City Council Minutes of March 27, 2017

Date: 
March 27, 2017

MINUTES OF THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING

MARCH 27, 2017

 

Pursuant to due call and notice thereof, a regular meeting of the City Council of the City of Saint Peter was conducted in the Governors' Room of the Community Center on March 27, 2017.

A quorum present, Mayor Zieman called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.  The following members were present:  Councilmembers Grams, Brand, Carlin, Kvamme, Pfeifer, Parras and Mayor Zieman.  The following officials were present: City Administrator Prafke, City Attorney Brandt and City Engineers Domras and Loose.

Approval of Agenda – A motion was made by Pfeifer, seconded by Parras, to approve the agenda.  With all in favor, the motion carried.

Approval of Minutes – A motion was made by Brand, seconded by Parras, to approve the minutes of the March 13, 2017 regular City Council meeting.  With all in favor, the motion carried and the minutes were approved.  A complete copy of the minutes of the March 13, 2017 regular City Council meeting is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Proceedings 19.

Consent Agenda – In motion by Kvamme, seconded by Grams, Resolution No. 2017-44 entitled, “Resolution Approving Consent Agenda“, was introduced. Councilmember Carlin questioned why some of the alley work would be assessed to abutting property owners and some was being paid by the City.  City Administrator Prafke indicated that the Council had changed the assessment policy approximately five years prior and certain alley entrances are now being funded by the City.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-44 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

Revolving Loan Term Modification:  St. Peter Community Childcare Center – Community Development Director Wille reported that at the last Council meeting the Economic Development Authority (EDA) recommendation to approve a request by St. Peter Community Childcare Center (SPC3) for extension of the balloon payment date on a revolving loan contingent upon an increase in the interest rate from 0% to 3.75% had been tabled.  Wille stated the request by the Council at that time was to renegotiate with SPC3 to leave the interest rate at 0% and increase the monthly payments to $350 per month.  Wille indicated SPC3 was agreeable to the 0% interest with the increased monthly payments to be effective April 1st and noted that the resolution would have to be modified to provide for that action.  A motion was made by Kvamme, seconded by Parras, to introduce Resolution No. 2017-45 entitled “Resolution Modifying The Terms Of A Revolving Loan Previously Made To St. Peter Community Childcare Center“ with a modification to leave the interest rate at 0% and to increase the monthly payments to $350 effective April 1, 2017.  Upon roll call, Councilmembers Carlin, Kvamme, Parras and Mayor Zieman voting aye, Councilmembers Brand, Pfeifer and Grams voting nay, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-45 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

2017 River's Edge Hospital and Clinic Expansion Project – River's Edge Hospital and Clinic CEO Rohrich addressed the Council to request authorization for submission of a loan application to USDA Rural Development for funding in the amount of $28,645,000 for expansion of the Hospital for a total project cost of $31,250,000 with the remaining funding coming from the Hospital reserves.  Rohrich reviewed the planning that has gone into the proposed expansion project which began in 2016 with development of a Master Facility Plan, and provided drawings showing the proposed changes to the facility which is being designed to allow the Hospital to provide more services to the Saint Peter community.  Rohrich noted that the Hospital is mostly full and expansion will allow more community members who need hospitalization to be admitted which will hopefully eliminate the need to turn local patients away because the hospital is full.  Rohrich and City Administrator Prafke pointed out that the requested action is just one step in a long process that will continue to require action by the City Council.  Prafke stated the process the City and Hospital are taking is a “measured, methodical approach” to the expansion project.

Rohrich and Prafke also discussed the benefit of USDA loans versus general obligation bonds stating that the USDA funds are backed by the government and not local taxpayers.  Rohrich also noted that, if approved, the USDA loan would allow the existing hospital debt ($10,000,000-$11,000,000) to be rolled into the loan which would eliminate any remaining risk to taxpayers from the original building debt.

Councilmember Grams questioned what the Hospital’s cash balance would be after payment of the $2,996,000 Hospital share of the cost.  Rohrich estimated, based on the current cash balance, that $7-8,000,000 would be left and that the current cash on hand was 110 days which was substantially over the National Rural Health Standard of 50 days of cash on hand.

Mayor Zieman questioned when construction would start.  Rohrich reviewed the possible timetable for approval of USDA funding with late fall being the earliest approval date which would not allow for construction until spring of 2018.  (The project title will be changed to “2018 River's Edge Hospital and Clinic Expansion Project” to reflect the 2018 versus the 2017 project timeline which originally anticipated.)

Councilmember Kvamme also noted that there were other funding options available for the project should the USDA funding not be approved. 

City Administrator Prafke noted there were four actions being recommended including establishing the maximum project cost at $31,250,000; authorization for preparation of a loan application to USDA in the amount of $28,645,000; directing the Project Architect to proceed with development of project schematics which would be needed for the loan application; and appointing two members of the City Council to a Construction Manager Selection Subcommittee to serve with two members of the Hospital Commission.

Councilmembers discussed which members would be appointed to the Subcommittee with Councilmembers Carlin, Pfeifer, Grams, and Mayor Zieman expressing interest in the position.

In motion by Zieman, seconded by Brand, Resolution No. 2017-46 entitled “Resolution Directing Staff Action Related To 2017 River's Edge Hospital and Clinic Expansion Project“ was introduced with the appointments of Councilmembers Pfeifer and Grams as the appointees to the Subcommittee.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-46 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

Fire Hall Location Study Acceptance – City Administrator Prafke recommended the Council formally accept the Fire Hall Location Study completed by Five Bugles Design that had been presented at the March 20, 2017 workshop.  Prafke also recommended that staff be directed to proceed with the space needs study.  Councilmember Kvamme encouraged the public to review the Location Study which had used global positioning systems (GPS) to establish recommended locations based on actual fire call locations for the past five years, future growth of the community, and other data.  In motion by Carlin, seconded by Parras, Resolution No. 2017-47 entitled “Resolution Accepting Fire Hall Location Study“ was introduced.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-47 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

Investment Policy Modifications – Finance Director O'Connell requested minor changes to the City’s investment policy to add references to Minnesota Statutes 118A regarding “qualified brokers”, acceptance of certificates of deposits and reporting requirements.  City Administrator Prafke indicated the investment policy is important as the City’s Auditors report on whether the policy is being followed by staff. 

Councilmember Brand reported he had asked at the workshop session where the policy was first reviewed to consider a “moratorium against Wells Fargo” that had been found guilty by the US Government of several bad practices in the past three years.  Brand indicated he had changed his mind and now felt that no single financial institution should be singled out and instead a “values based investment” policy should be developed.  Brand indicated that by working with other people in the community who felt it was not acceptable to invest with certain companies, he had developed a draft policy that he had earlier provided to Councilmembers that would take into consideration values-based concerns such as:  environmental (deforestation, sustainability); abusive labor practices; corrupt corporate ethics and governance; extreme tax avoidance; exercising a level of market dominance so as to disrupt normal competitive market forces; and human rights.  Brand encouraged the City Council to adopt a policy that would not allow investment in any entity that within the past three years has been found guilty of a crime; ordered to pay a penalty of $10,000,000 or more; and/or has agreed to a settlement including a penalty of ten million dollars or more.  Brand further requested that a policy be established that would apply an “ESG” score to each entity on how they deal with human rights issues, consumer protection, and clearly illegal criminal activities.  Brand encouraged the Council to recognize that “the City’s current policy is flawed and doesn’t reflect who we are as a community.”

Councilmember Carlin indicated her belief that Brand raised a few good issues, but felt that the issues were not related to the discussion in front of the Council.  Carlin suggested Brand’s ideas be discussed at a different time such as a goal session.  City Administrator Prafke indicated discussion could be included at the next goal session in May and if the Council so directed the policy could be changed again later.

In motion by Carlin, seconded by Parras, Resolution No. 2017-48 entitled “Resolution Adopting Updated Investment Policy“ was introduced.  Upon roll call, Councilmembers Kvamme, Pfeifer, Grams, Parras, Carlin and Mayor Zieman voting aye, Councilmember Brand voting nay, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-48 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

Finance Department Staffing Modification – Finance Director O'Connell requested changes to staffing in the Finance Department to eliminate the part-time Payroll Clerk position and to create a full-time Office Assistant position that would allow for additional help.  O’Connell noted that staff had reviewed the possibility of outsourcing some of the duties, but the cost would be the same as adding a full-time person without the benefit of someone to help fill in for other duties in Finance.  Councilmember Kvamme suggested that the job description for the new position should be changed to include knowledge of other languages as a desired qualification.   City Administrator Prafke stated that if the Council would provide staff latitude to include language after review as to which language(s) would be most beneficial in the position he would modify the desired qualifications.  In motion by Pfeifer, seconded by Carlin, Resolution No. 2017-49 entitled “Resolution Modifying Finance Department Staffing By The Creation Of An Office Assistant Position“ was introduced including addition of a desired qualification for speaking other languages.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-49 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

2017 Community Center Flooring Project Bid Award – City Administrator Prafke recommended awarding the bid for the 2017 Community Center Flooring Project to Berger Interiors of Saint Peter in the amount of $63,000.  Prafke noted that $69,000 had been budgeted for the project in 2016, but a decision had been made to delay the project to avoid the winter weather impact on the new flooring.  Prafke also noted that the contractor will be required to work with staff to schedule installation at a time that will be the least disruptive to the users and tenants in the building. In motion by Grams, seconded by Parras, Resolution No. 2017-50 entitled “Resolution Awarding Bid For 2017 Community Center Flooring Project“ was introduced.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-50 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

Authorizing For Dogs/Cats In Certain Parks – City Administrator Prafke presented the recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board to allow dogs in certain City owned parks and conservancy areas (Riverside Park, Riverside Park Extension, Traverse des Sioux Park, McGill Park, Hallett’s Pond on the trail only; and Public Conservancy Area in Nicollet Meadows 2 Subdivision directly west of Jefferson Park).  Prafke noted staff had included cats in the resolution as the last time the Council authorized animals in the Mill Pond area cats had been included.  Prafke also pointed out that the authorization was contingent upon the pets being licensed, leashed and the owners picking up after the animals and the effective date would be May 1, 2017.  Councilmember Pfeifer objected to allowing animals at Hallett’s Pond area and McGill Park which he felt “didn’t fit” with allowing dogs in other parks.  Councilmember Kvamme expressed his agreement to that sentiment and questioned whether the Council would be informed on how having dogs in the parks was working especially at Hallett’s Pond and McGill Park.

Councilmembers spent time discussing the responsibilities of dog owners in picking up after their animals and that owners will need to be compliant to continue allowing these animals in the parks.  City Administrator Prafke pointed out that staff will promote the need for owners to follow the regulations, will monitor compliance and, if need be, report back to the Council.

In motion by Kvamme, seconded by Carlin, Resolution No. 2017-51 entitled “Resolution Allowing Leashed Dogs And Cats On Certain City Owned Property As Authorized By City Code Section 8-83“ was introduced with the request that a report be made to the Council on how the authorization is working.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-51 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

Annexstad Agricultural Lease Renewal – City Attorney Brandt recommended authorization be provided for execution of a one growing season lease between the City and Brett R. Annexstad for farming the 11 acre Outlot A of the Magner Farm Subdivision at the same rental price as in 2016 ($150 per acre).  Brandt noted that having the acreage farmed eliminated the expense the City would have incurred to mow and remove weeds on the property.  In motion by Pfeifer, seconded by Parras, Resolution No. 2017-52 entitled “Resolution Authorizing Execution Of A One-Year Lease Of Outlot A, Magner Farm Second Subdivision By And Between The City Of Saint Peter And Brett R. Annexstad“ was introduced.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-52 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

Wastewater Treatment Ponds Listing Agreement – City Administrator Prafke recommended Coldwell Banker Commercial–Fisher Group be retained to market the City’s former wastewater treatment pond property in Le Sueur County at a list price of $515,000 for 4.5% commission through December 14, 2017.  Prafke noted that the agreement specifically excluded sale to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) due to the City’s previous negotiations with the DNR for sale of the property.  Prafke noted the City had been unable to come to agreement on sale of the property to the DNR as the price offered was below the appraised price.  Prafke informed the Council that the DNR oftentimes buys land at less than appraised value which allows the seller to get a tax break, but the City wasn’t entitled to the tax breaks.  Prafke also noted that the DNR sale would have required the City to include the land used for the Police Department’s firing range and would have required the City to provide for removal of not only the spent bullets, but also the berm surrounding the firing range.  Finally, Prafke pointed out that approving execution of the listing agreement did not authorize sale of the property and that any offer would have to be accepted by formal City Council action in the future.  In motion by Carlin, seconded by Parras, Resolution No. 2017-53 entitled “Resolution Authorizing Execution Of Real Estate Listing Agreement By And Between The City And Coldwell Banker Commercial-Fisher Group For The Sale Of The City’s Former Wastewater Treatment Ponds“ was introduced.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-53 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

Reports

Mayor’s Report – Mayor Zieman reported on the good turnout at the St. Patrick’s Day parade and encouraged community members to attend the Vietnam Veteran’s Day ceremony at the Community Center on March 29th.

Report on March 13th Closed Session – City Administrator Prafke briefly recapped the discussion at the March 13th closed session on sale of the wastewater treatment ponds which involved negotiations that were unsuccessful between the City and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Legislative Hearings – City Administrator Prafke and Councilmember Brand reported on their activities testifying before House and Senate committees for housing activities in the state and for funding for the Minnesota Square Pavilion replacement. 

Board of Appeals and Equalization Meeting Schedule - City Administrator Prafke reminded Councilmembers of the April 4th Board of Appeals and Equalization meeting at 6:00 p.m. at the Nicollet County Government Center.

Solar Subscription Project Schedule Update  – City Administrator Prafke reported he had attended and participated in the Interfaith Power and Light public forum on solar power.  Prafke reported that action on the City’s solar subscription project would be before the Council in the next 1-2 meetings.

City Administrator Prafke reminded the City Council that the Board of Zoning Appeals would meet on April 13th at 5:30 p.m.

Prafke also encouraged any Councilmembers interested in participating in the SMMPA “Spring Fling” event on March 30th in Austin to contact the Public Works Department as soon as possible.

Councilmember Kvamme reminded the public of the anniversary of Saint Peter’s tornado on March 29th.

There being no further business, a motion was made by Pfeifer, seconded by Brand, to adjourn.  With all in favor, the motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 8:31 p.m.