Jan 26, 2021 Council Meeting and Work Session Update.

Agenda (Click to open)

Agenda approval

Due to the complexity and amount of other items on the agenda, and my belief that item O (Fee schedule) wouldn't get the time it deserved, we agreed to pull item O from the agenda. It will likely be discussed at the next meeting or a work session.

One of the Council members mentioned they were confused by the streaming Open Forum item at the last meeting and under the impression it was only to discuss the issue. We agreed to add a discussion as an agenda item at a future meeting.

Open Forum

A resident was concerned that presidential campaign signs were still up on private property. Staff's opinion was, it's legal.

Ice Rinks

Marty from public works says they're in good condition! A couple of warm days can derail that so go while you can...

Item I (Dayton Parkway Interchange Construction Update)

This was a summary of where the project is at and where it's going.

A few items of note:

    • The project had a $1M buffer designed in for surprises. Anything to do with ground preparation has a higher risk of surprises. Given that most of the grading is complete, we seem to be in good shape. $250k has been used so far.
    • There is still a condemnation ruling pending. This apparently has to do with the value of a property the city took for the project. Unfortunately, I suspect there was also some bad blood between the owner and the city. It's not the first time that sort of stuff has come back to bite the city. This could eat into some of that buffer.
    • BNSF has a lot of power and they're trying to wield it. The track crossing still needs work and we'll need their permission. Possibly more buffer eaten up.
    • The project sounds like it's on track and, so far, under budget.

Item J (French Lake Infrastructure Feasibility Study)

This specific area is between Brockton lane, French lake, and County Road 81.

Graco has announced they will be starting development soon on the north end.

This area is where we expect a LOT of commercial development to happen. Some of the infrastructure can go in as development happens. Unfortunately, some of the infrastructure needs to be in place before hand. And the bulk of that (cost wise) will be roads.

With regards to early infrastructure funding, several ideas were floated. The final answer will likely be a mix of some of these:

    • Area assessments, as was done on the interchange.
      • This was a non-starter for a few of us. I am ok with investors helping fund a project that directly benefits them, but it's going to be a cold day in hades before I sign up to hit friends and neighbors like that again. Unfortunately, the methodology the courts have allowed (and in a way, forced) cities to use makes it a very unpalatable route.
    • Adjacent property assessments.
      • Given this directly lands on investment groups, it's a possible route.
    • City Assisted.
      • TIF. For those of you unfamiliar with TIF, it basically allows a property to keep the bulk of the property tax it pays for 9 or so years to help finance the project.
    • Bonding
      • This was also not looked at favorably by some members. The intent would be to bond (borrow) for the infrastructure, then directly tie a chunk of the tax levy (likely the increase from the adjacent properties) to paying that bond.
      • Of all the options, this carries the most risk. For those of you around in 2006... you know this risk. What if you build it... and they don't come? We are already in debt up to our eyeballs due to that earlier decision.
    • Municipal State Aid Monies.
      • Well, this would have been nice. Unfortunately, we borrowed $1M against this for the Pineview extras. Which means, it's not available to us for years to come.

Yes, now that we have our interchange, we want those commercial properties to flow in. We will just have to get a handle on the safest ways to finance and coordinate all the needs.

Item K (Dog Registration)

This discussion went on for a little longer than I had hoped. But... the end result is we'll probably remove the requirement or modify it substantially.

So far, my understanding is we have approximately 90 dogs registered. My guess is we have well over 1500 dogs in the city, which means we have a law on the books that is almost totally ignored. Those make for very bad laws for a number of reasons.

Every year or so this comes up, and there's a short discussion about "fixing" it but it's never fixed. Hopefully now it'll get fixed.

Item L (City Council Device Purchase Option)

Well, this didn't come out as I had hoped either.

For those of you watching the meetings, you'll notice that I have found it beneficial to have my laptop at the meeting. I will have the agenda open, quick access to the hundreds of pages in the agenda, maps of any property we're discussing, and my notes on the agenda topics.

There have been concerns of putting our personal pieces of equipment at risk due to litigation.

Unfortunately the IT group suggested iPads. For those that have followed the city council long enough know this was tried roughly 8 years ago and failed. Given how I have that much stuff open at the same time, that's not a solution for me and other members of the council.

We ended up agreeing to an equipment stipend.

Item M (Interim Use Permit for a Veterans Outpatient Treatment Facility)

This allows Magnus Veterans Foundation to continue on their vision! (yes, click the link!)

My only issue here is, I am not a fan of Interum Use Permits (IUP). IUPs give an enormous amount of power to the city rather than the property owner. That's why cities like them. I prefer Conditional Use Permits (CUP). Both of these instruments require the property owner to meet certain conditions. Unfortunately the IUP is ONLY granted to the current applicant. So if a merger or transfer occurs, a future council hostile to that applicant can simply not grant the permit. A CUP is granted to the property itself. As an example, a hobby farm with a CUP can tell a potential buyer they can continue their hobby farm. That same owner with an IUP can't.

Item N (City Council Vacancy Discussion)

My election resulted in me vacating my council seat midterm. State statute doesn't prescribe how a council replaces a member if less than half of their term remains. In other words, we can do it any way we please. As a start, the remaining 4 on the council decided to take applications. We received four, two of which were also the 3rd and 4th place candidates from the council election. I know all four and didn't feel interviews would be necessary, as did the remaining council members.

Here's what went into my decision:

    • I give a significant amount of consideration to those that go through the hard work of a campaign. For that, both Scott Salonek and Dave Fashant get consideration.
    • The outgoing mayor and at least one outgoing council member repeatedly stressed how important experience would be for this council. For that both Scott Salonek (4 years on council) and Dave Fashant (6 years on Parks and Public Safety) get consideration.
    • During the campaign, when I was asked how I would fill the vacancy, I made it clear I would give significant deference to what the voters wanted in that I would likely pick the third place candidate. In this election, Travis took 2nd ahead of Scott by 33 votes. So 17 people separated Scott from second place.
    • In my personal contacts with people, I had roughly two people recommending Scott for every one against.
    • Finally, for those that say Scott has lost too many times, I lost twice before I won my council seat. The first loss was against a highly funded machine that gave us our current debt. The second loss was simply due to me backing off once I realized I would prefer the other candidate to myself 🙂

I served with Dave Fashant on the Public Safety commission and think very highly of him, and I sincerely hope to see his name on the next election slate.

The votes were two for Dave Fashant and two for Scott Salonek. Given my vote carries more weight for a council appointment, Scott was selected.

Item P (Closed Session)

The only thing I'll say about this is, it was to discuss an employee matter.