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MINUTES - MORRIS CITY COUNCIL - REGULAR MEETING - SEPTEMBER 22, 2020

The regular meeting of the Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 22nd day of September, 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, Miller, Gullickson and Mayor Giese were present via Zoom.  Also present via Zoom was Finance Director Raasch and Police Chief Welle.  City Manager Hill was present via Zoom from the Council Chambers.

ADDITION TO AGENDA:  Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Wohlers, to add to the agenda an Application for Exempt Permit from Assumption Church.  Motion carried.

CITIZEN'S COMMENTS:  Mary Elizabeth Bezanson was present at the Council Chambers to express her dissatisfaction with the bathrooms being closed at East Side Park.  Bezanson stated she was informed it was because the bathrooms had been vandalized too many times.  Bezanson indicated the constituents are the ones being punished and suggested an increase in police presence when there are youths in the park to discourage vandalism.  Hill noted the parks department is getting ready to turn water off for the season anyway.

Council member Solvie suggested citizens police the area and help out the Police Department. 

The council discussed putting up cameras by the bathrooms.  It was the consensus of the council that the bathrooms should be open if possible. 

PUBLIC HEARING:  None

READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES9/8/20 Regular Meeting Minutes:  Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Gullickson, to approve the 9/8/20 regular meeting minutes.  Motion carried.

9/8/20 Condensed Version:  Council member Miller moved, seconded by Wohlers, to approve the 9/8/20 condensed version minutes.  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.             8/18/20 Planning Commission Minutes

C.             5/13/20 & 7/8/20 Library Board Minutes

D.            Gambling Report

E.             Application for Exempt Permit – Assumption Church

Motion carried.

PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND COMMUNICATIONSAppoint Melanie Fohl to Planning Commission:  Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Wohlers, to appoint Melanie Fohl to the Planning Commission.  Motion carried.

Detail of CARES Act Funds Used:  This was informational for the council.

ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONSResolution Approving the Preliminary 2020 Tax Levy for Collection in 2021:  City Manager Hill reviewed the 2020 preliminary budget. Hill stated the city may not know until May or June of next year what will happen with LGA.  Hill indicated the preliminary budget shows a 3% increase, which is only for planning purposes.  Hill anticipated the final levy would be frozen by December. 

Hill noted work comp and liability insurance is going up.  Health insurance costs are unknown at this time but the budget includes a 10% increase.  A pleasant surprise is that the city has received some good bond interest rates and done some refinancing which results in about $100,000 of flexibility in debt service.  There is a 0% increase in wages for next year, other than the normal step increases.  Hill stated the loader is paid off, but is recommending replacement of the other loader because it is important to maintain equipment for city operations.    

Council member Miller moved, seconded by Wohlers to adopt Resolution #3708-9-20, Resolution Approving the Preliminary 2020 Tax Levy for Collection in 2021.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Adopting the Preliminary 2021 Budget for the City of Morris:  Hill stated this budget resolution sets the final budget hearing for December 8th at 6:00 p.m.  Hill reviewed some highlights of the 2021 budget, which include:

       The budget includes a major increase in work comp insurance costs.  There are two major work comp claims right now.

       This budget includes the same work force numbers.  There is another budget that looks at the what ifs but most of the workforce is allocated to areas where they can't be cut and the city doesn't have a large number of employees anyway. 

       There is no new bond levy for 2021, but probably will be for 2022.

       Liquor store revenues are projected to keep increasing.

       The fire relief benefit is increased from $2,200 to $2,250.

       The budget includes $200,000 allocated for funding of private sidewalk improvements.  The city would establish an assessment program where residents could petition to have their sidewalks replaced. 

       Water rates may need to be adjusted in 2021. 

Hill noted Jordan Staples from the Morris Hockey Association would be at the next meeting to discuss a donation of $25,000 for the hockey arena.    

Council member Wohlers moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to adopt Resolution #3709-9-20, Resolution Adopting the Preliminary 2021 Budget for the City of Morris.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried. 

Resolution to Execute MN DOT Grant Agreement for Airport Improvement Excluding Land Acquisition:  Council member Gullickson moved, seconded by Miller, to adopt Resolution #3810-9-20, Resolution to Execute 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 Appointing Judges for the State General Election, November 3, 2020:  Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Gullickson, to adopt Resolution #3811-9-20, Resolution Appointing Judges for the State General Election, November 3, 2020.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATIONSCity Manager Newsletter:  Hill informed the council he has received complaints about the liquor store and customers not wearing masks.  Hill stated the question is what to do when people don't wear a mask and will not wear a mask.  Customers are coming into businesses and addressing other customers because they're not wearing one and then the poor clerks wind up dealing with the people that are upset.

Hill explained it is a requirement to wear a mask but questioned if a person should be denied service if they come in the liquor store without one.  Hill noted the city has to do everything it can to try to make people comply but when you get to a point where there's going to be a confrontation that shouldn't happen.  Hill pointed out it was never the Governor's intention to site people for not wearing masks.  Hill indicated if someone comes into the library without one they then encourage them to wear a mask the next time they come.  Hill stated his recommendation is to put some masks in the lobby of the liquor store, encourage people to use them and have signage drawn up as to whom to contact if people are unhappy with what is happening. 

Solvie stated he is not in favor of any kind of fine for anyone not wearing a mask.  The council agreed with Hill's recommendation of masks and education.  Anyone who has a problem can contact City Manager Hill. 

OTHER BUSINESS:  Council member Wohlers had a landlord approach him and wondered if water bills had to stay in the landlord's name.  Finance Director Raasch explained that the bills must remain in the landlord's name but can be sent to the tenant at their request.  There is no control to assess an unpaid bill if it is not in the owners name.  Raasch pointed out a landlord can call city hall at any time and find out the amount of a bill.    

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS:  None

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Mayor Giese adjourned the meeting at 6:38p.m.

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