City Council  |  Contact the City  |  Home

MINUTES - MORRIS CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING - AUGUST 8, 2017

The regular meeting of the Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 8th day of August, 2017, 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, Gullickson, Miller and Mayor Giese. Also present was City Manager Hill, Police Chief Tiegs, Public Works Director Dittbenner, Fire Chief Dybdal and City Attorney Jordan.

ADDITION TO AGENDA: Mayor Giese added to the agenda a Motion to Approve a Tourism Display Backdrop and Approval of a DNR Forestry Grant for the Fire Department.

 

CITIZEN'S COMMENTS: Introduction of New Police Officer - John Ophoven: Police Chief Tiegs introduced new officer John Ophoven. City Attorney Jordan administered the oath of office to Ophoven.

 

Jan Broemmelhaus - German Exchange Student: Broemmelhaus stated he has been an intern for five months working with the Office of Sustainability at UMM and the WCROC. Broemmelhaus gave an update on his time here in Morris and what he has been working on.

 

Marty Siefert - CGMC: Siefert was present at the meeting and discussed all the work done to get the funding for the water plant and how exciting it was to see that come to fruition. Siefert reviewed the outcome of the 2017 CGMC priorities from the legislative session. Siefert invited the council to attend the CGMC fall conference in Alexandria in November where they will be talking about priorities for the 2018 session.

 

Fire Chief Dybdal - New cutter: Dybdal brought the new TNT brute force cutter to the meeting to show the council. Dybdal noted the cutter is an important life-saving tool if someone is trapped in a vehicle.

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS: None

 

READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES: 7/25/17 Regular City Council Meeting Minutes: Council member Miller moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to approve the 7/25/17 regular meeting minutes. Motion carried.

 

7/25/17 Condensed Version Minutes: Council member Wohlers moved, seconded by Solvie, to approve the 7/25/17 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 #3 - Parallel Taxiway

C. Pay Estimate #5 - Oregon Avenue

D. July Transit Report

E. Gambling Report

Motion carried. A discrepancy in the bill for air packs for the Fire Department was discussed.

PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND COMMUNICATIONS: Temporary On Sale Liquor License from the American Legion: Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Gullickson, to approve the temporary on sale liquor license from the American Legion. Upon a roll call vote being taken and all present voting in favor and Mayor Giese abstaining as an officer of the Legion, motion carried.

 

Morris Fire Department DNR Grant: Council member Miller moved, seconded by Wohlers, to approve the DNR matching grant of $2,500 for the fire department. Motion carried. Fire Chief Dybdal stated they are looking at using the money for some new bunker boots.

 

Motion to Approve Tourism Display Backdrop: Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Wohlers, to approve the purchase of the tourism backdrop for promotional opportunities. Motion carried.

 

ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS: Resolution Approving a School Resource Officer Agreement for the 2017-2018 School Year: Police Chief Tiegs stated there is a slight increase from last year which includes wages and insurance. Tiegs noted the school is excited to know the department wants to do this again. Tiegs indicated there were 268 calls for service last year and that's 268 times he didn't have to send an officer to the school because there was already one there. Tiegs noted there are many things officer Liebl does that you can't quantify.

 

Council member Wohlers moved, seconded by Mayor Giese to adopt Resolution #3496-8-17, Resolution Approving a School Resource Officer for the 2017-2018 School Year. Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

 

Resolution Authorizing Execution of MN DOT Grant Agreement for Airport Improvement Excluding Land Acquisition: Hill indicated this is for the $25,000 MN DOT share for the master plan for the airport.

 

Council member Miller moved, seconded by Gullickson, to adopt Resolution #3497-8-17, Resolution Authorizing Execution of MN DOT Grant Agreement for Airport Improvement Excluding Land Acquisition. Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

 

Resolution Approving a Professional Services - Dispatching Agreement with Stevens County:

Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Wohlers, to adopt Resolution #3498-8-17, Resolution Approving a Professional Services - Dispatching Agreement with Stevens County. Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Water Treatment Plant Funding and Resolution Accepting the Offer of the MN Public Facilities Authority to Purchase a G.O. Water Revenue Note of 2017: City Manager Hill explained that there are three parts to the funding for the water treatment plant. There are two grants, one from the Water Infrastructure Fund for $5 million and the other of $7 million from the Point Source Implementation Grant. Hill stated the third part is a loan from the MN Public Facilities Authority, done through the sale of a general obligation water revenue note. The note would be in the amount of $6,381,820. The amount of the loan will only be what the city actually ends up drawing out and included in that amount is the required mandated contingency.

 

 

Water Treatment Plant Funding and Resolution Accepting the Offer of the MN Public Facilities Authority to Purchase a G.O. Water Revenue Note of 2017: (continued)

Hill reviewed the history leading up to where things stand with DENCO II and recommended that the city not ask for any funding from DENCO II. Hill pointed out it is very important to understand the role that DENCO II played in getting the funding for the plant.

 

Wohlers noted he does not feel comfortable with the way things went down. Wohlers stated for the last two years he was under the impression that DENCO II would be buying into the plant and at the 11th hour found out that they're not. Wohlers stated he is shocked and disappointed that the city has to borrow more money because of that. Hill explained, the idea wasn't that DENCO II was putting money in, they were going to prepay for what they were going to use with lower rates.

 

Solvie stated that his understanding of the contribution from DENCO II was that it was a capital contribution which he thought meant paying for a portion of the building. Discussion took place with regards to percentage of the project tied to DENCO II, construction rates, operation and maintenance rates. Also discussed was the deal the city of Alberta got buying into the old plant and then paying less of a rate for water. Solvie suggested that DENCO II could simply pay in the 13% for the upsizing of the plant and then pay operation and maintenance costs. Hill stated that the 13% was for just the upsizing due to DENCO II and that they still need a portion of the rest of the plant which makes it more confusing.

 

Wohlers then asked that the city's rates be reviewed because he doesn't feel it is fair to a business owner to pay the same rate as a residential customer. Wohlers stated there are not a lot of businesses knocking down the doors to come to Morris so he feels they should have a break in their rates.

 

Hill stated if business owners are given a break then the residential customers rates are going to go up. Council member Miller stated he feels it's a part of doing business and why should he have to pay more to help somebody who owns a business. Giese acknowledged that he understands what Wohlers is saying, to a point, but this is the wrong venue to talk about lightening the load for businesses. Wohlers stated the increase is going to be a burden with a pretty significant impact. Miller added it will also be a burden for an elderly person on a fixed income. Gullickson stated she doesn't believe the employees working at the businesses would appreciate the increase either.

 

Considerable discussion took place on DENCO II and whether or not the city should have a tiered rate system for water.

 

Solvie then stated that he wasn't sure where the negotiations between DENCO II and the city stood. Hill stated the most recent status was that DENCO II will not be required to pay anything up front and that they would pay cost for water like everyone else. Solvie then turned to Mick Miller, the Manager of DENCO II, and asked him if that is what he understood.

 

Mick Miller stated the problem with trying to work this out at the 12th hour, whether it was at the Minnesota Capitol or here, is that there are three years of moving parts. Miller stated when the bonding bill failed the city was 212th on the list. Costs continued to grow and $800,000 of the city's money was spent on engineering. Miller stated in the end project costs went through

Water Treatment Plant Funding and Resolution Accepting the Offer of the MN Public Facilities Authority to Purchase a G.O. Water Revenue Note of 2017: (continued)

the roof. Miller explained the Morris Area Clean Water Coalition, which was a group of concerned business owners, funded a large percentage of the costs involved in lobbying for a new plant. Miller noted he and Hill attended over 40 meetings, with everyone working day and

night, in the hopes that the law that was written in the bonding bill would secure Morris at the highest possible amount of funding. Miller indicated 66% of the plant is now covered from those joint efforts. Miller stated ideally they would like to put money in if there was an opportunity for a significantly reduced water rate, but if that water rate only drops by a small amount it makes no sense to put the deposit down. Miller noted it is complicated and it has been a frustrating process dealing with large numbers that will have a huge impact on their business and the residents of Morris. Miller stated, based on their calculations, with the average amount of salt being used by residents and the increase in rates it will be a net break even. Miller noted the city will have very good soft water, after having some of the worst water quality in the state of MN. Miller pointed out that 2/3 of this massive water plant is getting paid for in large part due to City Manager Hill's leadership.

 

Solvie stated one of his biggest concerns is that he wants to make sure the city has treated DENCO II fairly and there is no animosity between DENCO and the city.

 

Mick Miller noted they spend half a million dollars a year locally in Morris and feel they're an important part of the community that provides 35 very good quality jobs.

 

Council member Miller moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to adopt Resolution #3499-8-17, Resolution Accepting the Offer of the MN Public Facilities Authority to Purchase a $6,381,820 G.O. Water Revenue Note of 2017. Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

 

CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONS: Joint City/County Commission: Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Wohlers, to direct City Manager Hill to contact Stevens County to set up a meeting to discuss a possible resolution that could be passed by both governing bodies to establish a joint city/county commission on possible sharing opportunities. Furthermore, City Manager Hill and Council members Wohlers and Solvie were selected to participate in the meeting. Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

 

City Manager Newsletter: This was informational for the council.

 

OTHER BUSINESS: None

 

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS: Financial Services Statement with EideBailly: Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Miller, to approve the financial services statement with EideBailly. Motion carried.

 

ADJOURNMENT: There being no further business, Mayor Giese adjourned the meeting at 7:06 p.m.

Website Services by Iceberg.