REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY OF ALBERT LEA
December 12, 2016, 7:00 P.M.
PRESENT: Mayor Rasmussen Jr., Councilors Schulte V, Baker, Marin, Olson, Anderson, and Brooks. Also present were City Manager Chad Adams, City Attorney Lee Bjorndal, City Engineer Steven Jahnke and City Clerk Shirley Slater-Schulte.
The Mayor announced that the City received a Local Government Innovation Award from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. The School awarded the City for its Blue Zones Project.
CONSENT AND APPROVAL OF AGENDA
A. Approve Minutes Of The November 28, 2016 Regular Council Meeting
B. Approve Minutes Of The November 28, 2016 Work Session
C. Approve Minutes Of The December 1, 2016 Budget Work Session
D. Licenses & Permits (See Attached List)
E. Resolution Accepting Donations Presented To The City Of Albert Lea
F. Resolution Approving State Of Minnesota Joint Powers Agreement Regarding Internet Crimes Against Children
G. Resolution Accepting Bid And Awarding Contract For 2017 Chemical And Fuel Supplies
H. Resolution Ordering Preparation Of Feasibility Reports On Improvements For 2017
I. Resolution Supporting Grant Application To Southeast Service Cooperative On Behalf Of The City Of Albert Lea Wellness Committee
J. Amended Resolution Deferring Special Assessment For City Project 1557 Improvements Against Certain Property Based Upon Age Or Disability (P.I.D. 34- 040-0210)
MOTION: Move to approve the consent agenda.
Motion made by Councilor Baker, seconded by Councilor Brooks. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Schulte V, Baker, Marin, Olson, Anderson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 16-253-258 included with these minutes.)
PETITIONS, REQUESTS, AND COMMUNICATIONS
A. Albert Lea Splash Pad
Adams provided the Council with an update about the splash pad, noting that $118,355 has been raised. The project cost estimate is $150,000. He also displayed a PowerPoint slide showing the proposed location. He said the splash pad would be enclosed on the north and east sides, and that it could be moved slightly to the west. If that is done, a tree donated to the City would have to be relocated. Adams then described what a splash pad is, how it would function and a timeline for installation. He invited Susie Petersen of the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) to speak.
Petersen informed the Council that the CVB has sold clothing in a fundraising effort for the splash pad. She thanked the businesses and foundations that donated.
In response to a question from Marin, Adams reported that the Splash Pad Committee may approach the Council in January or February 2017 to formally order the project. Adams clarified that the $150,000 would not include any in-kind contributions from the City. Marin reminded the Council that the City informed the Committee that the project would not advance until all funds had been raised.
A. 2017 Budget – TRUTH IN TAXATION – Public Comment Session
Brutlag led the Council through a presentation of the 2017 budget. She noted the proposed budget includes general fund and debt levy would increase 1.29%. Adams talked about how the increased market value enlarged the tax base, and consequently, in most cases, City taxes would decrease for property owners. Adams added, responding to Baker, that staff is anticipating 2% growth in the tax base in future years. Brutlag then described how the tax rate is devised, dividing the tax capacity by the total levy. She juxtaposed the levy, tax capacity and tax rate from 2014 to 2017. Brutlag then detailed the expenditures and revenues of the city budget. She then highlighted the water and sewer fund as well as the solid waste, airport and senior center budgets. She told the Council that it is the intention of staff to adjust the water and sewer rates to be consistent with the recommendations provided in a study. This would result in a water rate that increases 7% in 2017. The proposed sewer rate increase is 1%. She then compared the water and sewer rates with other cities in the region.
Marin asked if the staff compares tax base increases to other cities’ water rate increases. Adams replied that this is difficult to do because tax base and water rates do not correlate directly to each other as each fund separate services in the community. Adams noted that population, local government aid, and assessment formulas also vary in each city. Adams suggested that the best example may be to compare the overall tax burden per capita in each city. He added that in a column he wrote in the Tribune that the average homeowner would see a decrease of $17 in property taxes and an increase of $24 in the water rate.
Marin spoke about how increases in water rates and taxes can adversely affect those on fixed incomes. Baker then asked whether the solid waste fund would break even and how it is funded. Brutlag said that may be possible, but would not have the data until January. Rasmussen added that the City offers hardship programs.
Gary Hagen, 501 Albert Lea St., informed the Council that the taxes on his home recently increased. He then read a statement reminding Council of fiscal responsibility and the burden taxes can be on personal finances.
Jim Nelson, 322 E. 11th Street, announced that as a result of his assessment, the taxes on his home rose 26.3%. Rasmussen offered to examine the assessment after the conclusion of the meeting.
1. Resolution 16-259 Establishing The Tax Levy For 2017
Adams explained that the City Council in September approved a preliminary levy of $6,360,543 for 2017. The levy being recommended for final adoption will be established at $6,236,269 (a lesser amount by $124,274 than what was proposed in September), with $4,758,453 for the General Fund operating levy and $1,477,816 for the debt service levy.
Motion was made by Councilor Schulte V and seconded by Councilor Brooks . On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Schulte V, Baker, Olson, Anderson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Councilor Marin voted nay. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 16-259
included with these minutes.)
2. Resolution 16-260 Approving Albert Lea Housing And Redevelopment Authority Property Tax Levy For Fiscal Year 2017
Adams explained that Council in September approved a preliminary property tax levy of $109,000. The maximum special levy as provided by Minnesota Statute 469.033 is $141,558 but Staff is recommending $109,000 or 77% of the maximum. Schulte commented that the City’s funding of the HRA has been beneficial to many parties and thanked the staff.
Motion was made by Councilor Brooks and seconded by Councilor Anderson. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Schulte V, Baker, Olson, Anderson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Councilor Marin voted nay. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 16-260
included with these minutes.)
3. Resolution 16-261 Adopting The 2017 General Fund Budget
Adams noted that the proposed 2017 General Fund budget being recommended for approval is $15,766,167 which is an approximate 3.97% increase over 2016.
Motion was made by Councilor Anderson and seconded by Councilor Brooks. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Schulte V, Baker, Olson, Anderson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Councilor Marin voted nay. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 16-261
included with these minutes.)
4. Resolution 16-262 Adopting The 2017-2021 Capital Improvement Plan
Adams explained that each year a five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is developed by staff for the City of Albert Lea, noting that long-range planning is a tool the City can successfully use in setting priorities for the community’s infrastructure improvement. He reviewed projects submitted for 2017 totaling $12,792,600, which include the Airport Arrival & Departure Building, East Water Tower Chlorine Building, replacement of air conditioning and dasher board systems at the Nystrom Arena, an addition to the Public Works Facility and other street overlay and reconstruction projects and utility system improvements.
Baker clarified that the vote was to adopt the plan, not approve all of the projects listed in the plan.
Motion was made by Councilor Schulte V and seconded by Councilor Olson. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Schulte V, Baker, Olson, Anderson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Councilor Marin voted nay. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 16-262
included with these minutes.)
5. Resolution 16-263 Adopting 2017 Fee Schedule
Adams explained that the fee schedule was formatted to provide a comparison between the 2016 schedule and proposed 2017. He noted new fees in 2017 include roofing, siding and window permits. Other fees adjusted include airport hangar rents, public skate, annual individual skate pass and slight increases to mixed solid waste disposal and water and sewer billing rates. Fees that were removed include Arena stage rental and Rock on Ice.
Brooks chronicled the discussion about the water and sewer rates. He then asked if the water rate could be decreased while still maintaining enough funding to complete water infrastructure projects. Adams responded that the City commissions a water and sewer rate every three years and that the City does not currently have sufficient funds to complete projects. He continued, saying that the water rate increase reflects a change in how the City pays for water infrastructure – that the fund itself should generate enough revenue to cover its costs, rather than using funds from a different source. The previous method of assessing via taxes may not be fair, as the water rate is a user fee, rather than a flat fee, like an assessment. Adams said that the water rate increase was reduced from 8%, as recommended by the rate study, to 7% and that the rate increase covers infrastructure maintenance as well as infrastructure replacement during street reconstruction.
Brooks clarified that the water rate increase would cost less than to bond for the projects. Rasmussen and Adams said that Brooks’s statement was accurate. Adams expanded, citing that large businesses with the Albert Lea may not use much water, but if the cost of the water infrastructure is moved to a property tax, the tax burden for that business increases significantly.
Baker asked Adams to elaborate on building up the water fund. Adams said that the utility funds should be self-sustaining, but currently, the water fund balance is only at one-third of annual operations and should be 100%. The sewer fund is self-sustaining and includes funding for existing and future projects.
The first motion for the adoption of the foregoing resolution adopting the proposed fee schedule, but omitting the proposed 2017 water and sewer rates, was duly seconded by Councilor Baker and upon a vote being taken thereon, the following voted in favor thereof: Councilors Schulte V, Baker, Olson, Anderson, Brooks, and Mayor Rasmussen. Councilor Marin voted nay. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
The second motion for the adoption of the foregoing resolution to approve the proposed water and sewer rates as listed in the proposed document was made by Councilor Brooks, duly seconded by Councilor Schulte V and upon a vote being taken thereon, the following voted in favor thereof: Councilors Schulte V, Baker, Olson, Anderson, and Mayor Rasmussen. Councilor Brooks and Marin voted nay. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 16-263
included with these minutes.)
6. Resolution 16-264 Establishing Fund Appropriations
Adams explained that while the City is not required to formally adopt budgets for other funds, staff recommends approving the expense budgets to provide more information and transparency to the public on spending for such funds. Fund appropriations being recommended for approval include the Water, Sewer, Solid Waste, Senior Center and Airport funds.
Motion was made by Councilor Schulte V and seconded by Councilor Olson. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Schulte V, Baker, Marin, Olson, Anderson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 16-264
included with these minutes.)
B. Ordinance 202,6d Approving Rezoning From I-1 Limited Industrial District To B-2 Community Business District For Property Described As Lot 1, Block 1, Bridgeport Fourth Addition (First Reading)
Adams explained that Cedar House Inc. is a clinic providing mental health services in Albert Lea for over 17 years and rezoning the property would make it consistent with adjacent lots and facilitate the development of a new facility in this location.
Mark Zeller of Cedar House spoke. He relayed that Cedar House has outgrown its current space and then explained the zoning of the current lots. He would like to combine the lots, make the zoning consistent and build a new facility. In response to Baker, Zeller said the organization plans to break ground in late spring or early summer. Zeller spoke about how much land in the area the organization currently owns and the services that Cedar House provides.
Motion was made by Councilor Marin and seconded by Councilor Anderson. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Schulte V, Baker, Marin, Olson, Anderson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Ordinance 202,6d
included with these minutes.)
C. Freeborn Bank and Jacobson Building Request for Proposals
Adams reported that it would be difficult to redevelop these buildings without low-income tax credits, as the cost of restoration would be $5 to 6 million. Baker clarified with Adams that any additional tax dollars invested in the property would be necessary to fill a gap to ensure that the project is profitable for a developer. Adams said that the City is pursuing a workforce housing tax credit, but the measure may not pass or apply to this project. Adams then discussed the reasons that the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency rejected the application that Cohen-Esrey (the potential developer of the project) submitted. In response to Baker, Adams said that he feels the odds of the application being approved in the future are about “fifty-fifty.”
Marin proposed developing the building one story at a time. Adams said the City previously allowed requests for development by floor. Marin asked Adams to clarify a remark about full development of the block. Adams responded that a developer could contact the other landowners on the block for a potential developer of the entire block instead of just the Freeborn Bank and Jacobson buildings. Adams added that the RFP the City releases could include a floor-by-floor proposal. Baker said that he would like to explore the redevelopment of the 300 block of S. Broadway with the entire Council as well.
Rasmussen explained to the public what a request-for-proposals is, which would be reviewed by the City Council.
MAYOR AND COUNCIL REPORTS
First Ward, Councilor Schulte V:
• Attended the Library Board meeting where the Director presented the budget for 2017 and the addition of the Hoopla, a digital media product that allows patrons to check out materials electronically.
Second Ward, Councilor Baker:
• Did not attend Planning Commission meeting.
Third Ward, Councilor Marin
• Attended the Human Rights Commission meeting; the Commission is seeking new members. He thanked Mike Zelenak and other members of the commission; also expressed appreciation for being able to work with the staff. He thanked his wife and wished her a happy birthday.
Fourth Ward, Councilor Olson:
• No report.
Fifth Ward, Councilor Anderson:
• Asked people to be cautious due to ice.
Sixth Ward, Councilor Brooks:
• Was unable to attend the Port Authority meeting.
• Attended the Port Authority meeting and noted the City submitted a proposal for a developer.
• Requested applications for board and commission memberships as well as nominations for awards.
• Asked for volunteers to discuss holiday lighting options in downtown Albert Lea.
CITY MANAGER REPORT
Adams encouraged people to contact him about desired space in the Freeborn Bank Building. The ‘Albert Lea Entrepreneur Advancement Program’ (ALEAP) is offering a class on how to write a business plan.
APPROVAL OF CLAIMS
A. Resolution 16-265 Approving Contract with Councilmember Schulte
The resolution directed the Mayor and City Clerk to issue payment to Councilmember John Schulte V in the amount of $1,500.00.
Motion made by Councilor Brooks, seconded by Councilor Anderson. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Baker, Marin, Olson, Anderson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Councilor Schulte V abstained. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 16-265
Include with these minutes.)
B. Resolution 16-266 Approving Claims
(1). Presentation of Claims Over $25,000
The resolution directed the Mayor and City Clerk to issue the payment of claims as presented in the Detail of Claims report. Adams highlighted the claims over $25,000.
Motion made by Councilor Anderson, seconded by Councilor Baker. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Schulte V, Baker, Marin, Olson, Anderson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 16-266
Included with these minutes.)
ADJOURNMENT – 8:34 PM
Motion made by Councilor Anderson, seconded by Councilor Schulte V, that there being no further business, the Council meeting adjourn until the next regular meeting of the Albert Lea City Council at 7:00 p.m., on Monday, December 27, 2016. On roll call vote, all councilors voted in favor of said motion. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed and the meeting adjourned.
Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr.