

The regular meeting of the Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 14th day of December, 2010, by Mayor Giese in the Council Chambers of the Morris Senior Citizens/Community Center.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:  The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

ROLL CALL:  Roll call was taken with the following members present:  Council member   Carrington, Miller, Storck and Mayor Giese.  Council member Webster was absent.  Also present was City Manager Hill, Finance Director Krosschell, Fleet Manager Searle, Public Works Director Dittbenner and City Attorney Glasrud.

CITIZEN’S COMMENTS:  Presentation of Human Rights Commission Award:  Ann Streed, Becki Dingman and Brady Jansen of the Human Rights Commission presented the HRC Award to Argie Manolis, who was nominated by Andrew Israels.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  East 2nd Street Improvement Hearing and Resolution Adopting Assessments in Conjunction with the East 2nd Street Improvement Project:  Mayor Giese opened the public hearing at 5:20 p.m.

City Manager Hill stated this public hearing is for presenting the final assessment values for the East 2nd Street project.  Hill explained anyone receiving an assessment was sent a letter.  Anyone has the right to object to an assessment, however, written notice must be given.  Hill indicated the project started a little late but got done right at the end.  There are still some things that have to happen next spring with some landscaping and final paving.  Hill stated one written objection was received, which leaves the possibility of appeal open. 

City Engineer Fier thanked everyone for their cooperation.  Fier explained there are five parts to the assessment and they are curb & gutter, storm sewer, sidewalk, sanitary sewer and water.  Fier reviewed how each item was calculated.  There are four properties on the project whose watermain connects into the alley.  The city anticipates abandoning that 12” watermain, so at a certain point these properties will have to hook into the East 2nd Street line.  At the time they do hook in and the curb stop is turned on they will be assessed.  The property owners include Dave Evenson, John & Deb Leutmer (2 properties) and Timothy Bartram & Ursula Mentges. The University ended up paying over $245,000 for this project.

Rod Koehler, who lives at the corner of 2nd Street and Montana, noted the contractor knocked some curb out in front of his house and that still hasn't been fixed.  Fier stated he would make sure it got done in the spring.

Hill noted that next spring City Engineer Fier will go back and check the work to see if anything has cracked over the winter and needs to be replaced, as there is warranty on the work.  Hill stated the city knows that the concrete got poured late so that will be watched closely.  If the assessment is adopted tonight, a follow up letter will be sent outlining the payment options. 

Jerry Wright, representing Lutheran Campus Ministry, asked about the repair to their sprinkler system.  Fier indicated that would also be fixed in the spring.  Fier stated the boulevards would be seeded and fertilized in the spring as well.   

Neil Simonson, 302 East 2nd Street, stated he does not want to, but feels he needs to file an objection to the assessment due to the fact that prior to the project he had a dry basement and now he has water seepage in the basement.  Simonson asked if the city could check the chlorine content of the water to see where it's coming from.  Simonson stated he has no other recourse because there is no explanation other than something that went awry or amiss on this project.  Simonson stated his hope is that he can convince the city’s great project engineer and great engineering firm to have a look at this and see what went awry. 

Hill stated there are two parts to the written objection, the first is to the water problem in the basement and the other is to the value of the assessment.  Hill explained one of the things the city has done on the past few projects is hired an appraiser to pre-appraise the value of an assessment project.  The appraisal on this project came out ahead of the project cost, because the bid ended up being even lower than anticipated. 

Simonson clarified that what he was referring to was the fact that having water in the basement would decrease the value of the assessment, not increase it.  Simonson stated he has also put notice of claim into the city’s insurance company.

Hill recommended, with City Attorney Glasrud’s approval, that the council adopt the assessment.  Simonson would then have 30 days in which to appeal to district court.  Hill stated the last objection to an assessment was actually mediated before it went to district court. 

Fier stated if it is the city’s problem it would be remedied one way or another.  Fier noted it may be harder to figure out now that it’s winter.  Simonson indicated he heard from an anonymous source that the drainage equation from certain lots changes during a project.  Fier explained that usually the sewage and water follows it's way out to the street.  The service line was put in up to the curb stop which is all imbedded in rock and gravel.  Fier acknowledged this is an unusual thing but staff would continue to look into it.   

Council member Storck moved, seconded by Miller, to adopt Resolution #2961-12-10, Resolution Adopting Assessments in Conjunction with the East 2nd Street Improvement Project.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES:  11/23/10 Regular Meeting Minutes:  Council member Miller moved, seconded by Storck, to approve the 11/23/10 regular meeting minutes.  Motion carried.

11/23/10 Condensed Version:  Council member Carrington moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to approve the 11/23/10 condensed version minutes.  Motion carried.

CONSENT AGENDA:  Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Miller, to approve the consent agenda which included the following items:

         A.      Audit of City Bills

         B.      Pay Estimate #6 – East 2nd Street

         C.      November Transit Report

         D.      Raffle License Report

Motion carried.

PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND COMMUNICATIONS:  Gambling Application from American Legion:  Council member Storck moved, seconded by Miller, to accept the gambling application from the American Legion.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor and Mayor Giese abstaining, motion carried.

ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS:  Resolution Increasing Sewer and Water Utility Rates for 2011:  Council member Storck moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to adopt Resolution #2962-12-10, Resolution Increasing Sewer and Water Utility Rates for 2011, increasing rates by approximately 3%.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Setting Fees and Charges:  Hill stated one of the overall things taken into consideration in looking at fees is that it takes a considerable amount of time to do things.  Hill explained the city revenue sources are limited to the tax levy and LGA so the city is getting to a point where it has to look at what it’s providing for services. 

Hill stated one of the first things looked at was the building fees, because this year the city is not going to make enough to even pay for the building inspector.  The water turn off and on fee for delinquency was increased to $25 each, but a new customer is not charged to have water turned on.   Dog licenses were increased to $5.  Another item that was discussed is the water/sewer connection fee.  Hill indicated the new fee schedule will have a connection fee for sewer that is the rolling average of what it costs to put in the infrastructure to support the unit, which the council knows from this meeting is very expensive.  This year that cost is approximately $2,200, which is a big change from $275.

Storck stated, as he has in the past, that he doesn’t think it’s right to charge people for building permits for things like shingling or siding when they’re just trying to make their house look better.  Storck asked that the city crew follow up on excavation permits and make sure the gas company is doing what they’re supposed to.  

Hill stated in order for someone to move a house into town now they need to have a moving permit and pay a fee. 

Council member Miller moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to adopt Resolution #2963-12-10, Resolution Setting Fees and Charges.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Authorizing the Installation of a Computer Read Utility Meter System:  Hill stated city staff has been looking into a computer read meter system.  This would allow the city to bill on a monthly basis and to catch up and make bills current.  The process would be to go ahead and install about 100 of these units and do a test to train people on how it's going to work.  Direct deposit would also be available with this system.  The cost of the system is $370,000, which does not include installation.

Glasrud questioned the bid law with this purchase.  Hill indicated the meters are purchased separately, which the city is buying on a continuous basis.  The system itself is less than $100,000, along with some additional software that is needed.  The money to purchase the system would come from within the utility fund and the city would gain about two months worth of usage in the first 4-6 months to help offset the cost.    

After considerable discussion, it was the consensus of the council that this is a good purchase but to table the item so City Attorney Glasrud could advise on the bid law aspect. 

Council member Miller moved, seconded by Storck, to table Resolution Authorizing the Installation of a Computer Read Utility Meter System.  Motion carried.

Resolution Approving an Amendment to a Ground Lease Agreement and Approving a Wind Facilities Ground Lease and Easement Agreement with UMM:  Hill explained there are two agreements, the first being an amendment to the ground lease agreement and the second a wind facilities ground lease and easement agreement.  The city has a current ground lease agreement to lease PDT land to WCROC for their scenic overlook.  An amendment to that would also allow the placement of a wind turbine on a corner of PDT Park that wasn't originally part of the ground lease. 

Glasrud explained if anyone would have a claim against the turbine it would be the University’s responsibility.  There would be a one time payment of $3,000 from the University for the land.  Glasrud suggested the council approve these agreements, subject to the specifics being worked out between the attorneys.

Council member Miller moved, seconded by Storck, to adopt Resolution #2964-12-10, Resolution Approving an Amendment to a Ground Lease Agreement and Approving a Wind Facilities Ground Lease and Easements Agreement with UMM, subject to City Attorney’s approval of contract language.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

BUDGET PRESENTATION:  Hill stated one change with regard to the Library Fund budget is that the city is required by State Statute to provide a minimum amount of funding to the library and for 2011 that amount is $277,328.  Hill noted if there is a cut in state aid, the library is the only operation that is guaranteed funding. 

The levy for 2010 is $1,251,465, which is 5% over last year.  This includes a new debt levy of $100,000 for the East 2nd Street project.  Market values are estimated at $220,129,800, which is about a 1% increase.  The 2011 tax rate is 52.217%, which is an increase of 6.286%.

Hill reviewed a list of revenue and expense considerations as follows:  wages should be frozen for 2011 and probably 2012; LGA will be cut by the legislature, law enforcement center rent is up $10,000 because of the new building; fuel costs continue to fluctuate; market value of property is continuing to rise; all street signs need to be replaced; infrastructure needs continue to use resources; the workforce should stay the same; insurance rates continue to rise, especially workers compensation; provision of $150,000 to the capital outlay fund for equipment; estimate of aid to be cut between 8% and 16%; freeze all capital equipment purchases; limit all travel expenses; update of fee schedule to help recovery costs; raise utility rates by 3%.

The 2011 proposed budget is $8,466,442, which is a total budget decrease of .18%. 

Council member Miller moved, seconded by Storck, to adopt Resolution #2965-12-10, Resolution Approving the Final 2010 Tax Levy for Collection in 2011.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Carrington, to adopt Resolution #2966-12-10, Resolution Adopting the Final 2011 Budget for the City of Morris.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

CITY MANAGER’S REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONS:  2011 Licenses:  Council member Miller moved, seconded by Storck, to approve the 2011 licenses as submitted.        

Appointing Morris Sun Tribune as Official Publication:  Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Storck, to appoint the Morris Sun Tribune as the official publication for the City of Morris.  Motion carried.

City Manager Report:  This was informational for the council.

NEW BUSINESS:  None

OLD BUSINESS:  None

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS:  None

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Mayor Giese adjourned the meeting at 7:15 p.m.

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