REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
CITY OF REDWOOD FALLS, MINNESOTA
TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2022
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, June 21, 2022, at 5:00 p.m.
Roll call indicated Mayor Tom Quackenbush and Council Members Matt Smith, Denise Kerkhoff, Jim Sandgren, Larry Arentson, and John T. Buckley were present, constituting a quorum.
Also present were City Administrator Keith Muetzel, City Attorney Trenton Dammann, Public Works Project Coordinator Jim Doering, Finance Director Kari Klages, and Council Secretary Caitlin Kodet.
A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Kerkhoff to approve the agenda. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
A motion was made by Council Member Buckley and seconded by Council Member Arentson to approve the June 7, 2022, minutes as presented. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
A motion was made by Council Member Kerkhoff and seconded by Council Member Smith to approve the following items on the Consent Agenda.
1. Block Party Request – The Circle of Healing
2. Block Party Request – Redwood Alliance Church
Motion passed by unanimous vote.
City Attorney Trenton Dammann introduced Ordinance No. 79, Fourth Series – Authorization to Approve the Sale of Real Property Located at 511 Dekalb Street.
Mr. Dammann stated the proposed Ordinance was introduced at the June 7, 2022 Council meeting. The City of Redwood Falls owns the land upon which Garnette Gardens is built, 511 Dekalb Street. When Garnette Gardens was developed the City purchased the building site from the School District for $60,000 and entered into a ground lease granting Garnette Gardens lease access to the land. The land lease was utilized to minimize the upfront development costs incurred by Garnette Gardens. Garnette Gardens is in the process of refinancing with a HUD insured loan which requires the borrower to own the land that is occupied by the facility being refinanced. The existing land lease includes a provision that states if Garnette Gardens is sold to a third party, the lease agreement terminates, and the third party shall be required to purchase the land from the City of Redwood Falls for a predetermined purchase price of $120,000.
Mr. Dammann stated on February 4, 2022, Vista Prairie at Garnette Gardens, LLC, submitted a purchase proposal for the real property located at 511 Dekalb Street. Pursuant to the purchase proposal, on March 1, 2022, City Council agreed to exclusive negotiations with the Buyer. As of March 10, a draft Purchase Agreement has been finalized between the Parties. On March 15, 2022 at a regularly scheduled City Council meeting, the Council approved the purchase agreement by Resolution No. 23 of 2022. Pursuant to Section 12.05 of the Home Rule Charter of the City of Redwood Falls, Minnesota, as amended December 5, 1978, no real property of the City shall be disposed of except by Ordinance.
A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Buckley to approve Ordinance No. 79, Fourth Series – Authorization to Approve the Sale of Real Property Located at 511 Dekalb Street. Motion passed by the following roll call vote:
AYE: Council Members Buckley, Sandgren, Kerkhoff, Smith, and Arentson
City Attorney Trenton Dammann introduced Ordinance No. 80, Fourth Series – Sanitary Sewer Inflow and Infiltration Reduction Program Update.
Mr. Dammann stated the proposed Ordinance was introduced at the June 7, 2022 Council meeting. On November 5, 2019 Council approved and adopted Ordinance No. 66, Fourth Series, to address the issue of prohibited discharge of clear water drainage into the City’s sanitary sewer system. Prohibited discharge of clear water drainage includes not only unauthorized inflow but also the infiltration of clear water drainage into compromised sanitary sewer service lines. To make the City’s planned inspection process inclusive of all kinds of prohibited discharge of clear water drainage, including infiltration of compromised sanitary sewer service lines, City staff believes amendment of Ordinance No. 66, Subdivision 3, is necessary to add sanitary sewer service lines to the list of facilities to be inspected.
A motion was made by Council Member Sandgren and seconded by Council Member Arentson to approve Ordinance No. 80, Fourth Series – Sanitary Sewer Inflow and Infiltration Reduction Program Update. Motion passed by the following roll call vote:
AYE: Council Members Buckley, Sandgren, Kerkhoff, Smith, and Arentson
Public Works Project Coordinator Jim Doering introduced the Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC) Planning Proposal.
Jessica Welu, Communications Specialist, and Rosemary Bruce-White, Development Planner for the Southwest Regional Development Commission were present to address Council.
Mr. Doering stated the SRDC has applied for and been granted Federal EDA Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Program funding for the development of a regional trails plan for the nine counties of Southwest Minnesota that comprise the SRDC. The EDA request was a $208,998.00 project that requires a 20% match. The SRDC commission has committed to providing $14,800 in matching funds and has received a commitment from 7 of the 9 counties with each providing a $3,000 match. The Redwood County Board of Commissioners have requested the SRDC present during their budgeting process and that the match obligations be shared between the County and the City of Redwood Falls. As a result, the SRDC has requested to be heard by the Board of Commissioners and City of Redwood Falls at their respective public meetings.
Mr. Doering stated the regional scope of this strategic plan will focus on connecting individual county trail plans with each other in the Southwest Region. It will include established and planned city trails along with other trail initiatives such as the Chief Sleepy Eye Trail, the Casey Jones Trail, and MN River Trail that are recognized and established by statute. The established trails in the City of Redwood Falls are currently positioned to link to these State trails. The North Redwood trail is the link to the MN River Trail, and the Southwaite/Aspenwood trail from Normandale is the Casey Jones and Chief Sleepy Eye Link. The County trail plan has Redwood Falls as the natural trailhead for these State trails that are planned to converge here in the future.
Ms. Bruce-White gave background on the CARES act funding that the SRDC received and the development of a Regional Economic Resiliency Plan. The plan focused on enhancing economic development in the region through quality-of-life advancement. One of the goals was to develop an outdoor recreation plan and subsequently develop a trails plan for the region. SRDC applied for a grant through the Rescue Act for the Regional Trail Plan in the amount of $208,998.00. The grant has been approved.
Ms. Welu gave additional information regarding the Regional Trail Plan and the process of connecting the trails of nine counties. The grant would include funding for community outreach. The group is looking to plan at least two big community events in each of the nine Counties.
A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Buckley to approve the SRDC request for the 2023 budget in the amount of $1,500.00 contingent upon Redwood County also approving the matching fund request. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
City Attorney Dammann introduced Resolution No. 44 of 2022 – A Resolution of the City of Redwood Falls Declaring Abandoned Property.
Mr. Dammann stated through the course of regular operations, the Redwood Falls Police Department has
lawfully come into possession of personal property belonging to other owners. Property obtained in this matter is normally held until a case has been resolved or the Police Department has been provided legal authority to dispose of it, at which time it has been the Police Department’s practice to attempt to contact the owners and have them retrieve their property.
Mr. Dammann stated Redwood Falls City Ordinance Section 2.80 provides the City with a process and the authority to dispose of unclaimed “abandoned” property. This resolution incorporates the language of Section 2.80 and exercises the City’s authority to declare the unclaimed property as “abandoned” and dispose of the property appropriately. The cash property that is the subject of this resolution has been in the possession of the City for more than sixty (60) days before March 22, 2022 and is currently being held in the City’s General Fund. The iPhone 8 Plus is currently being held in the Police Department’s evidence locker. More than thirty (30) days have elapsed since the last attempt to contact the owners of the subject property on March 22, 2022. Section 2.80 authorizes the sale of non-cash and non-negotiable property that is declared abandoned, with all proceeds from the sale to be paid into the General Fund of the City.
Mr. Dammann stated normally, if a former owner would make claim within eight months from the date of publication of the notice, upon application and satisfactory proof of ownership, the owner would be paid the amount of cash or negotiables or, in the case of property sold, the amount received less a pro-rata share of the expenses of storage, publication of notice, and sale expenses, but without interest. The payment is also made from the General Fund. However, given the nature of the information contained on today’s modern cellular phones, Staff recommends that the iPhone 8 Plus be destroyed instead of sold if it remains unclaimed after three (3) weeks from the date of publication of notice. The iPhone 8 Plus has been in possession of the Police Department since December 2020 and was authorized by the prosecuting authority to be disposed of on June 9, 2021. Attempts were made to contact the owner of the phone on July 20, 2021 and March 22, 2022.
A motion was made by Council Member Kerkhoff and seconded by Council Member Buckley to waive the reading of Resolution No. 44 of 2022 – A Resolution of the City of Redwood Falls Declaring Abandoned Property. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
A motion was made by Council Member Sandgren and seconded by Council Member Arentson to approve Resolution No. 44 of 2022 – A Resolution of the City of Redwood Falls Declaring Abandoned Property. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
Police Chief Jason Cotner was present to introduce Police Officer Position – Authorization to Hire.
Chief Cotner stated in November 2021, Officer Nicholas Esping resigned from Redwood Falls Police Department (RFPD) creating a vacancy. A hiring process was immediately started, and several candidates were interviewed in the following months. On April 19, 2022, an interview panel made up of City Administrator Keith Muetzel, Police Chief Jason Cotner, Asst. Police Chief Steve Schroeder, and Investigator Randy Braun interviewed candidate Jennifer Brozek. At the conclusion of the interview Ms. Brozek was found to be the most qualified candidate and she was given a conditional job offer which she accepted. The conditions of the job offer required a successful background check, physical examination, and psychological evaluation. On June 8, 2022, Ms. Brozek successfully completed all steps of the conditional job offer and no disqualifying information was found.
Chief Cotner stated Ms. Brozek has approximately eight years of full-time police officer experience with the Virginia, Minnesota, Police Department. She has completed a variety of training with that department and is one of their Field Training Officers. Staff recommends Council approval of Jennifer Brozek for employment with the Redwood Falls Police Department. Upon approval, Ms. Brozek would be on probation for 12 months from the date of hire.
A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Kerkhoff to approve the Police Officer Position – Authorization to Hire Jennifer Brozek. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
Police Chief Cotner introduced the Redwood Falls Police Department (RFPD) Policies.
Chief Cotner stated in May 2020 Council approved a revised RFPD Policy Manual. Since that approval, there have been a lot of changes to the officers’ working environments. Presented to Council for review and approval are four department policies including Vehicle Towing, Supervision of Part-Time Officers, Crisis Intervention, and Use of Remote Viewing Technologies.
Chief Cotner gave an overview of Policy #38 Supervision of Part-Time Officers and Policy #39 Crisis Intervention Incidents. RFPD recently hired two full-time Community Service Officers and therefore Policy #38 was necessary to fulfill the requirement from the POST Board to have a policy in place. The template for the policy came directly from the POST Board.
Chief Cotner stated Policy #39 was recommended by the League of MN Cities and was created based on training officers have already received.
Assistant Chief Steve Schroeder gave an overview of Policy #33 Vehicle Towing. The Vehicle Towing Policy has been updated to allow for more than one towing company to provide services for the Redwood Falls Police Department.
Investigator Randy Braun gave an overview of Policy #40 Use of Remote Viewing Technology. The policy outlines the requirements for Officers to use the remote viewing device in the field.
A motion was made by Council Member Buckley and seconded by Council Member Arentson to approve the four Redwood Falls Police Department Policies as presented. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
City Administrator Muetzel requested Council move to Agenda Item #10 to allow time for the applicant of Agenda Item 9. E to attend the meeting.
Council Member Kerkhoff requested an update on the Lake Redwood dredging activities and Hwy 19/71 bridge construction.
Mr. Doering stated JF Brennan Company is 35% complete with the Lake dredging. As of June 21st, 230,000 cubic yards of sediment have been removed from Lake Redwood. Dredging activities will shut down over the July 4th holiday weekend and will resume operation on Wednesday, July 6th.
City Administrator Muetzel stated MnDOT released a statement that the Hwy 19 bridge would be closed beginning Friday, June 24, and anticipated to be closed for three days. Council members agreed to leave the current traffic controls in place through the closure and Chief Cotner agreed to increase patrols through the park.
Mayor Quackenbush and Council Members met with the Project Manager on the former hospital remodel project and toured the building. The interior is currently being demolished and the developer is preparing for construction to start once a building permit has been issued.
Public Works Project Coordinator Doering gave an update on the Drew Street Project. The contractor is expected to start milling on June 27 with a substantial completion date of November 2023. Gas and electric utilities as well as cable and internet utilities are being moved underground along Drew Street. Great Plains is also replacing gas mains on the west side of town as part of an additional project.
City Administrator Muetzel introduced Resolution No. 45 of 2022 – Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing on Proposed Property Tax Abatement and Business Subsidy for a Childcare Center Project.
Briana Mumme, Redwood County Economic Development Coordinator, was present.
Mr. Muetzel stated Maria Harms (business owner) of Snug as a Bug Childcare and Craig Piette (property owner) of parcel number 88-766-0020 located in the City of Redwood Falls (project location) have submitted a tax abatement request to Redwood County, the City of Redwood Falls, and the Redwood Area School District. Mr. Piette is proposing to construct an approximately 5,400 sq. ft. childcare facility on the project location that would be operated by Ms. Harms. The proposed project would result in an investment of approximately $670,000 to construct the childcare facility. The initial estimate of market value for the facility based on information provided is $618,700. Based on that value and payable 2022 property tax rates, the facility is estimated to increase the annual City property tax for the project location by $8,196, increase the County property tax by $3,779 annually, and the School District property tax by $1,349.
Mr. Muetzel stated Ms. Harms and Mr. Piette are requesting the abatement (reimbursement) of City, County, and School property taxes for the new facility for as long as the facility is operated as a childcare center. By State Statute the maximum duration of a City/County/School property tax abatement is 15 years. Staff and the County’s economic development committee have recommended that a 15-year tax abatement be considered for the proposed project.
Mr. Muetzel further stated if determined to be appropriate to proceed with consideration of the request, a resolution is required to call for a public hearing on the proposed tax abatement and business subsidy to be held on July 19, 2022. The purpose of the public hearing is to receive public comment regarding the proposed tax abatement request. A draft of a proposed tax abatement resolution and Business Subsidy Agreement would be prepared for consideration at and after the proposed public hearing.
A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Buckley to waive the reading of Resolution No. 45 of 2022 – Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing on Proposed Property Tax Abatement and Business Subsidy for a Childcare Center Project. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
A motion was made by Council Member Kerkhoff and seconded by Council Member Sandgren to approve Resolution No. 45 of 2022 – Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing on Proposed Property Tax Abatement and Business Subsidy for a Childcare Center Project. 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 Smith and seconded by Council Member Arentson to adjourn the meeting at 6:13 p.m. Motion passed by unanimous vote.