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MINUTES–MORRIS CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING–JANUARY 28 , 2014

The regular meeting of the Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 28th day of January, 2014, 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 Wohlers, Solvie, Storck and Mayor Giese.  Also present was City Manager Hill, Finance Director Raasch and Police Chief Tiegs.  Public Works Director Dittbenner arrived at 5:19 p.m.  Council member Miller arrived at 5:23 p.m.

ADDITION TO AGENDA:  Mayor Giese added two Application for Exempt Permits to the agenda.

CITIZENíS COMMENTS:  Jerry Lesmeister, 502 East 4th Street, was present at the meeting and stated the city needs to act differently in enforcing sidewalk shoveling because it is not effective.  Lesmeister indicated they do a lot of walking and it is a public safety issue.  Lesmeister pointed out there is an ordinance and heís wondering what can be done to enforce it. 

City Manager Hill explained that the city does not have the manpower to enforce every ordinance.  The public works departmentís first priority is to clear the snow off the streets.  To physically tour the city after every snowstorm and inspect every sidewalk in town is a long and complex process and the city doesnít have the resources.  Lesmeister indicated the city has police officers that drive around 24/7 and transit drivers driving around all day. 

Considerable discussion was held about snow removal on sidewalks, snow alerts and businesses and homeowners pushing snow from their sidewalks into the city streets.

PUBLIC HEARINGSResolution Approving a Wastewater Treatment Facility Plan

Kris Swanson of Bolton & Menk was present at the meeting.  Swanson stated the project overview includes evaluation of the cityís aging infrastructure, the capital improvement plan and compliance with the national pollution discharge elimination system.  This means the cityís NPDES permit requires lowering the chloride from approximately 700 mg/L to 406 mg/L, prior to the year 2020.

Swanson indicated they feel the cityís pond system is adequate for a short time and suggests focusing on water treatment.   Swanson suggested in order to treat for chlorides, source reduction such as lime softening is the best.  This softens the water so residents and industries use less salt.  Then it removes what salt is there and puts it in to a lime sludge that can be hauled off to farms.  Swanson stated the other option is a reverse osmosis plant where the reject stream would  be discharged into the wastewater plant, but the MPCA has indicated they will regulate that as well so that doesnít solve the problem.    

With regard to the wastewater recommendations, Swanson stated the ponds are at or near capacity and the city should consider mechanical treatment in 4-7 years.  The recommended project location would be near the existing ponds or main lift station.  The cost for this update is approximately $9.5 million with a $40,000 increase in operating and maintenance costs.  The projects are split out separately for a better chance of funding. 

Swanson stated the current recommended project of a lime softening facility is approximately $9.4 million to construct with the availability of low interest loans and grants.  The projected impact on water rates is an increase of $24.35 a month to anywhere from $42 to $52, based on 700 cubic feet.  Swanson noted this increase will be offset by the salt savings.  This facility is proposed to be located near the existing facility near the well field.  Swanson reviewed the proposed schedule which has the plant being projected to be online by the fall of 2016. 

Mayor Giese asked if the city would consider adjusting sewer rates as well in anticipation of the wastewater project.  Swanson noted the city almost has to implement a rate increase each year to pay for infrastructure.  Storck asked what would happen with the MPCA if the city didnít make the changes.  Hill stated they would come back to the city and there is a repercussion for not doing anything. 

Hill added that this issue goes beyond Minnesota.  The city is not the problem but the MPCA has control and the city cannot discharge without a permit.  Hill stated next year the city may have to start looking at water conservation rates, which are rates that penalize people for using more water than they should.  Todd Valnes indicated there are a lot of ground sprinkling systems that would be affected by that. 

Lesmeister asked if the city of Alberta would participate.  Hill indicated they will participate by paying the increase in rates.  Lesmeister asked about houses out in Hillside and along East 7th.  Hill stated the only way they would pay is if it was paid through a tax.   

Considerable discussion was held on the cost of the plant. The possibility of having some of the smaller surrounding towns hook up was discussed.  It was the consensus of the council that this was a necessary project.

Mayor Giese closed the public hearing at 6:26 and brought the matter back to the council for action.

Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Miller, to adopt Resolution #3210-1-14, Resolution Approving a Wastewater Treatment Facility Plan.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES1/14/14 Regular Meeting Minutes:  Council member Storck moved, seconded by Solvie, to approve the 1/14/14 regular meeting minutes.  Motion carried.

1/14/14 Condensed Version Minutes:  Council member Miller moved, seconded by Wohlers, to approve the 1/14/14 condensed version minutes.  Motion carried.

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

         A.      Audit of City Bills

         B.      Gambling Reports

         C.      Planning Commission Minutes, 12/17/13

         D.      Application for Exempt Permits – Stevens County Pheasants Forever

                  March 29, 2014 and May 10, 2014

Motion carried.

PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND COMMUNICATIONS:  None

ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONSResolution Approving a Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy for the City of Morris Public Works:  Council member Miller moved, seconded by Solvie, to adopt Resolution #3211-1-14, Resolution Approving a Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy for the City of Morris Public Works.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Approving a Title VI Civil Rights Program for Morris Transit:  Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Storck, to adopt Resolution #3212-1-14, Resolution Approving a Title VI Civil Rights Program for Morris Transit.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONSNeighborhood Commercial Zoning District:  Hill indicated the Planning Commission is going to hold a public hearing at their next meeting on the new Neighborhood Commercial district.  Notices will be sent to the same group that received them the last time.  Hill explained that for the most part the commission took commercial and residential stuff that was already in place and morphed it together.  This was provided to the council for comment and informational purposes. 

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 6:43 p.m.

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