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MINUTES - MORRIS CITY COUNCIL - REGULAR MEETING - APRIL 28, 2020

The regular meeting of the Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 28th day of April, 2020, by Mayor Giese.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE: The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

ROLL CALL: Roll call was taken with the following members present: Council members Wohlers, Solvie, Gullickson, Miller and Mayor Giese were present via Zoom. Also present was City Manager Hill in the Council Chambers. City Attorney Jordan and Finance Director Raasch also appeared via Zoom.

ADDITON TO AGENDA: Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Wohlers, to approve the addition of two items under the Consent Agenda - an Application for an On Sale 3.2 Malt Beverage License and an Application for Exempt Permit from the Assumption Catholic Church. Upon a roll call vote taken and all voting in favor, motion carried.

CITIZEN'S COMMENTS: None

PUBLIC HEARING: None

READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES: 4/14/20 Regular Meeting Minutes: Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Miller, to approve the 4/14/20 regular meeting minutes. Upon a roll call vote taken, motion carried.

4/14/20 Condensed Version: Council member Gullickson moved, seconded by Wohlers, to approve the 4/14/20 condensed version minutes. Upon a roll call vote taken, 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. Application for On Sale Malt Beverage License - Assumption Catholic Church

C. Application for Exempt Permit - Assumption Catholic Church

Motion carried.

PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND COMMUNICATIONS : Accept Donation for Improvements at PDT Park: Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Wohlers, to accept a donation of $2,500 as a memorial to Pam and Brad Heil for benches and other improvements along the bike path at PDT Park. Motion carried.

ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS: Resolution Authorizing the Use of MIF Funds Countywide:

Hill stated the City transferred its MN Investment Funds (MIF) to the SCEIC in 2014 and 2015 with the stipulation they only be used in Morris. Hill explained as chair of the SCEIC board he was approached with an idea that the Morris Industrial Development Corporation form a loan pool to provide assistance to businesses through these COVID times. Hill noted that Cheryl Kuhn, director of the SCEIC, suggested that an additional $50,000 from MIF funds be added to make it a $100,000 loan pool and possibly seek additional donations. Hill noted that the MIF funds that were transferred over several years ago had one caveat tied to them and that was that they could only be used in the City of Morris. Hill stated since the SCEIC assists everyone in the county it is a good idea to make these funds of $100,000 available county wide, with the goal of not seeing any businesses in Stevens County be lost due to COVID. The EDA would have to remove the same stipulation.

Wohlers stated this is the second time the council has talked about opening up this money and making it accessible beyond the city limits. Hill noted at that time it was only talked about when the funds were moved and the council in general felt adamant about keeping that money in the City. Wohlers stated businesses up and down main street of Morris are struggling and he doesn't want to short change businesses in the City of Morris. Wohlers added that he does not feel the council has been kept up to date with quarterly reports on what happened with that money when it was turned over.

Mayor Giese stated he understands where Wohlers is coming from and at the time, he agreed that the money should stay in Morris, but the amount being considered is not a lot. Giese indicated there is a lot of money in the fund that could still be loaned out to Morris businesses. Giese felt the reason the council isn't getting reports is that there really is not a lot going on but a report would be good. Giese stated keeping it in Morris is not as big of a deal as he originally thought. Hill explained that this is a new fund and it's only taking $50,000, with over $400,000 remaining in the MIF fund.

Solvie indicated if it's only removing the stipulation on $50,000 of that money he would agree with it. Solvie stated other people being able to borrow it throughout the county is a good idea.

Hill explained that the funds were originally from the federal government, the money never came from the city itself. Hill stated he feels this is the strongest economic improvement commission the county has had since he's been here and everybody is working together. The focus is on businesses and this would be a little bit of money that can maybe help a business get over a hump.

Wohlers noted he doesn't want to short change the City of Morris for any opportunities that may come down the road. Hill pointed out any business that creates jobs and brings in revenue in the county is good for everybody. Wohlers stated he was not comfortable going ahead with this when Morris may be looking at half as many businesses along main street. Wohlers asked what the county's involvement was in this and if they would be making a donation. Hill tried to explain that the city isn't making a donation, these funds originated from the federal and state government and were never taken from the city coffers. Hill recommended that the council not act on this if they are not in favor of it and hopefully no businesses in the county get shorted.

Considerable discussion was held on whether or not to turn over $50,000 of the MIF funds and remove the stipulation.

Council member Miller stated he thinks it makes sense to use it county wide during these times and he doesn't see a problem going ahead with it. Solvie stated he thinks the money is being underutilized and the stipulation needs to come off. Solvie noted it would be good to get it out in circulation and get it used.


Wohlers asked what happens if someone comes along and there is no money in Morris to help them. Hill pointed out that would be the best problem to ever have and then the city would ask for more funds. The government won't even consider allocations now because the city doesn't use the money they have. Wohlers would like assurance that if someone in Morris needs the money it will be there. Miller stated that COVID 19 is here now and if the city can help someone it needs to do that without waiting to see if someone down the road will need it.

Council member Miller moved, seconded by Solvie, to adopt Resolution #3689-4-20, Upon a roll call vote taken and Solvie, Miller and Mayor Giese voting in favor and Wohlers and Gullickson voting against, motion carried.

Resolution Authorizing Advertising for Bids for Phase 1 of the Airport Runway Extension Project:

Hill explained in order to apply for a federal airport grant the city needs to have a bid first. The bid opening is set for June 3rd at 2:00 p.m. with the deadline for the grant application being June 15th. Hill indicated the city has an agreement with Superior to pay the local share of the project and they are still committed to going forward with this.

Council member Gullickson moved, seconded by Miller, to adopt Resolution #3690-4-20, Resolution Authorizing Advertising for Bids for Phase 1 of the Airport Runway Extension Project. Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS : City Manager Newsletter: Hill noted the city is waiting for what the governor is going to say at the end of week with regard to the stay at home order. Hill indicated that as of right now the city is not allowed to open the campground. Giese suggested starting discussions on how the city is going to proceed if the parks are opened. Discussion was held on sanitizing the parks if they were to open and what the city is required to do to protect themselves.

OTHER BUSINESS: None

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS: None

ADJOURNMENT: There being no further business, Mayor Giese adjourned the meeting at 6:15 p.m.

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