City Council Meeting – December 15, 2020

MINUTES
REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
CITY OF REDWOOD FALLS, MINNESOTA
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2020

Pursuant to due call and notice thereof, a regular meeting of the Redwood Falls City Council was called to order in the Municipal Chambers on Tuesday, December 15, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.

Roll call indicated Mayor Tom Quackenbush and Council Members Matt Smith, Jim Sandgren, Larry Arentson, John T. Buckley, and Denise Kerkhoff were present constituting a quorum.

Also present were City Administrator Keith Muetzel, City Attorney Trenton Dammann, Public Works Project Coordinator Jim Doering, and Council Secretary Caitlin Kodet. Director of Finance & Administrative Services Melissa Meyer was present via electronic means.

A motion was made by Council Member Buckley and seconded by Council Member Kerkhoff to approve the agenda. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Arentson to approve the December 1, 2020, minutes as presented. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

City Attorney Dammann introduced the Conflict of Interest Statement for Craig and Cindy Labrie.

Mr. Dammann stated on November 18, 2020, Craig and Cindy Labrie submitted a conflict of interest worksheet along with their commercial application for the Redwood Falls Small Cities Development Grant Program (SCDP) through United Community Action Partnership (UCAP). Cindy identified herself as having a conflict of interest as an appointed official as she has been the appointed Administrative Hearing Officer for the City of Redwood Falls since 2016. Craig has also served the City of Redwood Falls as a member of the Port Authority since 2014.

Mr. Dammann stated pursuant to a strict reading of 24 CFR § 570.611 a conflict of interest does exist. In order to process the Labrie’s application, UCAP has requested two action items. City Staff must determine whether an exception to the general rule exists within State or Local law and provide evidence that there has been a public disclosure of the conflict.

Mr. Dammann further stated it is the opinion of City Staff that an exception to the general conflict of interest rule found in 24 CFR § 570.611 exists under State Law within Minn. Stat. § 471.88 Subds. 14 and 17. Therefore, the Labrie’s benefit from this program would not violate State or Local law. A conflict of interest statement outlining the conflict of interest has been prepared for public disclosure as an agenda item of the City Council’s regular meeting. No additional action is required by Council.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST STATEMENT
CINDY AND CRAIG LABRIE

Cindy and Craig Labrie have identified themselves within a commercial application for the Redwood Falls Small Cities Development Grant Program (SCDP) through United Community Action Partnership (UCAP) as Appointed Officials of the City of Redwood Falls.

Due to their relationship with the City of Redwood Falls, there exists a conflict of interest as acceptance of their commercial application through the SCDP would entitle them to financial benefit from a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)-assisted activity as outlined in 24 CFR § 570.611.

Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 471.88, Subd. 14(b), “When a local development organization administers a loan or grant program for individual property owners within the geographical boundaries of a government unit by an agreement entered into by the government unit and the local development organization, an officer of the government unit may apply for a loan or grant from the local development organization. If an officer applies for a loan or grant, the officer must disclose as part of the official minutes of a public meeting of the governmental unit that the officer has applied for a loan or grant.”

Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 471.88, Subd. 17, a “governing body may apply for and accept a state or federal grant for housing, community, or economic development in which a public officer may benefit, if the public officer abstains from voting on measures related to the grant.”

At no time during the creation, development, and/or implementation of the Redwood Falls SCDP has Cindy or Craig Labrie participated in or exercised any decision-making or voting authority concerning the program. The same will continue to be true, as both Cindy and Craig Labrie will abstain from any decision-making or voting concerning the program throughout the remainder of the grant period.

As such, Cindy and Craig Labrie have met and will continue to meet the requirements found in Minn. Stat. § 471.88 Subds. 14 and 17, which provide for an exception to the stated conflict of interest.

City Attorney Dammann introduced Ordinance No. 68, Fourth Series – An Ordinance Amending Redwood Falls City Code of Ordinances §9.20 and §9.21 and Adding §9.22.

Mr. Dammann stated with the new construction of the publicly available electric vehicle charging stations at the Redwood Area Community Center, City staff believes it is necessary to add a new section addressing allowable and prohibited use of such spaces to Redwood Falls City Code of Ordinances, Chapter 9: Parking Regulations. The inclusion of this new section is meant to reserve these spaces for members of the public who will use the charging station equipment while parked in these spaces and prohibit non-electric vehicles from using those spaces. Without a section addressing these parking spaces, law enforcement will be unable to address any complaints of misuse.

A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Sandgren to waive the reading of Ordinance No. 68, Fourth Series – An Ordinance Amending Redwood Falls City Code of Ordinances §9.20 and §9.21 and Adding §9.22. Motion passed by unanimous vote. The Ordinance will be placed on the January 4th Council agenda for consideration of final approval.

Director of Finance & Administrative Services Meyer introduced Redwood Falls Fire Relief Municipal Contribution Methodology.

Ms. Meyer stated in 2011, staff worked with the Fire Relief Association to resolve a municipal contribution problem that was brought to our attention by the Office of the State Auditor. At that time, staff asked for Council approval to utilize the Fire Equipment Fund to increase or decrease the municipal contribution during each year that the contribution varied from the $21,600 budget amount.

Ms. Meyer stated the Fire Relief Association recently requested that staff no longer use the Fire Equipment Fund to balance this funding difference. Staff recommends an assignment of fund balance be used instead. The definition of an assigned fund balance is as follows: Assigned fund balance represents resources intended for spending for a purpose set by the governing body itself or by some person or body delegated to exercise such authority in accordance with policy established by the board. The City Council authorizes the Director of Finance & Administrative Services to assign fund balance that reflects the City’s intended use of those funds.

Ms. Meyer further stated pending Council approval, $41,724 will be transferred out of the Fire Equipment Fund and recorded as an assigned fund balance. Staff will continue to use this methodology until superseded. Staff will manage the amount that should be transferred to the Fire Relief each year as part of the budgeting process.

A motion was made by Council Member Arentson and seconded by Council Member Kerkhoff to approve the Redwood Falls Fire Relief Municipal Contribution Methodology. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

Public Works Project Coordinator Doering introduced the Northwood Drive Sanitary Sewer Lining Project – Approve Advertisement for Bids.

Mr. Doering stated per Council approved Task Order No. 6 of 2020, Bolton and Menk Inc. have put together the advertisement for bids, bid specifications, and plan set for the 2021 Northwood Drive Sanitary Sewer Lining Project. The total engineer’s estimate for construction and engineering is $532,120.00 without contingency. Bids will be due at noon on January 12th. With a planned recommendation of award at the January 19, 2021 Council meeting.

A motion was made by Council Member Sandgren and seconded by Council Member Kerkhoff to approve the Advertisement for Bids for the Northwood Drive Sanitary Sewer Lining Project. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

Director of Finance & Administrative Services Meyer introduced Resolution No. 64 of 2020 – Approving the Decertification of Tax Increment Financing District No. 9-1 of the City of Redwood Falls.

Due to a possible conflict of interest, Mayor Quackenbush abstained from the discussion.

Ms. Meyer stated TIF District No. 9-1 for the Daktronics Expansion was created in 2014 as an economic development district. The district commenced with the first tax increment payment made in June 2016, and was to end with the final payment made no later than December 31, 2024 or when a total of $120,000 of tax increment payments were made, which occurred in June 2020. This TIF District generated excess increments of $30,586.62 that is obligated to be returned to Redwood County. Staff recommends decertification of the District and the return of the excess increments to Redwood County per the attached Resolution.

A motion was made by Council Member Buckley and seconded by Council Member Smith to waive the reading of Resolution No. 64 of 2020 – Approving the Decertification of Tax Increment Financing District No. 9-1 of the City of Redwood Falls. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

A motion was made by Council Member Sandgren and seconded by Council Member Arentson to approve Resolution No. 64 of 2020 – Approving the Decertification of Tax Increment Financing District No. 9-1 of the City of Redwood Falls. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

Public Works Project Coordinator Doering introduced Resolution No. 65 of 2020 – Authorization to Approve Fee Increase and Removal of Consumer Price Index Accelerator of Section 2 Phosphorus Trade Agreement with the Public Utilities Commission of the City of New Ulm.

Mr. Doering stated the City of Redwood Falls entered into an agreement with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of the City of New Ulm in February of 2016 to purchase 1,522 kg/yr to meet phosphorus limits in regards to the MPCA imposed Lake Pepin Limit. New Ulm is able to remove more phosphorus than their limit requires creating a tradeable commodity and has helped the City of Redwood Falls meet the MPCA limit requirements.

Mr. Doering stated per the agreement the original annual purchase to meet the City’s waste load allocation was set at $25 per kg or $38,800.00 for year one and increased annually by the “Consumer Price Index” (CPI). The current 2020 payment is $40,737.52 and estimated to increase by 2.5% CPI for 2021. The PUC of New Ulm completed a rate study and is increasing the cost per kg to $30/kg or $45,660.00 annually. This is an increase of approximately $3,900.00 over the expected 2021 CPI adjusted payment programmed for 2021 under the old schedule. In addition to the rate change, the PUC of New Ulm is also foregoing the CPI accelerator and made this a fixed fee from now on.

Mr. Doering further stated in lieu of drafting another full agreement Staff is recommending Council accept the proposed fee increase and the abolishment of the CPI accelerator of Section 2 of the existing agreement by this resolution and set the new fixed fee of $45,660.00 annually. This will remain in effect as long as the trade agreement is necessary to meet required phosphorus limits.

A motion was made by Council Member Kerkhoff and seconded by Council Member Buckley to waive the reading of Resolution No. 65 of 2020 – Authorization to Approve Fee Increase and Removal of Consumer Price Index Accelerator of Section 2 Phosphorus Trade Agreement with the Public Utilities Commission of the City of New Ulm. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Arentson to approve Resolution No. 65 of 2020 – Authorization to Approve Fee Increase and Removal of Consumer Price Index Accelerator of Section 2 Phosphorus Trade Agreement with the Public Utilities Commission of the City of New Ulm. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

Director of Finance & Administrative Services Meyer introduced Resolution No. 66 of 2020 – Authorization to Execute Purchase of Switch Hardware and Service from Thriveon.

Ms. Meyer stated staff requests approval to transfer a $90,000 budget surplus from the 2020 IT budget to the Capital Project Fund. This project was delayed due to the decision to upgrade the audio/visual equipment at various buildings using CARES funds. Staff also requests approval to dispose of the old equipment. The switch infrastructure is aged and in need of replacement at City Hall, RACC, Library, Power Plant, Tin Street Shop, Street Department Shop, Water Plant, Liquor Lodge, and Police Department. The aged equipment is causing system slowdowns and limiting the prevention of external cyber threats. Thriveon obtained quantity pricing on the equipment from their supplier which is below the price that can be obtained by the City at their normal supplier CDW.

A motion was made by Council Member Buckley and seconded by Council Member Arentson to waive the reading of Resolution No. 66 of 2020 – Authorization to Execute Purchase of Switch Hardware and Service from Thriveon. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

A motion was made by Council Member Kerkhoff and seconded by Council Member Smith to approve Resolution No. 66 of 2020 – Authorization to Execute Purchase of Switch Hardware and Service from Thriveon. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

A motion was made by Council Member Buckley and seconded by Council Member Arentson to approve the budget surplus transfer of $90,000 from the 2020 IT budget to the Capital Project Fund. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

A motion was made by Council Member Kerkhoff and seconded by Council Member Sandgren to declare the old switch infrastructure at various City locations as surplus property and approve for disposal. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

Public Works Project Coordinator Doering gave an update regarding the Lake Redwood Reclamation Project.

Mr. Doering stated in preparation for Phase II of the Lake Redwood Reclamation Project, Houston Engineering Inc. and Redwood-Cottonwood Rivers Control Area (RCRCA) provided an industry day for potential dredging contractors. In attendance were eight dredging companies. Phase I included the completion of the Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) in the fall of 2020. Phase II will begin the hydraulic dredging of Lake Redwood. The next step for Phase II will be to advertise for bids in early 2021. The hydraulic dredging of Lake Redwood should be substantially complete in 2022.

Mr. Doering stated the sources of funding for the project are a General Obligation Bond from the State of MN in the amount of $7.3 million and funding from the City in the amount of $900,000. The overall project goals are to improve water quality in Lake Redwood receiving waters, restore recreational opportunities, increase water depth and clarity for aquatic habitats, and improve hydroelectric dam reliability for the City.

Director of Finance & Administrative Services Meyer presented an overview of the 2021 Property Tax Levy, Payments In Lieu of Taxes, and 2021 payable budget at 6:00 p.m.

Ms. Meyer stated the 2021 Total City Budget receives 89.52% of the total budget, $24,998,370, from non-tax revenue sources. Property taxes fund 10.48% of the total budget, $2,927,115. The total 2021 Levy increased by 3.45%. Local Government Aid (LGA) increased in 2021 to $1,693,429.

A motion was made by Council Member Sandgren and seconded by Council Member Buckley to waive the reading of Resolution No. 61 of 2020 – Resolution Levying Ad Valorem Taxes for the Year 2021. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Arentson to approve Resolution No. 61 of 2020 – Resolution Levying Ad Valorem Taxes for the Year 2021. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

A motion was made by Council Member Kerkhoff and seconded by Council Member Arentson to waive the reading of Resolution No. 62 of 2020 – Resolution Approving 2021 Payments in Lieu of Taxes. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

A motion was made by Council Member Sandgren and seconded by Council Member Smith to approve Resolution No. 62 of 2020 – Resolution Approving 2021 Payments in Lieu of Taxes. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

A motion was made by Council Member Arentson and seconded by Council Member Kerkhoff to waive the reading of Resolution No. 63 of 2020 – Resolution Approving 2021 Final Budgets. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Buckley to approve Resolution No. 63 of 2020 – Resolution Approving 20201 Final Budgets. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

Bills and Claims were presented to Council for informational purposes. No questions, comments, or concerns were raised.

There being no further business, a motion was made by Council Member Kerkhoff and seconded by Council Member Sandgren to adjourn the meeting at 6:33 p.m. Motion passed by unanimous vote.