REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
CITY OF REDWOOD FALLS, MINNESOTA
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2019
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, October 15, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.
Roll call indicated Mayor Tom Quackenbush and Council Members Matt Smith, Larry Arentson, Jim Sandgren, John T. Buckley, and Denise Kerkhoff were present constituting a quorum.
Also present were City Administrator Keith Muetzel, Director of Finance & Administrative Services Melissa Meyer, Public Works Project Coordinator Jim Doering, City Attorney Amy Busse and Council Secretary Caitlin Kodet.
A motion was made by Council Member Arentson 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 ¬¬¬Smith to
approve the October 1, 2019, minutes as presented. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
Public Works Project Coordinator Doering introduced Ordinance No. 66, Fourth Series – An Ordinance Replacing §3.50 Discharge of Prohibited Clear Water Drainage.
Mr. Doering stated the rainfall events over the last five years exhibited unprecedented intensities and rainfall amounts. These events led to subsequent sanitary sewer system inundation and exacerbated a need to reduce the amount of “Inflow and Infiltration” (I&I) entering the sanitary sewer system. As little as four sump pumps or house underdrain systems hooked to the same sanitary sewer main will cause sewer backups and basement flooding.
Mr. Doering stated on June 4, 2019, Council approved Resolution No. 21 authorizing the development and implementation of an inspection program to reduce I&I and incorporate the services of ISG based on their proposal. Since then, staff and ISG developed a process to conduct smoke testing, followed by house-by-house inspections and a follow-up process for remediation of needed repairs found during the inspections. The process will take three years to complete, breaking down the City into separate inspection areas. A full education program will be conducted for each new area prior to conducting inspections.
Mr. Doering further stated the first step in the process is to approve Ordinance 66 that outlines the following: definitions and prohibition against clear water drainage into the sanitary sewer system, the new expectations of property owners to have correct connections regarding clear water drainage, as well as allowing for the inspection program and implementation of a surcharge for violations of the Ordinance. Staff also developed a process of financing any needed repairs related to the remediation of up to $5,000.00 at 3% interest with payments assessed to the property over 10 years.
Chris Larson, P.E. of ISG, was present to give a detailed overview of the proposed Inflow & Infiltration Reduction Program. Mr. Larson stated there will be an open house for property owners located in the first inspection zone tentatively scheduled for December 5, 2019. The new Ordinance will also require an inspection if the property is offered for sale or conveyance by deed or contract for deed, unless the City has verification that the property was already inspected and found to be in compliance within the last ten (10) years.
A motion was made by Council Member Kerkhoff and seconded by Council Member Smith to waive the reading of Ordinance No. 66, Fourth Series – An Ordinance Replacing §3.50 Discharge of Prohibited Clear Water Drainage. Motion passed by unanimous vote. The Ordinance will be placed on the November 5th Council agenda for consideration of final approval.
Mayor Quackenbush introduced a request from the Redwood County Board of Commissioners to have City Council initiate the vacation process to vacate a portion of the Courthouse Square.
Council Member Kerkhoff and Council Member Sandgren stated they would abstain from the discussion and subsequent vote due to a conflict of interest. Council members Kerkhoff and Sandgren stated their conflict was due to being employed by Redwood County.
Redwood County Commissioner Lon Walling presented the request on behalf of the Redwood County Board of Commissioners.
Commissioner Walling stated due to security and safety concerns with the current courthouse, the County has been exploring many different building options to address the concerns. Redwood County developed a plan for a new courthouse that would address all their concerns, however in order for the proposed courthouse plan to be implemented, a section of the street in front of the Ebbesen, Passe, & Whitmore law firm and the portion of the street in front of the LEC in Courthouse Square would need to be vacated in order to accommodate the new footprint of the building while still being able to attach to the Sheriff’s office and not disrupt the courts for over a year.
Mr. Walling further stated Redwood County met with the adjacent property owners that would need to sign the petition to vacate the requested portion of the street however the county and the adjacent property owners could not come to an agreement, therefore the County is requesting the City initiate the street vacation. Mr. Walling stated the County Board is fully committed to this project and would like to move forward.
Kevin Passe and Jeff Whitmore were present and identified themselves as the adjacent property owners from the Ebbesen Passe & Whitmore Law Office.
Mr. Passe stated he was contacted by the County regarding the Courthouse project various times over the last ten (10) years. The plans changed multiple times and contact with the County has not been consistent. On January 31, 2018, Redwood County Economic Development Coordinator Briana Mumme approached the Ebbesen Passe & Whitmore Law Office stating the County was interested in purchasing the law office building as part of the Courthouse project. Mr. Passe stated after meeting with Ms. Mumme two more times and reviewing an appraisal of the building the County provided, they were not interested in selling their law office building to the County.
Mr. Passe stated at the fourth meeting with Ms. Mumme, Mr. Passe and Mr. Whitmore were asked if they would come up with an offer for the County to buy their building. They put an offer in writing and a few days later the County outright rejected the offer. Mr. Passe stated they never received a counteroffer nor asked to resubmit an offer. The next contact with the County came months later on April 23, 2019 when they had a meeting with John McNamara, Lon Walling and Dennis Groebner. During the meeting, Mr. Passe and Mr.
Whitmore were presented with a new proposed Courthouse plan but they were never asked about or told about the required street vacation in order to make the new Courthouse plan work. On July 23, 2019, a new Courthouse plan was presented to Mr. Passe and Mr. Whitmore which moved the backside of the Courthouse 35’ in front of the Law Office’s front door. Mr. Passe stated they were never asked if they agreed to the street vacation. Later that evening at 7:00 p.m., Mr. Passe received the petition to vacate the street from John McNamara who requested Mr. Passe and/or Mr. Whitmore to sign the petition by the following day. Mr. Passe and Mr. Whitmore followed up with Mr. McNamara the following day and informed Mr. McNamara they do not agree with the street vacation and would not sign the petition.
Mr. Passe stated he and Mr. Whitmore met with Commissioners Walling and Groebner on August 16, 2019 and were asked again if they would agree to the street vacation to which they responded, no they are not interested in signing the petition. To date, neither Mr. Passe nor Mr. Whitmore received any additional correspondence from the County and were never invited to the County Board meetings to discuss the building plans.
Mr. Passe stated he met with City Administrator Muetzel on September 3, 2019, at his request, to discuss the street vacation. Mr. Passe and Mr. Whitmore also met with Commissioner Bob VanHee at Mr. VanHee’s request on September 9, 2019.
Mr. Passe and Mr. Whitmore stated they are disappointed with how the County has portrayed the situation in the public forum and in the newspaper. Mr. Passe and Mr. Whitmore do not agree they have had significant contact with the County regarding the Courthouse project as they say. Mr. Passe stated they received very little communication from the County about the project.
City Attorney Busse stated there are two options for vacating a street. To simplify the options, Attorney Busse suggested Council and those in the audience to consider the options being either a private route or a public route. The private vacation route requires a majority of the adjacent property owners to sign a petition to vacate a street that would then be presented to Council in order to initiate the vacation process. The public route allows for the Council, on their own motion, to initiate the vacation process. Ms. Busse stated Section §3.51 of the Unified Development Ordinance states, “This ordinance makes provision for the vacation of streets, alleys, or other public reservations of land, when it is demonstrated that such public reservation of land does not, or no longer, serves a clearly defined public purpose.” Therefore, in order for the Council to initiate the vacation process, on their own motion, the Council must be able to demonstrate that the public street does not, or no longer serves a clearly identified public purpose.
Ms. Busse further explained that in this situation, it is her legal opinion that the Council cannot legally meet the standard to move forward with the vacation on the Council’s own motion as the street requested to be vacated is an open and active street that still clearly serves a public purpose. Ms. Busse stated one public purpose cannot trump another public purpose such as building a new courthouse.
A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Buckley to deny the request to vacate a portion of the street around Courthouse Square. Motion passed by the following vote.
AYE: Council Members Arentson, Smith, and Buckley
ABSTAIN: Council Members Kerkhoff and Sandgren
Public Works Project Coordinator Doering introduced the Quote Approval – Generation of Well No. 5.
Mr. Doering stated the sole-source quote from Klabunde Electric Inc. for $67,507.61 is to install a propane-powered generator at well no. 5. The 80 kW generator is the bulk of the cost with $5,000.00 attributed to labor. Klabunde Electric is the approved vendor who has provided service on the water treatment facilities and wells since their installation. Their familiarity and retained knowledge of the electrical components and intricacies of the plant and wells provides them sole-source status.
Mr. Doering stated the City maintains 1.8 million gallons of treated water on hand with its current storage capacity. Average consumption is 550,000 gallons per day yielding 3.27 days of water availability without rationing. With recent projects, staff has been incorporating redundancy and emergency backups to systems in the event of a large-scale power outage due to a catastrophic event. Staff identified an issue with supplying water to the water treatment plant during such an event. The water treatment plant has a generator and can continue to produce water but currently well no. 5 cannot produce water in the event of a catastrophe due to the lack of a generator. The newly refurbished well no. 5 is our highest capacity well that has the ability to supply enough water in the event of an emergency. Well no. 5 is located outside the City’s electric service territory. Redwood Electric Cooperative provides the electric service to the well. The generator is an unbudgeted item that would be paid for out of the water fund.
A motion was made by Council Member Sandgren and seconded by Council Member Buckley to approve the Quote for Generation of Well No. 5 from Klabunde Electric Inc. in the amount of $67,507.61. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
City Administrator Muetzel introduced Resolution No. 36 of 2019 – Health Insurance Renewal and Employee Share of Premiums.
Mr. Muetzel stated when the City received the preliminary 2020 health insurance renewal from Preferred One, the City was quoted a 17.00% premium increase. Staff worked with the City’s Insurance Broker, Flexible Benefits, to obtain Group Health Insurance proposals for 2020. Five vendors responded to the RFP. Staff recommends accepting the renewal of our current group health plan with Preferred One at an increase of 8.00% in premiums. The proposal maintains the same coverage provided in 2019.
A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Arentson to waive the reading of Resolution No. 36 of 2019 – Health Insurance Renewal and Employee Share of Premiums. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
A motion was made by Council Member Kerkhoff and seconded by Council Member Buckley to approve Resolution No. 36 of 2019 – Health Insurance Renewal and Employee Share of Premiums. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
City Administrator Muetzel introduced Resolution No. 37 of 2019 – Designation of Annual Polling Place.
Mr. Muetzel stated all cities and townships must pass a resolution each year establishing the polling places for any elections scheduled for the following year. An annual resolution is required even if the polling place does not change. Due to the Presidential Nominating Primary Election on March 3, 2020 the County
Auditor requested the Resolution be submitted before December 4, 2019. Resolution No. 37 designates the 2020 polling place as the Redwood Area Community Center located at 901 East Cook Street, Redwood Falls.
A motion was made by Council Member Sandgren and seconded by Council Member Smith to waive the reading of Resolution No. 37 of 2019 – Designation of Annual Polling Place. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
A motion was made by Council Member Arentson and seconded by Council Member Kerkhoff to approve Resolution No. 37 of 2019 – Designation of Annual Polling Place. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
City Administrator Muetzel introduced the Promotion of Officer Brent Zuhlsdorf to Sergeant.
Mr. Muetzel stated in July of 2019, Sergeant Randy Braun informed Chief Cotner, that due to family reasons, he was resigning his position as Sergeant effective January 1, 2020, and he would return to his previous
status as a Patrol Officer. A promotion process was initiated to fill the upcoming sergeant vacancy. Two candidates came forward to request consideration for the Sergeant position. On September 4, 2019, both candidates participated in a written test and interview. The interview team consisted of City Administrator Muetzel, Police Commissioner Matt Smith, Sheriff Randy Hanson and Chief Cotner.
Mr. Muetzel stated at the conclusion of the promotion process, scores for both the written test and interview were compiled and it was determined Officer Brent Zuhlsdorf had the highest score. Based the results of the scores, Officer Zuhlsdorf was sent to Martin McAllister for a Leadership Assessment and an updated background check was completed. The Leadership Assessment found Officer Zuhlsdorf to be a qualified candidate for the Sergeant Position. In addition, the updated background check found no disqualifying information. Staff recommends Council approve the promotion of Officer Zuhlsdorf to Sergeant effective January 1, 2020.
A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Arentson to approve the Promotion of Officer Brent Zuhlsdorf to Sergeant. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
City Administrator Muetzel introduced the Reclassification of Assistant Police Chief Position from Non-Exempt to Exempt.
Mr. Muetzel stated prior to 2007, the Assistant Police Chief Position was classified as an Exempt position based on the job duties and requirements. Exempt positions are compensated by salary rather than an hourly rate and are not eligible for overtime. After 2007, the Assistant Chief position classification was changed to Non-Exempt, which made the position eligible for hourly pay and overtime. In 2018, Steve Schroeder was promoted to the Assistant Police Chief position. Since then, the job duties and requirements have made the management of his hourly position cumbersome for both the employee and management. At Assistant Chief Schroeder’s request, a new analysis was conducted on his position utilizing the Department of Labor FLSA Exemption Test. The analysis takes into account a salary basis test, exemption applicability and job analysis. The FLSA Exemption Test showed the Assistant Chief position still qualifies for Exempt status.
Mr. Muetzel further stated the change in classification will cause a negligible decrease to the RFPD’s overall budget, specifically as it relates to overtime costs. Chief Cotner and Assistant Chief Schroeder discussed the issue and both believe changing the Assistant Chief classification from Non-Exempt to Exempt is in the best interests of both the Redwood Falls Police Department and Assistant Chief Schroeder.
A motion was made by Council Member Sandgren and seconded by Council Member Kerkhoff to approve the Reclassification of Assistant Police Chief Position from Non-Exempt to Exempt. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
Street Superintendent Darrell Bowers was present to introduce the Street Department Pickup Truck Purchases.
Mr. Bowers stated the 2020 Central Garage operating budget includes the replacement of a 2006 Park Department pickup and a 2008 Water Department pickup. Both vehicles have approximately 95,000 miles. Staff received quotes from Marthaler Chevrolet for $28,216.00 and Weelborg Ford for $28,280. Staff recommends replacing both pickups with 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickups from Marthaler.
A motion was made by Council Member Buckley and seconded by Council Member Smith to approve the purchase of two Pickup Trucks from Marthaler Chevrolet for $28,216 each totaling $56,432 and declare the 2006 Park Department and 2008 Water Department trucks surplus property. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
Director of Finance & Administrative Services Meyer introduced the Request to Waive Utility Account Fees.
Ms. Meyer stated staff received a request from Stacie Bull Bear, a utility account holder to waive $90.00 in NSF fees and $23.87 in penalty fees due to three transactions made on her utility account through the online Enerlyte system. Ms. Meyer further stated she was informed prior to the meeting that the account was paid in full. Ms. Bull Bear was not present at the meeting. Staff recommended denial of the request to waive the fees as is consistent with past practice.
A motion was made by Council Member Smith and seconded by Council Member Arentson to deny the Request to Waive Utility Account Fees. Motion passed by unanimous vote.
City Administrator Muetzel discussed the agenda for the Tuesday, October 29, 2019, City Council work session.
Mr. Muetzel stated Council Members suggested several agenda items for the Council work session. To prepare for the meeting, and to ensure adequate time is allowed for each agenda item, staff is requesting the Council formally establish a work session agenda.
City Council Work Session Agenda Topics
1. Update on Redwood County Justice Center Project.
2. Hospital Redevelopment Request for Proposals.
3. Library Long Range Planning.
4. Small Cities Grant Update.
A motion was made by Council Member Kerkhoff and seconded by Council Member Buckley to approve the City Council work session agenda for Tuesday, October 29, 2019. Motion was carried by unanimous vote.
Public Works Project Coordinator Doering gave a brief update on the Dekalb Street Project.
Mr. Doering also stated the CSAH 101 Bridge Construction project is still on schedule at this time.
City Administrator Muetzel gave an update on the pedestrian crossing at Lincoln Street and Bridge Street. Mr. Muetzel stated Bolton & Menk completed the survey work at the intersection to determine if the pedestrian crossing system could be installed and still maintain ADA compliance. Owen Todd with Bolton & Menk stated his preliminary opinion is that it would be difficult to the maintain ADA compliance if the current business sign remains in place.
Mr. Muetzel stated he would communicate with the owners of the property located at 322 E. Bridge St. to discuss the options to remove or relocate the sign.
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 ¬¬¬¬6:51 p.m. Motion passed by unanimous vote.