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MINUTES - MORRIS CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING - NOVEMBER 14, 2017

The regular meeting of the Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 14th day of November, 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, Finance Director Raasch, Police Chief Tiegs, Public Works Director Dittbenner and Head Librarian Barber.

CITIZEN'S COMMENTS: Introduction of New Police Officer: Chief of Police Tiegs introduced new officer Kyle Brundage. Mayor Giese administered the Oath of Office to Officer Brundage.

 

Tiegs, acting as a member of the Salvation Army advisory committee, extended an invitation to local politicians and asked if they would be willing to do some bell ringing for those less fortunate. Tiegs noted all of the money raised from the kettle campaign stays in Stevens County and helps with various local programs.

 

Storm Sewer Assessment Dispute: Cory and Shelley Evink, 386 South Highway 9, were present at the meeting to discuss their storm sewer assessment. Evink stated he talked with City Manager Hill about the run off area on the land they own behind the apartment building. Evink stated the map shows that it drains into Thomas Street and in the case of a 5" rain it spills over their holding pond and drains down to Thomas. Evink noted they have a lot of trees and a holding area, which is more of a rain garden, and then water runs across the grassy area of the Apostolic Church where there is filtration and absorption. Evink indicated it is hard to get an exact number on how much is actually draining all the way to Thomas Street. Evink stated they are willing to pay for their part but don't feel they use it like the people on the street and they are asking for a discount on the entire storm water assessment. Evink asked if Thomas Street would be redone in the future if they would be on the hook again for an assessment. Evink stated with the amount of their assessment it's getting to where their property isn't going to be favorable to own anymore.

 

Shelley Evink noted as a special assessment it should benefit them in that amount. Shelley stated that Blaine Hill said at the November 22nd meeting, that according to Nagel Appraisal it would raise the benefit of the value of a property anywhere from $9,000-$13,000 if all the improvements were done. Shelley pointed out they only had one thing done and it's almost $9,000. The parcel of land is only valued at $26,200 on their tax statement according to Shelley. Shelly pointed out their property has already been assessed for the Columbia Avenue storm sewer. Shelley reiterated that they're not trying to get out of this on a technicality; they just want to pay their fair share.

 

City Manager Hill explained that Jeff Kuhn and WSN went out and surveyed this area. Hill presented two maps of the area to the council, one of an aerial view and the other a survey map. Hill noted Evinks own three parcels of land and approximately 57,000 square feet is included in the assessment Hill indicated Columbia Avenue already had a special assessment of $4,700 for their property that drains in to that area. Hill pointed out that none of that land is considered part of this project, only the area that goes down into Thomas Street.

Hill clarified that Jeff Kuhn did go out and survey the area and determined that all the square footage of the assessed area drains into Thomas Street based upon the elevations. Hill stated there are some defining features on the map which indicate part of the property drains to Thomas and part drains to Columbia. The Fischer property drains to the south towards Birch Avenue. Hill explained that the system the city has in place for figuring out special assessments does give, in some cases, a credit for property that is undeveloped in open spaces and Kuhn relayed that information to Cory. Hill stated after talking with Kuhn it was decided it was reasonable that about half of Evinks 57,000 square feet could be eligible for a credit, which reduced their assessment to $8,028.54.

 

Hill indicated it is true that in the initial assessment hearing discussion took place about appraisals and what the value of a lot might be if it had all of the improvements. Hill noted that referred to a standard lot size and with Evinks that is not the case because this property has a lot of land. Hill stated the city receives a general appraisal letter to get an idea of what the value of a particular assessment is going to be to a piece a property. If there is an appeal the city would hire an appraiser to see what the value was before and after the improvement. Hill noted obviously drainage is important because if a property can't be drained a person wouldn't have the full use and value of it. Hill acknowledged that as far as a remedy there has to be some kind of methodology for why you do it. Hill stated, in his opinion, what is fair is to charge an assessment on square footage that drains into the system. Hill indicated he thinks the adjustment that was made was fair and he doesn't have any other criteria to adjust it anymore. Hill confirmed that the assessment for West Central Christian Homes was one of the biggest in this project at well over $40,000 for their storm water drainage. The Apostolic Christian Church was about $30,000 for their drainage, but they did get a slight credit because it is mostly grassy area.

 

Cory stated he met with Kuhn and they walked the property to try and find where the spill over area is and they never got to it. Cory commented that Kuhn said he had a legitimate argument. Shelley stated if you look on the elevation map the elevations actually go uphill. Hill stated there is no drainage ditch that takes the water so it has to go over land. Shelley argued that there is evaporation, absorption and trees that pick up the water.

 

Council member Gullickson asked what formula was used for the initial credit for Evinks. Hill stated half the 57,000 square feet was credited with a .8 reduction.

 

Mayor Giese asked if additional storm sewer would be put in when Thomas Street is eventually done. Hill indicated there would be underground storm sewer eventually but he doesn't anticipate that road would be dug up for at least 15 years. Hill commented that this is a single family residential area and to have a parcel this big in a project is out of the ordinary.

 

Solvie stated in looking at the elevations he is having a hard time not agreeing with Evinks where the water is finding its way out. Solvie indicated there maybe needs to be some sort of consideration for that fact and discounted based on the retention.

 

Considerable discussion was held on where the storm water drains off of the property.

Mayor Giese questioned how much the absorption rate would be for how much water is sucked up by trees compared to the open grassy area next door. Shelley presented a handout to the council about the percentage of storm water that is picked up by trees. Gullickson stated she understands where they're coming from but the city can't look at every tree on every property and there has to be a formula that the city uses. Solvie agreed that there has to be a methodology to this.

 

Giese asked Evinks what they had in mind for a reduction. Cory stated he would be happy to settle on something around half of the assessment cost.

 

Miller proposed a 20% reduction on the whole property in fairness to everyone on the project. Hill noted applying the credit to the whole area would bring it down by another $900, but to go beyond that there's no science to tie it back to unless you look at the trees but that whole neighborhood is full of big, beautiful trees. Solvie noted he would like to see a little bit more than a 20% reduction.

 

The council discussed at length if an additional credit should be applied and how it should be calculated.

 

Giese stated he likes a different reduction for some sort of forest. Giese stated if a 20% reduction is for grassland, an equal amount for trees makes sense. It was noted a 40% reduction would bring the assessment somewhere close to $5,000.

 

Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Solvie, to apply a 40% reduction on the assessed property because of the wooded area and the major size of the parcel and to direct City Manager Hill to figure out the exact number. Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS: None

 

READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES: 10/24/17 Regular City Council Meeting Minutes: Council member Miller moved, seconded by Gullickson, to approve the 10/24/17 regular meeting minutes. Motion carried.

 

10/24/17 Condensed Version Minutes: Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Wohlers, to approve the 10/24/17 condensed version minutes. Motion carried.

 

ADDITION TO AGENDA: Mayor Giese added Pay Estimate #3 for the water treatment facility to the agenda.

 

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. October Transit Report

C. 9/14/17 & 10/25/17 Tree Board Minutes

D. Pay Estimate #3 - Magney Construction (Water Treatment Facility)

Motion carried.

PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND COMMUNICATIONS: None

 

ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS: Resolution Revoking Rental Housing Licenses for Non-
Compliance
: Melanie Fohl of the Stevens County HRA was present at the meeting to request that two rental licenses be revoked. Fohl asked that 305 West 8th Street, owned by Jamie Swenson, be revoked for non-compliance with completing repairs. Fohl indicated there is no heat to the 2nd floor bedrooms and he has been given several deadlines. Fohl noted this has been going on for years and they have been very patient and it's time to revoke the license.

 

The second license is for 101 East 8th Street owned by David and Wendy Lindberg. Fohl stated they have also been working with them for years. Fohl noted she thought this property was vacant but there is someone living there and they haven't paid the license fees or done any of the required repairs.

 

Fohl recommended the license for the property at 306 West 11th Street not be revoked as they have made some of the repairs and new windows are supposed to be in on November 21st .

 

Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Miller, to adopt Resolution #3523-11-17, Resolution Revoking Rental Housing Licenses for Non-Compliance. Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

 

Mayor Giese asked what happens after the revocation. Fohl explained that the license can be reinstated, but there is a fee for having that done. Fohl noted a letter would be sent to the property owner in which they would be given a certain amount of time to have their tenants move out or bring the rental into compliance. Fohl indicated they have to allow the notice period for a tenant to expire and if they continue to rent without taking care of the compliance issues it will be reported to the City Attorney's office for violation of the ordinance.

 

CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONS: City Manager Newsletter: This was informational for the council.

 

OTHER BUSINESS: Hill noted that County Auditor Amanda Barsness would be coming to the next meeting to talk about new voting machines.

 

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS: None

 

ADJOURNMENT: There being no further business, Mayor Giese adjourned the meeting at 6:31 p.m.

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