REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY OF ALBERT LEA
Monday, September 10, 2018, 7:00 P.M.
PRESENT: Mayor Vern Rasmussen, Jr., Councilors Rich Murray, Larry Baker, Jason Howland, Robert Rasmussen, Reid Olson, and Al Brooks. Also present were City Manager Chad Adams, City Engineer Steve Jahnke, City Attorney Kelly Martinez, and City Clerk Daphney Maras
PUBLIC FORUM – There were no comments from the public.
Adams reviewed each item on the council agenda. In addition, Adams suggested a closed session meeting tonight to allow him to provide recent conversations with property owners.
I. COUNCIL AGENDA OF SEPTEMBER 10, 2018
CONSENT AND APPROVAL OF AGENDA
A. Approve Minutes Of The August 27, 2018 Regular Council Meeting
B. Approve Minutes Of The August 27, 2018 Work Session
C. Approve Minutes of the September 4, 2018 Special Meeting
D. Licenses & Permits (See Attached List)
E. Resolution Accepting Grant Award From Minnesota Energy Resources
F. Resolution Approving A Lot Combination Through A Certificate Of Survey For The Property At Lots 4, 5 And Part Of 6, Blk. 13, Wedgewood Cove Estates No. 1
G. Resolution Approving A Variance For 2191 Palmer Circle
H. Resolution Declaring Hometown Pride Fall Cleanup Day And Authorizing Reduced Rates At Transfer Station
Motion made by Councilor Baker to approve the consent and agenda with the addition of the Closed Session Pursuant to Minn. Statute §13D.05, subd. 3(c) after this council meeting, seconded by Councilor Rasmussen. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 18-155 thru 18-158 included with these minutes)
PETITIONS, REQUESTS, AND COMMUNICATIONS
A. ORDINANCE 218,9d AMENDING CHAPTER 74, ARTICLE I, SEC. 74-2 – DEFINITIONS AND CHAPTER 74, ARTICLE VI, SEC. 74-1095 – LOCATIONAL AND SITE DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS (H) EXTERIOR LIGHTING (2ND READING)
The first reading of this ordinance was held at the August 13th City Council meeting. This is the final reading of the ordinance which would amend the zoning map for those properties in the Stables area being annexed from the Albert Lea Township. Staff recommends approval.
Motion made by Councilor Baker seconded by Councilor Brooks. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Ordinance 218,9d included with these minutes)
B. RESOLUTION 18-159 PERMITTING PUBLICATION OF AN ORDINANCE SUMMARY BY TITLE AND SUMMARY
Summaries of ordinances may be published if they reasonably inform the public of the effect and intent of the Ordinance. Summaries fulfill all legal requirements as if the entire summarized matter had been published and also directs the public how to obtain the complete Ordinance. This must pass by a four-fifths vote by Council. Staff recommends approval.
Motion made by Councilor Murray seconded by Councilor Brooks. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 18-159 included with these minutes)
A. 2019 PRELIMINARY BUDGET
Staff is seeking approval of the attached resolutions along with a separate motion for accepting the Port Authority Budget.
1. RESOLUTION 18-160 ADOPTING THE 2019 PRELIMINARY BUDGET AND PROPERTY TAX LEVY
Finance Director Kristi Brutlag provided an overview of the 2019 preliminary budget and property Tax Levy. Brutlag noted the first operating tax levy increase since 2013 of $140,000 or 2.94%. She detailed slides relating to:
• 2019 General fund and debt levy
• 2019 HRA Levy request at $220,000 up 111,000 from last year
• 2019 Expense and Revenue Highlights
• 2018 vs 2019 Expenses and Revenues
• 2019 General Fund Budget – Revenues
• What do your taxes buy you?
• Next Steps including review, finalize and approve budgets, CIP, fee schedule, Financial Management Plan, Utility Rates Tax Levy
Adams spoke of the changes in the HRA budget noting the biggest change was in the office acquisition cost of $140,000 to move the office location. He said City staff is recommending that the HRA Levy amount remain at $109,000 versus the recommended $220,000, and leave the office location where it is, as it is viewed to be adequate and necessary. Adams noted the recommended levy of $220,000 is over the .0185 percent of the estimated market value and cannot be approved by the governing body of the city per Pursuant to Minn. Statute §469.033, subd. 6. Therefore, staff will be asking council to approve the HRA Levy at $109,000. Adams resumed with review of the Market Value changes from 2017 to 2018. He noted an overall market value increase of 4%, which he stated is a sign of good tax base growth and should result in little or no increase in most property owners’ taxes. Howland inquired about the negative market value adjustment in the commercial column of the slide. Adams said he will double check with the County, who provided the information, for clarification and will provide an update prior to the final levy.
To Baker’s question, Adams said the operating levy has been at 0% for six consecutive years, and the debt levy has not exceeded 2% in any given year.
Council engaged in questions and discussion on budget items.
Baker asked City staff to continue working at maintaining 0% on the Tax Levy. Brooks echoed Baker’s comments. Howland reiterated the previous council comments. He commended staff for decreasing the debt service levy. Howland asked if the operating levy were to get down to 0%, would that result in a tax decrease. Adams agreed that would likely be the case, however there are many variables that affect the tax levy and more will be known late November. Mayor challenged not only staff, but also the council to continue looking at ways to achieve the 0% goal.
Motion made by Councilor Olson seconded by Councilor Rasmussen. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 18-160 included with these minutes)
2. RESOLUTION 18-161 APPROVING ALBERT LEA HOUSING AND REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (HRA) PRELIMINARY PROPERTY TAX LEVY FOR FISCAL YEAR 2019
Motion made by Councilor Olson to approve the HRA Tax Levy at the same amount as last year of $109,000, seconded by Councilor Howland. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 18-161 included with these minutes)
3. PORT AUTHORITY BUDGET PRESENTATION –
Mayor Rasmussen introduced Noelle Hagen Interim Executive Director of the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency.
Hagen mentioned the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency is dba or umbrella name for Greater Jobs Incorporated and the Albert Lea Port Authority. She informed council although, per state statute, the Port Authority has the right to mandate a tax to operate the Port Authority, once again they will not be requesting a levy as they will continue to fund operations from leases, lands, and good asset management.
Hagen provided an update of the 2019 Port Authority Budget as well as current initiatives. She said ALEDA properties paid over $200,000 in property taxes and assessments in 2018. Hagen relayed the current revenues are $937,147 while the expenditures are at $919,018, leaving a positive of $18,129. She noted this positive number is based on signing a lease with a current business to use one of the Spec buildings in the new ALEDA Park.
Hagen reported the Zumbro River Brand Company has added 25 new jobs and currently have 14 open positions. She spoke of the entrepreneur program, Tiger Cage Business Competition, which is taking applications through October 5th. This program allows existing small businesses, as well as new startup businesses to apply and potentially win financial assistance and/or services. Funding is provided by local business partnerships, grants, and in-kind donation of services. She said a search firm has been hired to find a new Executive Director. Mayor Rasmussen thanked Hagen for stepping up to this position in the absence of a Director.
Motion made by Councilor Murray seconded by Councilor Baker to approve the Port Authority Budget. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
B. FIRE STATION PROJECT PUBLIC FORUM –
1. SITE SELECTION PRESENTATION
Adams led a presentation that chronicled the project history of the Fire Department proposal from 2012-2016. In addition he detailed:
• Recent project background
• Background on soils conditions-geotechnical information
• Side by side site comparisons including site development and probable costs on both sites
• Funding options and analysis
• Recap of the September 4th public forum addressing questions and comments that were presented by community members and council at that time.
Baker asked Adams to speak of the site boring findings that Mr. Brunten spoke of at his last visit referring to the Blazing Star Landing site and possible soil contamination. Adams explained during the process of soil borings, a smell of petroleum or gas was detected however, the soils did not ultimately reveal contamination; therefore the borings were able to continue. Mayor Rasmussen asked Jahnke to expound on this subject. Jahnke provided historical details of suspected contamination left from a Dry Cleaning business many years ago and measures that were taken at that time. Adams added there are state dollars available for private economic developments to be used for these types of cleanup. These dollars are not available to government entities for the same purpose.
To Howland’s question, Jahnke confirmed no contamination was found during the current soil borings. Howland had questions on the taxable value of the Blazing Star Landing and if the Fire Facility was ever included in the master plan for that site. Adams provided information on the previously proposed master and the options available for the land.
Baker asked if there is still interest from developers to use the Blazing Star Landing. Adams responded there is a master developer that has drafted a letter of intent, however the requests from this developer is not feasible at this time due to the specific request of a community center desired to be constructed first, prior to any private development.
Mayor Rasmussen opened the public forum.
Doug Wiegal commented on the acquisition costs of the Newton Avenue. He stated he thinks this site is too constricted and the Blazing Star Landing is the common sense location.
There were no other public comments.
2. RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING ADVERTISEMENT OF BIDS
Baker commented he is not ready to make a site decision tonight. Howland said he has been in favor of the Blazing Star Landing from the start and after the data analysis, it does not change his mind.
Motion made by Councilor Howland to declare the Blazing Star Landing the new Fire Station location and authorize bids, seconded by Councilor Brooks. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Howland, Brooks
The following councilors voted Nay: Murray, Baker, Olson, Rasmussen, and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion failed.
After council discussion, it was agreed to go into closed session this evening and allow Adams to provide more information. Mayor Rasmussen concluded open discussion will be continued at the September 24th council meeting.
C. RESOLUTION 18-162 AND PUBLIC HEARING ORDERING IMPROVEMENT AND PREPARATION OF PLANS FOR NW SEWER AND WATER EXTENSION IMPROVEMENTS – STABLES AREA PROJECT (JOB 1702)
A public hearing is being held for public input on the proposed NW Sewer and Water Extension Improvement. This project provides sanitary sewer and water to the Stables area, properties along Country Club Road and accommodates a future extension of the sanitary sewer and watermain, north along CSAH 20 to the West Plaza Area. Roadways being reconstructed as part of this project include Belgrade Drive, North Trail, East Trail, West Trail, Elm Street and Country Club Road. This is an area where, due to the small lot sizes, many of the properties have noncompliant septic systems and no way to construct a system that would meet the requirements.
Jahnke provide the historical timeline of this annexation request. In addition it was noted that in order to try and reduce the cost of the project, the City of Albert Lea has applied for Public Facilities Authority Funding. The City has submitted a Preliminary Engineering Report and Facilities Plan for servicing the Stables Area. These plans have been approved by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Health. The project is now eligible for low interest loans and grants. There are 52 lots in the Stables area and 10 lots in the Country Club Road area. There is one lot east of Richway Drive that has also requested annexation. The estimated cost of the project is $2,964,218.57. There is also an estimated cost of $343,548 to remove the existing ditches and provide the residents of the Stables area with curb and gutter and storm sewer system. The cost of this is approximately $6,600 per lot and will only proceed if requested by the residents.
The homeowners will be responsible for all work from the right of way line into the property. This includes the private sewer service, private water service, and removal or crushing of the existing septic system. The City is evaluating doing one large bid for this work to try to get a better price for the homeowners. The City of Albert Lea and Freeborn County have both indicated they would contribute up to $300,000 ($600,000 combined) toward this project to make it feasible if necessary.
The Public Facilities Authority has indicated that the project is eligible for low interest loans and grants. The City anticipates that this funding may be up to 50% for the water portion and up to 50% for the sewer portion. This works out to the following:
PFA Grant Funds – Water $0 – $677,000
PFA Grant Funds – Sewer $0 – $939,000
This funding will not be known until the project is bid and grants written in late 2018. Because of this, assessment calculations are based on the worst case scenario.
Per the City of Albert Lea Assessment Policy, the entire cost of the project will be assessed to the benefiting property owners, less the funding from the City, County and Grant funds if available. Costs for the project are proposed to be assessed at a per lot basis. This was done because all properties benefit equally from this construction.
Jahnke outlined the Proposed Timeline:
If the Council approves moving forward with the project, the proposed timeline is as follows:
Neighborhood Meeting: Jul 30, 2018
Public Hearing for Annexation Aug 9, 2018
Annexation Joint Resolutions Aug 13, 2018
Feasibility Report Aug 13, 2018
Council Accepts Feasibility Study/Calls Public Improvement Hearing Sept 10, 2018
Public Improvement Hearing and Order Finalization of Plans Sept 10, 2018
Resolution Approving Plans and Authorizing Advertisement for Bid Sept 24, 2018
Open Bids Nov 2018
Finalize PFA Loans and Grants Nov – Jan
Start Construction Spring 2019
End Construction Fall 2019
Staff recommends approval of the project.
Mayor Rasmussen opened up the public hearing. He called three times. No one spoke.
Brooks asked if there is consideration for anyone with a new sewer system. Jahnke said he is not aware of any new septic systems adding if any have been upgraded in the last five years, consideration will be given.
Jahnke said he has received positive comments supporting this project.
Baker had questions on the City’s acquisition of an easement in that area. Adams replied this is an on-going discussion and no agreement has been made yet.
Motion made by Councilor Baker seconded by Councilor Rasmussen. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 18-162 included with these minutes)
D. RESOLUTION 18-163 AND PUBLIC HEARING APPROVING TAX ABATEMENT FOR CERTAIN PROPERTY PURSUANT TO MINN STAT. 469.1813
A Public Hearing is being held to consider abatement of property taxes levied by the City on the following properties identified as tax parcel numbers:
Address Parcel Number
2487 W. 9th Street 34.431.0600
22374 770th Ave. 34.353.0140
Council adopted the Tax Abatement Policy to provide incentives to encourage construction of new owner occupied and rental residential housing units within the City. Persons constructing a single family home, duplex, or multi-family complex that file an application and obtain formal approval from the appropriate local jurisdictions between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019 shall be eligible to receive 100% tax abatement of the City’s share of the increased real estate taxes resulting from the newly constructed housing unit for a period of five (5) years. Staff recommends approval to grant tax abatement.
Mayor Rasmussen opened the Public Hearing. Called three times. No one spoke. Mayor Rasmussen closed the Public Hearing.
Motion made by Councilor Howland, seconded by Councilor Brooks. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 18-163 included with these minutes)
MAYOR AND COUNCIL REPORTS
First Ward, Councilor Murray reported:
• Ward Items – Items were referred to staff
• Committee Update – Attended a Port Authority Meeting last week where the budget was discussed, as well as the search for a new Executive Director.
Second Ward, Councilor Baker reported:
• Ward Items – Items were referred to staff.
• Committee Updated – None
Third Ward, Councilor Howland reported:
• Ward Items – None
• Committee Update – Attended the public forum for the Fire Facility last week. He mentioned he got married last week.
Fourth Ward, Councilor Olson reported:
• Ward Items – None
• Committee Update – Attended an HRA meeting. Reported they changed banking services. Named the City Attorney as the HRA attorney temporarily and signed an agreement to reimburse the City of staff time and services.
Fifth Ward, Councilor Rasmussen reported:
• Ward Items – Referred items to staff
• Committee Update – None
Sixth Ward, Councilor Brooks reported:
• Ward Items – None
• Committee Update- Attended the public forum for the Fire Facility. He reported he attended the local ACT performance and commended staff in charge of the theatre performances.
Mayor Vern Rasmussen, Jr. reported:
• September 21st – First-ever Park(ing) Day event sponsored by the Parks & Recreation Department is being held under the water tower at Fountain St. and Newton Avenue. The area will be transformed into a temporary public place. The public is invited to come and enjoy music, snacks and hopefully a small recreational fire for s’mores.
• September 22nd – Fountain Lake Powerboat Race will hold their Fountain Lake Power Boat Drag Race starting at noon. The race course is between North Edgewater Park and the new Edgewater Pavilion. There is no admission fee – the public is invited to attend.
• September 23rd – The “Walk to End Alzheimer’s includes a 1-mile and 3-mile walk, utilizing the Blazing Star Trail. Everyone is welcome to participate. Meet at Frank Hall Park for the 1 and 3 mile walking routes. There will be t-shirts and free food/beverages for the walkers. Opening and closing ceremonies include entertainment.
• October 13th – Is the Home Town Pride Cleanup Day from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 pm. at the Albert Lea Landfill. Reduced prices will be offered.
Mayor Rasmussen mentioned he attended a Port Authority meeting. He said the firm, David Drown Associates were hired to do the search for the new Executive Director.
CITY MANAGER REPORT:
Reminded council and public that there are two more music series of Thursdays on Fountain to make up for rain dates. He reported the attendance has doubled since last year. The attendance has been over 500 with last week’s event reporting over 1400.
APPROVAL OF CLAIMS
RESOLUTION 18-164 APPROVING CLAIMS
Adams explained that the attached resolution directs the Mayor and City Clerk to issue the payment of claims as presented in the Detail of Claims report. In addition, Adams displayed a list of claims over $25,000 for the public’s viewing, transparency, and education.
Motion made by Councilor Howland to approve payment of claims as presented for checks #69038 through #69190 in the amount of $1,602,459.19. Seconded by Councilor Brooks. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen.
Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 18-164 Included with these minutes)
CLOSED SESSION – Land Acquisition Pursuant to Minn. Statute §13D.05, subd. 3(c). Adams explained the properties to be discussed for possible acquisition for the Fire Department site location include:
- 220 East College
- 224 East College
- 406 Elizabeth Avenue
- 408 Elizabeth Avenue
- 410 Elizabeth Avenue
- 412 Elizabeth Avenue
- 411 Newton Avenue South
- 415 Newton Avenue South
- 417 Newton Avenue South
Motion made by Councilor Baker, seconded by Councilor Brooks to move into closed session. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks, and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
Mayor Rasmussen reopened the regular meeting at 8:58 p.m. He noted staff was provided with direction in the closed session.
ADJOURNMENT –9:04 PM
Motion made by Councilor Baker, seconded by Councilor Murray, 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, September 24th, 2018. 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.
Secretary of the Council