City Council Minutes of September 11, 2017

Date: 
September 11, 2017

MINUTES OF THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING

SEPTEMBER 11, 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 September 11, 2017.

A quorum present, Mayor Zieman called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.  The following members were present:  Councilmembers Carlin, Pfeifer, Brand, Kvamme, Grams, and Mayor Zieman.  Absent was Councilmember Parras.  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 Brand, to approve the agenda.  With all in favor, the motion carried.

Approval of Minutes – A motion was made by Carlin, seconded by Pfeifer, to approve the minutes of the August 28, 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 August 28, 2017 regular City Council meeting is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Proceedings 19.

Consent Agenda – In motion by Grams, seconded by Carlin, Resolution No. 2017-139 entitled “Resolution Approving Consent Agenda“ was introduced.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-139 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

2017 Preliminary Tax Levy Collectible In 2018 – Finance Director O'Connell reviewed the proposed 2017 preliminary tax levy which indicated a tax increase of 8.35%.  O’Connell reminded the Council the preliminary levy must be certified to the County by the end of September and the final levy, which would be considered by the Council in December, could be less than or equal to the preliminary levy, but it could not be higher.

O’Connell reviewed the various components of the levy including general fund, special revenue funds, and debt service obligations and stated that every $10,000 in changes would equate to a .20 percent change in the tax rate.  O’Connell also noted that the proposed levy increase would equate to a $32.22 per year increase in City taxes on a $150,000 home or $108.47 increase on a $250,000 commercial property.  O’Connell stated that when tax capacity numbers are known the Council will review the potential of a portion of the fund balance pay for purchases which are preliminarily planned for an equipment certificate or reassigning $100,000 to the sidewalk program.  O’Connell’s report also included information on fund reserve projections; building permit revenue projections; changes in local government aid allocations; increases in employee health insurance premiums; transfers to the General Fund from certain enterprise funds; the insurance fund; and possible fee modifications which will be proposed later in the fall.

Councilmember Brand expressed his belief that the City’s fees, which he believes have not been substantially increased in a number of years, should reflect the actual increases in costs the same as private businesses raise costs.

Councilmember Carlin objected to the additional $100,000 for sidewalk improvements not being included in the preliminary levy and asked to have that funding included.

Mayor Zieman asked what dollar amount the 15.2% increase in health insurance premiums equaled.  City Administrator Prafke indicated the actual cost increase was $140,000.

In motion by Kvamme, seconded by Brand, Resolution No. 2017-140 entitled “Resolution Adopting Preliminary 2017 Tax Levy Collectible In 2018“ was introduced.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-140 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

City Code Modification:  Keeping of Honeybees – City Administrator Prafke provided information on the request made previously by a local resident to modify City regulations to allow for keeping of honeybees on private property.  Prafke noted the draft ordinance allowed for the keeping of up to two hives with additional regulations regarding location of the hives from property lines, water sources, notice to neighboring properties within 100’; beekeeping training; and flyaway barriers.  Prafke also recommended any City Code change become effective April 1, 2018. 

Emily Bruflat, 317 West Grace Street, addressed the Council.  As the property owner who had requested the City Code modification, Bruflat indicated that several people had expressed support for her request and she appreciated the Council’s willingness to consider the change.  Bruflat also expressed some concerns related to the ordinance language and said she hoped to have the “opportunity for tweaks and changes as we move forward”.

Laura Lindell, 742 Sioux Lane, addressed the Council in support of the proposed change as she felt the keeping of honeybees strengthens the ecosystem and that beekeeping was a specialized “art” that is good to pass on to younger people.  Lindell also stated her belief that the practice helps anchor homeowners in the community.

James Dontje, 742 Sioux Lane, also expressed support for allowing keeping of honeybees and stated that bees are already in the community as evidenced by a large group of bees that appeared in a tree in his backyard and his belief that the lack of honeybees was becoming a nationwide concern.

Councilmember Kvamme asked for several modifications to the language in the ordinance.

Councilmember Pfeifer expressed his opposition to the change indicating that if people wanted to keep chickens and bees and other animals it was better suited to a hobby farm outside of the city.  Pfeifer also expressed concerns for the safety of the three percent of the population for whom bee stings could be deadly.

Councilmember Brand read an extensive amount of information concerning honeybees and the negative impact on the “native pollinators” including passing on of infectious diseases and the amount of pollen collected by the bees to the detriment of the “native pollinators”.

Councilmember Carlin disagreed with some of Brand’s comments and stated that it was “unlikely 1-2 hives would cause any negative impact to the native pollinators”.  Carlin encouraged the Council to consider the fact that without honeybees many of the fruits and vegetables consumed would not be pollinated.

Councilmember Grams relayed his discussion with an entomologist that told him “European honeybees decimate the food source for native pollinators” and the honeybees are voracious pollen eaters that consume the food chain for native pollinators and the bees have done more to destroy the native pollinators than any other insect.

Councilmember Carlin again disagreed and stated that the entire North American food supply hinges on the honeybee and 2-8 hives will have zero impact on the ecosystem.

Mayor Zieman expressed his belief that the hives should not allowed in Saint Peter as bee hives in the City could be fatal for some residents.

In motion by Kvamme, seconded by Carlin, Ordinance No. 34, Third Series entitled “An Ordinance Amending Saint Peter City Code Chapter 8 ‘Animals’, Article IV “Farm, Wild, And Exotic Animals’ And Adopting By Reference Saint Peter City Code Chapter 1, Section 1-6, Which, Among Other Things, Contain Penalty Provisions“ was introduced with the language changes requested by Kvamme.  Upon roll call, Councilmembers Carlin and Kvamme voting aye, Councilmembers Brand, Pfeifer, Grams, and Mayor Zieman voting nay, the Ordinance was defeated. 

As the ordinance did not pass, the Council took no action to establish a permit fee for keeping of honeybees.

City Assistance Request:  Homecoming Parade – City Administrator Prafke recommended approval be provided for the high school homecoming parade scheduled for September 22nd.  Prafke noted the staging would take place on the 100-200 blocks of North Third Street and the parade would begin at the intersection of Broadway Avenue/South Third Street and travel south on Third Street before turning west on Grace Street and ending at the Lincoln Drive intersection.  Prafke stated City assistance included traffic control and barricades to block intersections.  Councilmember Brand suggested the parade was better suited to take place in Community Spirit Park.  Councilmember Carlin suggested that parade staging take place in the Veteran’s Memorial Park (swimming pool) parking lots for smaller parades such as homecoming.   In motion by Pfeifer, seconded by Grams, Resolution No. 2017-141 entitled “Resolution Authorizing City Assistance For High School Homecoming Parade“ was introduced.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-141 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

Wells Fargo and Company Divestment – City Administrator Prafke presented a resolution that would direct staff to, through attrition, divest all City investments with Wells Fargo and Company and make no further investments with Wells Fargo without additional consideration by the City Council. 

Councilmember Pfeifer expressed opposition to the action stating that whatever action the City would take would have little effect on the company and it was in the City’s best interest to only consider investments with a company if the investments are secure and taking into consideration the dividend earned by the investment for the betterment of the community.

Councilmember Grams expressed his support for the divestment and stated his belief that “as a group it was important to make a stand on certain issues and be socially conscious about where we invest”.

Mayor Zieman indicated he originally agreed with Councilmember Pfeifer, but with the continued problems being uncovered with Wells Fargo’s business practices he saw no reason to continue doing business with the company.

Councilmember Brand indicated his belief that unless the City changes how and who it does business with nothing will change and taking the action sends a clear message.  Brand also indicated that the action would send a message to future generations that the City Council stood for something.

Councilmember Kvamme asked that the resolution language be changed to state “…no further investments with Wells Fargo and related companies for a year at which time the City Council will further review.”

Councilmember Brand objected to the one year term and stated he can’t support the resolution unless the period is longer.

In motion by Kvamme, seconded by Pfeifer, Resolution No. 2017-142 entitled “Resolution Directing Divestment Of Funds From Wells Fargo And Company“ was introduced with the language change.  Upon roll call, Councilmembers Kvamme, Grams, Carlin and Mayor Zieman voting aye; Councilmembers Pfeifer and Brand voting nay, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted as modified.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-142 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

Revolving Loan Requests:  Azure Skye LLC (Tamika Bertram) – Community Development Director Wille presented the Economic Development Authority recommendation for approval of a $25,000 revolving loan to Azure Skye, LLC, the real estate holding company for the properties at 301 and 303 South Minnesota Avenue.  Wille noted the recommendation was for approval of $25,000 at zero percent (0%) interest; amortized over ten (10) years; and collateral provided by a subordinate mortgage on the properties, a personal guarantee by Tamika Bertram, and an insurance policy on the real estate naming the City of Saint Peter as an additional insured. Councilmember Kvamme requested clarification on the language for the insurance policy to indicate the insurance must be on the replacement value of the property.  In motion by Brand, seconded by Grams, Resolution No. 2017-143 entitled “Resolution Approving A $25,000 Central Business District/Accessibility Enhancement Revolving Loan To Azure Skye, LLC To Partially Finance The Repair And Renovation To 301 South Minnesota Avenue“ was introduced with the language changes.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted as modified.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-143 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

Councilmember Pfeifer left the room at 8:46 p.m.

MnDOT Highway 169 Project Detour Agreement – City Administrator Prafke presented the request by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to enter into a detour agreement for a 32 day window during the 2018 Highway 169 project.  Prafke noted that the detour would be for the limited period when the intersection of Highway 22/Highway 169 was not open and would detour traffic onto Old Minnesota Avenue and then St. Julien Street to Highway 169.  Prafke also noted that the agreement provided for reimbursement to the City for loss of road life and maintenance during the detour period. 

Councilmember Pfeifer returned at 8:48 p.m.

Councilmember Brand asked for a list of stop signs being changed as part of the detour.  City Administrator Prafke indicated no stop signs were being changed and directed Council attention to the drawings contained within the agreement that showed all the sign changes that would occur on the detour route.

Councilmember Brand stated that unless he was able to see every traffic condition ahead of time he would not support the detour agreement and reminded everyone of the fatality that occurred the last time the City entered into a detour agreement.

Mayor Zieman noted that the last detour agreement included changes in traffic patterns that would not be present for the 2018 project. 

A motion was made by Brand to table action until such time as MnDOT provided a written guarantee of changes to stop signs along the detour.  The motion died for lack of a second.

In motion by Kvamme, seconded by Carlin, Resolution No. 2017-144 entitled “Resolution Authorizing Execution Of Detour Agreement With Minnesota Department Of Transportation For 2018 Trunk Highway 169 Project“ was introduced.  Upon roll call, Councilmembers Pfeifer, Grams, Carlin, Kvamme and Mayor Zieman voting aye; Councilmember Brand voting nay, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-144 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

MMUA Safety Program Renewal – City Administrator Prafke recommended execution of a renewal safety program agreement with the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association in the total amount of $28,729.66.  Prafke noted the contract had been in place for almost 20 years and the program worked very well to increase the safety of City employees and keep the City’s insurance experience modification rate very low.  Councilmember Kvamme questioned the difference between the price indicated in the resolution and the price on the contract ($3,000 difference).  City Administrator Prafke indicated he believed the price in the resolution included the additional costs for the specialized Linemen training, but he would verify that and confirm to the Council at a later date.  Prafke suggested the resolution be modified to indicate the $28,729.66 was a “not to exceed” amount.

In motion by Kvamme, seconded by Brand, Resolution No. 2017-145 entitled “Resolution Authorizing Execution Of Renewal Safety Contract With Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA)“ was introduced with the “not to exceed” language.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted as modified.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-145 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

PALS Program Health Assessment Contract – Recreation and Leisure Services Director Timmerman requested authorization for execution of a contract with Nicollet County Public Health to provide the required health assessments for participants in the Partners In Active Living for Seniors (PALS) program.  Timmerman noted that as per the City Council’s workshop discussion she had asked River's Edge Hospital and Clinic to provide the assessments and they had declined.  In motion by Pfeifer, seconded by Brand, Resolution No. 2017-146 entitled “Resolution Authorizing Execution Of Contract With Nicollet County Public Health For PALS Program Health Assessments“ was introduced.  Upon roll call, with all in favor, the Resolution was declared passed and adopted.  A complete copy of Resolution No. 2017-146 is contained in the City Administrator’s book entitled Council Resolutions 21.

Reports

Mayor’s Report – Mayor Zieman reported good attendance at the Rock Bend Folk Festival and indicated he had attended the reception for Saint Peter’s Emily Annexstad who had been designated as the newest Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

Minnesota River Valley Transit Meeting Schedule – City Administrator Prafke reminded Councilmembers of the September 13th Minnesota River Valley Transit Board meeting which will be held in Le Sueur beginning at 2:30 p.m.

Hurricane Disaster Assistance – City Administrator Prafke reported he had provided assistance through the Texas municipal insurance pool to cities affected by Hurricane Harvey and staff had conducted a bake sale with proceeds going to hurricane assistance.  Prafke also noted the large donation to the bake sale from the Pfeiffer Club at the Senior Center.

Ameresco Project Financing -  City Administrator Prafke reported the action to designate the financing source for the Ameresco energy savings project had been delayed by bond counsel review and action was planned for the September 25, 2017 regular meeting.

There being no further business, a motion was made by Pfeifer, seconded by Carlin, to adjourn.  With all in favor, the motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 9:13 p.m.