MINUTES – MORRIS CITY COUNCIL REGULAR
MEETING–NOVEMBER 12, 2013
The regular meeting of the
Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 12th day
of November, 2013, by Mayor Giese in the Council Chambers of the Morris Senior
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE: The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
ROLL CALL: Roll call was taken with the following
members present: Council member Wohlers, Solvie, Miller, Storck and Mayor
Giese. Also present was City Manager Hill, Finance Director Raasch, City
Engineer/Surveyor/Inspector Fier and City Attorney Jordan.
CITIZEN’S COMMENTS: None
PUBLIC HEARINGS: Resolution Adopting Assessments in
Conjunction with the West 9th, 10th and 11th
Street Improvement Project: Mayor Giese opened the public hearing at
City Manager Hill
explained that there is a right to appeal the assessment and by the end of the
hearing the council must be presented with a written notification to appeal the
assessment. Once this resolution is adopted property owners have 30 days
to make the appeal to district court and the courts will rule on whether the
assessment was appropriate.
Jay Fier, City Engineer, stated
there are a few places where sidewalk needs to be fixed and that will be done next
spring. There are also some driveways in phase 3 that haven't been done
yet but will be completed this week. Fier indicated Vicky Dosdall has put
a temporary blanket on the unseeded part of the project. The white pipes
in the boulevards will be cut down and buried yet this fall. The alleys
still need some black dirt as they look shabby in some
Fier reviewed the six
different assessments on the project. The sanitary sewer assessable cost,
after the city’s 25% share was taken into consideration, was $131,981.
This figure was adjusted to reflect an 8” pipe rate, not the 12” that was put in.
This amount was divided by 71 users for an assessment of $1,858 per user.
The estimate used at the improvement hearing was $3,440.
The total assessable cost
for water was $251,394 divided by 67 users for an assessment of $3,752 per user.
The estimate was $4,430 per user.
The total assessable cost
for storm sewer was $63,736. Fier noted the water shed wasn't quite as
big as originally thought. This amount was divided by 732,999 square feet
for a total of $.087 per square foot. The estimate used was $.061 per
The curb & gutter bid
price was $11.02 per lineal foot. The original estimate was $13.57 per
Fier stated with regard to
sidewalks, he walked through the project area three separate times, once by
himself, once with WSN and once with the contractor. There were some
cases where there was pretty good sidewalk but it had to be taken out to get to
a sewer and water connection. The bid was $3.40 per square foot for a 4”
sidewalk, $4.57 per square foot for a 6” sidewalk. The estimate at the
hearing was $5.43 per square foot.
The total cost for the street
assessment was $1,032,173. The city picked up 75% of the street on this
particular project with the remaining 25%, or $258,043, being assessed to property
owners. This is the first time the city has done a street
assessment. Fier explained that a 50 x 140 foot (7,000 square feet) lot is
considered a standard lot so he took the actual lot sizes, and in some cases the
parcel sizes, and divided that by 7,000. He then added up all the units
and came up with 127.24 units for $2,028 per unit. The estimate used at
the improvement hearing was much higher.
Wohlers noted from what Fier
has shared, most of the assessments came in lower than what was originally
Karen Berget, 909 Nevada,
stated she was upset when she found out her sidewalk was taken out. Berget
stated it wasn't heaving and there was one tiny little crack that went through
two sections of it. Berget stated this has been a really expensive
project for her and cost a little over $10,000, which included some charges for
sewer problems. Berget indicated she talked with Fier about it this summer and
was surprised to find out that she would be paying $1,158 for a sidewalk that she
didn't think needed to be replaced. Berget pointed out to the council
that they need to be careful when they’re spending someone else's money.
Hill informed Berget the council could adjust the amount or she could file a
Fier noted that it was a
safety issue. There were other sidewalks that weren't in as tough of
shape but Fier stated each time he walked through there was not a sidewalk that
he thought should be saved. Fier stated anyone that knows him knows he doesn't
take things out that shouldn't be taken out. Fier noted he and Berget
have differing opinions on things. Berget indicated she could see taking
it out if it was heaving or a safety hazard. Berget stated overall the
project went well but she is upset and thought the council should know
Hill pointed out that all
the old sidewalk that's left is in pretty good shape. Hill indicated it
is kind of a dilemma the city has because they can't go to every property owner
and talk about sidewalk. Hill suggested in the future notifying owners that
they will have sidewalk replaced so they are aware. Fier added that there
was 15 to 20 feet of that sidewalk that definitely had to be removed to get the
sewer and water back there. Berget confirmed that was true because they had
to replace the sewer line.
Kelly Nichols, who owns two
properties at 813 Pacific and 107 West 9th Street, stated he has
owned property in Morris for 25 years. About 7 years ago he had an
assessment for $3,000, about 3 years ago it was $6,000 and now at 107 West 9th
the assessment is almost $13,000. Nichols stated the city must be
familiar with M.S. 429 which states that a city cannot assess for more than the
benefit to the property. Nichols asked if the city did a determination of
the values prior to the project. Hill explained a company called Nagel Appraising
did the work and the general appraisal was between $7,000 and $11,000,
depending on the size of the property. Hill noted this is a general
appraisal and not for each specific property. Hill indicated Nichols has
the right to appeal and have a property specific appraisal. Hill stated sidewalks
kicked up the value of these assessments, especially on a corner lot. Hill
pointed out if the appraisal comes back higher then the city is going to ask
for more money. Nichols stated he was not too concerned about that.
Hill stated this project
should have been done 30 years ago. Hill firmly believes it increases the
value of the property because you can't sell a property if you can't get to
it. Nichols informed the city that he has an appeal letter but asked if there
were any negotiations other than district court. Hill stated he did not
plan on having any negotiations. Nichols noted this assessment is just
not realistic with a market value of his house at $28,000 and a $13,000
assessment. Nichols stated West 6th Street was a pretty
comparable project and that assessment was $6,000. Fier pointed out this
is a 100 foot lot, which accounts for two units on the street assessment.
Hill indicated the city is not allowed to asses based on the value of the house.
Nichols noted the assessment has to coincide with the benefit to the
house. Hill indicated it could be that the land is worth more than the
house. Nichols pointed out that a bare lot in Morris, Minnesota isn't
worth more than $20,000-$25,000. Council member Solvie stated if a lot is
located in a neighborhood where everything is done it would be worth
Mike Schneider, 204 West 9th,
thanked the city for fixing the street. Schneider stated with regard to
establishment of the grass it is apparent that some of it is not going to make
it. Also, Schneider referred to his sidewalk and stated initially their location
only had one or two sections that were going to be replaced. It was
fairly new and was done to straighten out the sidewalk but wasn't in the original
plan. Fier explained that it was moved back father to where the property
line was to make his driveway more of a gentle slope.
Shannon Meyer, 823 Pacific,
requested that all steel posts in future projects have tennis balls on them as
a safety issue.
A number of written
appeals were presented to the council. Hill notified all those that
presented appeals that the next step is for them to file the appeal with
district court so it gets put on the court docket. The time limit to do
that is 30 days from today. Hill indicated that the city will not order
an appraisal until someone has filed an appeal with district court.
Nichols asked if it would
make more sense to hire the appraiser before they go to court. Hill
stated he didn’t think so because that is basically saying the city would get an
appraisal and then sit down and negotiate. Hill asked what the city is
supposed to do in these small towns when these roads are failing. This
discussion is taking place across Minnesota and some cities are talking of
assessing streets on utility bills. Nichols believes the streets should
come out of the general fund. Hill argued that there isn’t possibly
enough money for that. Hill pointed out the appraiser, who does this for a
living, said that neighborhood was one of the worst he's ever seen.
Doug Kill Jr, 300 West 10th
Street, stated he doesn’t understand how the city decides to assess 9th,
10th and 11th Street and have them pay for 25% of the street
but nobody else in town has had to do that. Kill asked if that was
something that would be assessed going forward with every other project.
Hill stated the city has to do something to get caught up on fixing roads and eventually
it will come around to everyone. Hill noted the city was originally going
to assess roads at 75%.
Nichols stated he is under
no illusion that his assessment is going to go back to zero but his attorney
has dealt with these situations all over the state and has won in every
case. Hill indicated that Nichols should be fine then. Nichols pointed
out that this is a cost that he’s going to have to pass along to his tenants
and asked Hill if he was advocating that rents in Morris be increased.
Hill stated he is saying the roads should be fixed.
Council member Storck indicated
the city will never get done fixing streets because by the time all of them are
done it will be time to start over. Storck stated he does not know the
answer but asked the audience to put themselves in the council’s shoes.
Berget stated with regard
to the value of assessments, if a house is sold the seller is going to have to
pay it off and it will reduce the equity in the home. It may increase
usability but will not increase the sale value of the property. Solvie argued
that it has increased the value because who is going to want to buy it knowing
those things don’t work. Solvie commended every one that came to the
meeting because that shows they’re concerned about their property. However,
the roads need to be fixed otherwise the whole town will end up like this
neighborhood was. Nichols agreed that the city has to continue to
maintain its infrastructure but they’re going to have to figure out how to pay
Jeremiah Kill asked what happens
if the sidewalks start cracking or upheaving and if there was a warranty on
them. Fier noted the warranty is one year from the final payment on the
project. Fier stated that the general contractor is so reliable that even
if something goes wrong a couple years down the road they will deal with
Mayor Giese closed the
public hearing at 6:23 and brought the matter back to the council for action.
Hill informed everyone
that the city will send out a second notice to property owners letting them
know the assessment has been approved and that they can pay it off within 30
days without interest.
Wohlers stated he thought
the project went very well and thanked Jay for his efforts. Wohlers has
lived in Morris his whole life and feels this neighborhood is going to look
Council member Wohlers
moved, seconded by Solvie, to adopt Resolution #3192-11-13, Resolution Adopting
Assessments in Conjunction with the West 9th, 10th and 11th
Street Improvement Project. Upon a roll call vote taken and all present
voting in favor, motion carried.
READING AND APPROVAL OF
MINUTES: 10/22/13 Regular
Meeting Minutes: Council member Storck moved, seconded by Miller, to
approve the 10/22/13 regular meeting minutes. Motion carried.
Version Minutes: Council
member Solvie moved, seconded by Wohlers, to approve the 10/22/13 condensed
version minutes. Motion carried.
CONSENT AGENDA: Council member Storck, seconded by Mayor
Giese, to approve the consent agenda which included the following items:
of City Bills
Estimate #6 – West 9th/10th/11th Street
Estimate #5 – Dore & Associates
Final Pay Estimate – F & S Concrete
PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND
Report from American Legion: Council member Miller moved, seconded by
Storck, to accept the gambling report from the American Legion. Upon a
roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor and Mayor Giese abstaining
as an officer of the Legion, motion carried.
Approving a County Project Within the City of Morris Corporate Limits:
The County has asked for a resolution to approve a road project on County Road
No. 22 located in the City limits near the fairgrounds and public works
garage. Fier indicated he has met with Brian Giese from the county and they
will work together on some catch basins that have a little bit of
Mayor Giese moved,
seconded by Council member Wohlers, to adopt Resolution #3193-11-13, Resolution
Approving a County Project Within the City of Morris Corporate Limits.
Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.
CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS
& RECOMMENDATIONS: Motion
to Order Police Cars: Council member Miller moved, seconded by
Storck, to authorize the purchase of two new police cars from Heartland Motors
in Morris. Motion carried. They will come out of next year’s budget
but take several months to get so should be ordered now.
City Manager Report: This was informational for the council.
Fier stated the tree
planting over the past weekend went very well with 33 people coming out to
help, ranging in age from 3 to 67. They planted 10 different species of
trees with 60 being planted in Green River Park and 32 in East Side. The
reason for the abundance of trees is that there are so many ash trees in these
parks and they are susceptible to the Emerald Ash Borer. Wohlers noted he
received a call wondering why the trees were purchased out of town. Fier
stated it was simply a matter of going with the low bidder.
NEW BUSINESS: None
OLD BUSINESS: None
INFORMATIONAL ITEMS: Community Pride Project Dedication:
There will be a dedication ceremony for the new Christmas lights at 5:30 p.m.
before the Parade of Lights on November 14th. The Chamber
would like a representative of the city to be there.
ADJOURNMENT: There being no further business, Mayor
Giese adjourned the meeting at 6:47 p.m.