July 13, 2021 Council Meeting and Work Session Update

You can also view this and previous posts HERE

Agenda (click to open)

View the meeting

Election update:

I went through the state election statute and it looked to me like we didn't need to have an election independent of our normal Sep/Nov 2022 pattern. I spoke to our election person at city hall and she spoke to our attorney, and it appears that's correct. So we rescinded our previous election dates decision. It appears that our ordinance is also out of date so we will be updating that and setting the new date of the special election to coincide with the next regular election.

So at the election in 2022 will be 2 four year council seats, a two year council seat (to fill former councilman Okerlund's remaining time), and the two year mayor seat.

Work session (water treatment)

Given that I grew up and have lived in three different areas of the city, I am very aware of the fact that Dayton water is loaded with iron. I can tell by feel and smell when our water softener is low on salt. When I fill my pool in the spring it's crystal clear... until I put the chlorine tablets in. Then in a matter of hours it's chocolate brown. A few days of sand filtering (it's a big pool) and the particles are cleaned out.

When the water comes out of the ground, the iron and Manganese are ionized. It's there but you can't see it. A water softener can take it out when it's in this form or it can be converted to particles when exposed to chlorine. As with my pool, the city is required to treat the water with chlorine. The result is brown water. And again, as with my pool, the water needs to be filtered out to get it clear again.

This work session was really a presentation of 3 solutions from a company that specializes in large scale solutions.

Solution 1: Home-based. The filtering system would be at the home. Either put in by the developer or the home owner.

Solution 2: Well head. The filtering would be done at each well. Some wells could be done together.

Solution 3: Central. This would require all the wells to feed a central filter plant.

While we seemed to be in agreement that the well head solution was better all around than the central solution, I don't think it went farther than that. I personally feel we need to explore the home solution at least for the short term.

That boils down to home-based versus wellhead systems.

Some of my concerns:

  • A wellhead system means more debt. The estimate is $4M for each, and it's clear our estimates aren't always very accurate. And that debt would raise our water prices... which are already the highest (by far) in the area.
  • All of our homes (whether they know it or not) will need a water softener. And while a water softener can catch some of this, many of these systems ALSO come with a filtering system to filter out the remaining particulates.
  • The company that presented the information is in competition with home systems.
  • Their home-based price assumptions seem very high to what I've seen.
  • Many of our homes already have a home treatment system.

That said.... I agree that in the long run filtering the water at the source would be more cost efficient. But until we get our debt under control and more homes on the system (that does NOT mean I'm in a hurry to do that), I'd need more convincing that now is the correct time to do so.

If you want more specifics, or have an opinion, or have your own whole home filtration system, please contact me.

Item J: Purchasing policy

This item came up a few meetings back. For the most part it deals with how staff is allowed to make purchasing decisions. The controversial part was on allowing employees to bid on and receive contracts. I have stated in the past that I think there are ethical boundaries that this city (especially given our history) needs to pay attention to and this one bothers me.

There are many reasons private companies don't allow this practice. A very basic reason is that it is too easy for an employee to rig a bid. Whether or not this happening (or has happened) isn't the issue.

The other side felt that we could save money by allowing it.

There were proposals to try to allow it, such as having the applicant sign an affidavit stating their price was the best price. I'm not sure how that would work.

The decision (Dennis, Scott, Dave versus Julie, Travis) was to not allow it.

Item K: Moving some properties from 2020 staging to 2030

This one came up previously (here). You might want to look at that to get an understanding of what's going on in that area, there are a tremendous amount of details. I still think we are at risk of decimating that Master Planned Development, but the council (and the planning commission) didn't seem too worried about it. And as was brought up by a few people, maybe that's not a good spot for it regardless. The vote (5-0) was to not move it.

Item L: This item was pulled from the agenda.

Item M: Residential district code updates

This one has a lot of verbage associated with it. If you want to scroll through the code with the changes proposed, you can see it in the agenda. The primary changes the council was looking for was to some of the lot dimensions (setbacks) for new houses. There was a work session (here) that discussed those changes.

Item N: PUD changes

Again, referring back to the joint planning / council meeting would give some background (here). The bottom line is that a development can be proposed and comply with our zoning requirements or it can come in as a PUD. A PUD allows the city to negotiate with the developer so they give some, and the city gives some. What a few of us are wanting is to negotiate harder. The problem is that each development is unique and what to give in on and what to require is not easily put into an ordinance.

Item P: Planning and Park Commission openings

For Planning, the 2 members that were up were also the only applicants so they were reappointed.

For Parks, only 1 of the 2 members reapplied in time so he was reappointed. If we do not receive enough applicants to fill a seat we typically will fill it when an application is made. In this case there were 2 applications and we appointed David Pikal to the open seat.

Item Q: Resignation of the Fire Chief

While he will stay on as a firefighter, chief Mickelson will be stepping down as chief at the end of the year. The council thanked him for his service to our city.