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The regular meeting of the Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 1st day of November, 2016, 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 to the agenda a Resolution Appointing City Manager Blaine Hill as the Responsible Authority for Data Practices. 


CITIZENŐS COMMENTS:  Introduction of New Police Officer:  Police Chief Tiegs introduced the new police officer Melissa Miller and administered the ceremonial oath of office. 


Officer Reggie Welle was also present at the meeting.  Tiegs stated Officer Welle has been with the department 9 years.  Tiegs explained Welle has worked on coordinating the Field Training Officer program which is a tremendous amount of work, and on top of that Welle has requested to be involved in the investigative process.  Tiegs indicated the immediate plan is to spread the investigative process out between Officers Nelson, Liebl and and soon to be specialist Welle. Tiegs stated with the approval of the Civil Service Commission and the City Manager he is promoting Welle to corporal, which is a specialist position.   Tiegs presented Welle with his pin.      


PUBLIC HEARINGS:  Resolution Adopting Assessments in Conjunction with the Oregon Avenue Improvement Project:  Mayor Giese opened the public hearing at 5:20 p.m.


City Manager explained that one of the purposes of this hearing is to make sure that property owners understand this is a step in the process, and if a property owner is not happy with the process they have the right to appeal the assessment to district court.  Hill noted that in order to reserve the right to appeal, written objection must be presented by the end of the public hearing.    


Jeff Kuhn of WSN was present at the meeting to review the project.  Kuhn indicated the project is nearing completion with just the final lift of asphalt, seeding and striping to be done in the spring.  This fall the boulevards are being shaped up and mailboxes being put back in.  Kuhn stated all in all the project went fairly well with just a little bit of delays here and there, which is bound to happen with a project this size.  Kuhn stated the project was a major storm sewer improvement for the City of Morris.  The total project cost was just shy of $2.1 million.  Of that $2.1 million just over $1.5 million is paid for by state aid and federal dollars.  The remaining $566,000 is the city's local share, of which a portion will be assessed.  Kuhn stated the assessments include water connections and storm sewer.  The street, curb and gutter and sidewalk is all being paid by state or federal monies.


Kuhn explained water costs are $4,260 per service.  The total storm sewer was just shy of $700,000.  State and federal monies picked up $370,000.  The remaining $305,000 was broken out into a cost per square foot ($.007) of the drainage area being collected into the system.  Kuhn added that there are a lot of far reaching areas that drain into the system. 


Resolution Adopting Assessments in Conjunction with the Oregon Avenue Improvement Project:  (continued)

Kuhn showed a map of the storm sewer area. 


Karen Berget, 410 East 3rd Street, presented the council with a letter requesting that her property be removed from the assessment.  Berget stated there is a hill in Morris that goes from East 1st Street to 6th Street.  Berget explained that if you go east on 3rd Street past Oregon Avenue you have to go past California, Colorado and then up a hill to Montana.  When you get to Montana, at the crest of the hill, and keep going east you would go downhill again and her property is east of Montana Avenue.  Berget pointed out she is downhill quite a ways from what would run off into this project.  Berget stated that reason alone should count, but in addition, sheŐs already been assessed twice for storm sewer work that the city has done.  The first time was on the Columbia Avenue project and again 3-4 years later when the City did East 2nd Street.  Berget stated it didnŐt seem fair that she was getting assessed a second time so the engineer at the time, Jay Fier, walked the area with her and explained how the water would go down 2nd Street.  Berget stated she finds it difficult to believe that her water runs uphill over Montana Avenue into the Oregon Avenue storm sewer when she has already paid twice.


Kuhn noted Berget brings up a valid concern and he would take a look at it.  However, Kuhn pointed out it is not unheard of that a property get assessed multiple times for storm sewer because that is the way the cityŐs storm sewer policy is set up. 


Rick Lahn, Superintendent of Morris Area Schools, was present at the meeting representing the taxpayers of Morris.  Lahn stated the district was assessed over $38,000 by the square footage of runoff.  Lahn asked if since their property runs off in four different directions if they were only assessed for the amount of square footage that actually runs into the Oregon Avenue project area.  Kuhn stated that is the belief based on available contour information.  Kuhn explained that they havenŐt surveyed individual lots but there is a topography map of the lay of the land as to where the water would drain.  Lahn requested a map of that area.  Kuhn suggested he and Lahn sit down together and take a look at the property and make any necessary adjustments. 


Lahn asked when a public entity like a school district becomes tax exempt from these kinds of things.  City Manager Hill stated this is one of the reasons the city does special assessments instead of a general tax levy, which is only paid for by those properties that are taxable.  Special assessments hit properties that are served by the infrastructure so schools and churches and non-profits that benefit from the improvements wind up being part of a special assessment project. 


Hill stated the assessments have to be turned over to the county in a certain amount of time so ultimately the question is whether to approve all the assessments as they are.  Hill recommended that none of the assessments be pulled off the list.  Hill noted there is an open period of 30 days in which to pay without interest. Hill indicated if an adjustment was necessary the city could go back and get an assessment removed before it would be turned over to the AssessorŐs office on December 1st.    





Resolution Adopting Assessments in Conjunction with the Oregon Avenue Improvement Project:  (continued)

Carol Wilcox, 210 Montana, stated she lives one block from BergetŐs and was also assessed for Columbia Avenue and East 2nd Street. Wilcox asked if there was ever a limit to how much a person could be charged for storm sewer.  Kuhn stated as long as the city's storm sewer system needs to be maintained it's hard to know.  Hill pointed out WilcoxŐs house is on top of the hill and parts of that lot drain in different directions.          


Joe Hesse, 405 East 4th Street, stated that like the BergetŐs he has been assessed twice based on the direction of flow of water.  Hesse showed a picture of the hill the water has to get up to get back down to Oregon Avenue.  Hill stated the engineer will take a look and be able to figure out if the water turns at 2nd Street and goes down to the University property instead of Oregon Avenue.  Hesse asked why he got assessed on 2nd Street if the engineer is saying the water goes down to South Street and drops into Oregon Avenue.  Hesse stated he feels he should get credited back if thatŐs the case but feels his water truly does not go down to South Street and into Oregon.


Considerable discussion was held on where the water drains.


JoAnn Volker, 210 Oregon Avenue, stated they are very happy with the new street.  Volker indicated it is beautiful and they are thankful for the good job.  Volker did express concern that her brand new sidewalk has some graffiti on it. 


Hill explained the process for paying the assessments.  Hill stated once the 30 days to pay without interest has passed, the assessments are certified to the county and they collect them through the tax system.  This is a 15 year special assessment at a rate of 4% interest.  


Hill noted that with regard to the storm sewer assessments, the city will do what's right after going back and looking at East 2nd Street.  Hill pointed out the person that was here for 30+ years has retired, so this is the first year the calculations are being done a different way. 


Hill added that an owner has the ability to apply for a deferment if they are over 62 and drawing social security.  The city would have to verify assets and income if someone was interested in applying for a deferment.  Hill reiterated that if someone wishes to reserve the right to appeal, the council would need something in writing before the end of the public hearing. 


Hill explained with regard to the graffiti on VolkerŐs sidewalk it is not the contractors responsibility.  Hill indicated it happened in other areas too and itŐs very unfortunate when you have a brand new sidewalk.  Kuhn suggested they could try some more cure on the sidewalk next spring.


Mayor Giese closed the public hearing at 6:15 p.m. and brought the matter back to the council for action.


Giese stated he feels the city will be fair for the properties that are being looked at and adjust them accordingly.  Solvie added that he is confident too and likes the fact that people showed up for the hearing and expressed their opinions.  Solvie stated the city will do whatŐs right and


Resolution Adopting Assessments in Conjunction with the Oregon Avenue Improvement Project:  (continued)

the council is just as much a part of the city as they are.  Solvie noted everyone is the city, the council is just helping to run it. 


Considerable discussion was held on a fee structure and project costs.  It was the consensus of the council and City Manager Hill that a fee structure is not the way to handle assessments. 


Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Wohlers, to adopt Resolution #3431-11-16, Resolution Adopting Assessments in Conjunction with the Oregon Avenue Improvement Project.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.


READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES:  10/25/16 Regular City Council Meeting Minutes:  Council member Wohlers moved, seconded by Council member Storck, to approve the 10/25/16 regular meeting minutes.  Motion carried.


10/25/16 Condensed Version Minutes:  Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Wohlers, to approve the 10/25/16 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.         Final Pay Estimate - Par Piping

            C.         Pay Estimate #4 - Riley Bros. Construction

            D.         Gambling Application - MN Deer Hunters

Motion carried.




ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS:  Resolution Appointing the City Manager Blaine Hill as the Responsible Authority for Data Practices:  Hill explained state law requires the city have a policy for data practices.  The city also needs to assign an authority for overseeing the policy.  Hill asked the council to designate him as the authority.  Hill noted there was a request made of the city for its policy, and the same request was made of every city in the State of MN because the individual is suing the City of Bloomington.  Hill stated the city is required to make public data available to the public. 


Council member Storck moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to adopt Resolution #3432-1-16, Resolution Appointing the City Manager Blaine Hill as the Responsible Authority for Data Practices.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.


CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONS:   Map of East 10th Street:  Hill explained that an issue came up last Friday on East 10th Street with a private sewer line that is collapsing.   It is a 4Ó line in the alley that collapsed and affected four houses on lots 7, 8, 9 and 10 of East 10th Street.  Hill indicated some old notes of Glen HelbergŐs were found which indicated that the house on lot 7 was probably built first and since East 10th Street wasnŐt there at the time the sewer was connected into the main.  As the other three houses were built they were connected into the first line by Lot 7.  Hill stated the plan is to have the houses on lots 8, 9 and 10 hook


Map of East 10th Street: (continued)

into the new sewer line on East 10th.  Hill noted Phil from Mohr Plumbing and Kirk Riley are working up some numbers.  Hill asked the council to pass a motion giving him the authority to accept a letter from the property owners petitioning the work to be done and to have it assessed against their properties.  Hill proposed a 15 year assessment with 4% interest.   


Council member Storck moved, seconded by Wohlers, to allow City Manager Hill to accept a letter from the property owners petitioning this work to be done along East 10th Street and to assess the costs against the properties.  Motion carried.


City Manager Report:  This was informational for the council.






ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Mayor Giese adjourned the meeting at 6:40 p.m.

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