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MINUTES –  MORRIS CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING  –  MAY 13, 2014

The regular meeting of the Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 13th day of May, 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, Miller, Storck and Mayor Giese.  Also present was City Manager Hill, Finance Director Raasch, Police Chief Tiegs, and City Attorney Jordan. 

ADDITION TO AGENDA:  Mayor Giese added an Application for Exempt Permit from the American Legion to the agenda.

CITIZENíS COMMENTS:  Don Rasmussen, 107 East 9th Street, was present at the meeting to discuss properties that have junk and debris that he would like to see cleaned up.  Rasmussen noted 111 East 9th Street, 906 Oregon and 110 East 10th Street are some of the worst.  Rasmussen stated he would not have moved to town if he would have known he would have to put up with these kind of messes.  Rasmussen indicated it is a shame that the city has ordinances where nothing gets done and he encouraged the council to enforce them. 

Council member Storck stated he was embarrassed because the council is the people that run the city and the blame goes to the five of them.  Storck asked the council to  get something done.  Wohlers added that the council all wants the same thing and for the town to look inviting for people.  Wohlers agreed there are some trouble spots that should be looked at. 

City Manager Hill stated he would take a look at the properties mentioned. 

Jerry Lesmeister, 502 East 4th Street, was present at the meeting to discuss shoveling of sidewalks and rental properties.  Lesmeister stated he came before the council a few months ago about this same issue and he wants to get a jump on things before the next winter season.  Lesmeister stated he feels a lot has to do with public education and suggested reinstating the newsletter that the city used to do a few years back.  This would be a way to inform people about lawn mowing, grass clippings, junk and snow shoveling. 

Hill indicated he believes that you can spend all the money you want on education for snow removal and a quarter of the people just donít care.  Lesmeister stated the cost of snow removal and lawn mowing should automatically be included in a tenantís rent.  Hill stated the landlords wonít do that and the city canít make them.

Lesmeister also discussed that out of the 16 houses in the two blocks near his home 8 of them are rentals.  Lesmeister indicated there are cities that have a restriction on the number of rental properties per block.  Lesmeister stated he is concerned that there are some other houses in his neighborhood that are going to come up for sale and turn into rentals.  Lesmeister asked if a limit on the number of rentals is something that could be looked at.

Hill explained that property owners have a right to buy/sell and use a home for their purpose.  If it is a rental they have to have an inspection and a license.  Hill noted there

are towns that do limit that and there are towns that also limit the number of people that can live in a house.  An ordinance would have to be looked at but the city would be telling people they can't do what they want with their property.   

Lesmeister stated he is a long term resident of Morris and if it gets to the point where it affects the value of their home they will have to take a look at that. 

Hill stated 40% of properties in Morris are rentals so the city is probably not going to make people get rid of their rentals.  Wohlers asked if the existing ones could be grandfathered in. Storck noted that if you live in a taxing district with a bunch of run down rentals it could affect your taxes. 

Hill indicated he believes that you can spend all the money you want on education for snow removal and a quarter of the people just donít care.  Lesmeister stated the cost of snow removal and lawn mowing should automatically be included in a tenantís rent.  Hill stated the landlords wonít do that and the city canít make them. 

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None

READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES4/22/14 Regular Meeting Minutes:  Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Wohlers, to approve the 4/22/14 regular meeting minutes.  Motion carried.

4/22/14 Condensed Version Minutes:  Council member Storck moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to approve the 4/22/14 condensed version minutes.  Motion carried.

Application for Temporary On Sale Liquor License – American Legion:  Mayor Giese removed this item from the consent agenda.  Council member Miller moved, seconded by Solvie, to approve the temporary on sale liquor license 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.

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

         A.      Audit of City Bills

         B.      Pay Estimate #3 & #4 – Ebert Construction

         C.      April Transit Report

         D.      Gambling Reports

         E.       Revenue & Expenditure Report

Motion carried.

PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND COMMUNICATIONSMotion to Approve Schedule Extension for Morris Airport Hangar Project:  Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Wohlers, to approve the schedule extension for the Morris Airport Hangar Project, with a new completion date of June 18th.  Motion carried.

ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONSResolution Setting a Public Hearing to Consider the Transfer of City of Morris MIF Funds to the SCEIC:  Hill explained that DEED changed the rules to allow for the funds from developmental loan pools to go to a local development organization for administration.  These funds came to the city through various programs and are used for a revolving loan fund. 

Solvie asked if the funds are run by the SCEIC if a Morris business would have priority over a business from Chokio.  Hill stated the federal government gave this money to the city to help businesses.  Hill indicated 95% of the business loans are done right here in Morris.  Hill stated one of his fears is that the federal government will take this money back if it is not getting used.    

Miller pointed out that these funds are gap financing.  Solvie stated he understands the money needs to be lent out, but feels the city is losing some control because they will no longer vote or know where the money goes.  Miller pointed out that the Mayor and City Manager sit on the SCEIC board.  Hill explained that it is just one extra step.  Solvie stated he understood that but the step was important to him.  Wohlers stated he feels there is a level of transparency that the taxpayers deserve.  Giese added that he could see Wohlersí point but it is not taxpayerís money. 

Hill explained that if the city keeps the funds, it is a lot of paperwork.  Hill noted that if the city doesnít trust the SCEIC to take care of the funds then why is the city a member with them.  Wohlers stated he would like to see the SCEIC give a quarterly report on the loan pool activities.   

Council member Wohlers moved, seconded by Miller, to adopt Resolution #3223-5-14, Resolution Setting a Public Hearing to Consider the Transfer of City of Morris MIF Funds to the SCEIC, and setting the hearing for 5:20 p.m. on May 27, 2014.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Approving a Sign Retroreflectivity Policy:  Hill stated state and federal regulations require the city to adopt this policy to insure that signs continue to have the necessary reflection at night. The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust is recommending that the city put a policy in place to protect the city from any future liability.  The city will do a visible check by inspecting signs at night.    

Council member Miller moved, seconded by Solvie, to adopt Resolution #3224-5-14, Resolution Approving a Sign Retroreflectivity Policy.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Rescinding Resolutions #3158-5-13 and #3159-5-13:  Hill stated in order to use state aid funds for the Oregon Avenue storm sewer project the municipal state aid highway system needs to be adjusted in a couple different places. 

Hill pointed out a requirement for state aid roads is that they need to be connected to other state aid roads.  In order to do that the city is proposing to add East 5th Street from Atlantic to California Avenue.  The other addition will connect Oregon Avenue from East 5th Street to South Street.

Council member Storck moved, seconded by Miller, to adopt Resolution #3225-5-14, Resolution Rescinding Resolutions #3158-5-13 and #3159-5-13.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Establishing Municipal State Aid Route 115:  Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Wohlers, to adopt Resolution #3226-5-14, Resolution Establishing Municipal State Aid Route 115.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Establishing Municipal State Aid Route 117:  Council member Storck moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to adopt Resolution #3227-5-14, Resolution Establishing Municipal State Aid Route 117.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONSNuisance Notification Requirements:  Hill stated some questions were raised at the last meeting about notifications for junk and nuisance matters.  Hill presented the council with a list of the ordinances from the city code dealing with grass, snow shoveling, junk, sump pumps and diseased trees.  Hill explained that the city code is not consistent about the length and process of notifying property owners about a violation.  Hill added that if the city wants property owners to pay for work the city would do they have to be given written notice.  Hill stated he feels that what the city is doing for time limits is adequate except when it comes to shoveling snow.  City Attorney Jordan stated snow shoveling is the one case where the city wouldnít need to give notice because it constitutes an emergency. 

Jordan explained that failure to comply with these items starts with administrative fines and penalties but noted there could be a lot of angry people. 

There was considerable discussion as to how to handle snow removal along main street when business owners push their snow into the street after the plow has already gone by.     

Hill informed the council that an intern from the Center for Small Towns would be working on a project to see where the city has sidewalks and which ones need to be replaced.   Hill pointed out there is an ordinance that says you have to maintain your sidewalk. 

Bleachers and Picnic Table Rentals:  Council member Storck moved, seconded by Solvie, for the city to stop renting out bleachers and picnic tables.  The existing picnic tables will be distributed to the various parks for us.  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 6:44 p.m.

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