Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Olivia City Council Meeting Minutes - November 15, 2021 - City of Olivia, MN

REGULAR MEETING MINUTES

Monday, November 15, 2021

CALL TO ORDER AND DETERMINATION OF A QUORUM

The Regular Meeting of the City Council of the City of Olivia, Minnesota, was called to order by Mayor Hawkinson at 7:00 P.M.

Council Members Present: Jon Hawkinson, Tom Kalahar, Landon Padrnos and George Ebbers.

Council Members Absent: Blanca Ferguson

Others present: Dan Coughlin, City Administrator (via Zoom); Aaron Walton, City Attorney; Amber Dale, Utility Coordinator/Accounts Manager; Brian Stenholm, OPD officer; Mark Thiesse, PUC member; Scott Tedrick, Editor, Renville County Register (via Zoom); Todd Howard, resident; Rebecca Thiesse, resident; Susan Erickson, resident; several anonymous / unidentified participants (via Zoom); and Nikki Pregler, Deputy Clerk.

AGENDA

Motion by Ebbers, second by Padrnos: to approve the agenda as presented. Motion passed unanimously.

CONSENT AGENDA

Motion by Kalahar, second by Padrnos: to approve the presented Consent Agenda items:

  • Regular Meeting Minutes of November 1, 2021
  • Resolution 2021-95, Authorization to Execute Airport Lighting Improvement Grant
  • Resolution 2021-96, Liquor License Renewals for 2022
  • Resolution 2021-97, Assessment of Unpaid Refuse Account Charges – updated
  • Resolution 2021-98, Designation of Olivia Public Library as City Polling Location for 2022
  • Resolution 2021-99, Assessment of Unpaid Mowing Charges
  • November Payables #2

Motion passed unanimously.

Public Hearing: Hillcrest / Primrose Lane Alley Easement Vacation

At 7:02 p.m. Mayor Hawkinson temporarily recessed the regular meeting and opened a public hearing on the Hillcrest / Primrose Lane Alley Easement Vacation.

Aaron Walton shared that this easement vacation would impact the Heller and Livingood properties which have been discussed at previous meetings. It was determined by Jasmine Miller and Aaron Walton that the existing easements were not beneficial. Rather, the easements were needed a bit further south, which seemed more logical for the city and property owners. He worked with Miller to send notices and follow all of the steps required, this is the final step in the process. Walton stated that no written comments were received and the property owners seemed in favor of the change.

Mayor Hawkinson thanked all departments and the home owners for their work toward a compromise on this project. Kalahar gave kudos to everyone involved, he reflected that it has been 3-4 years in-process, and this seemed to be the best end result possible.

Mayor Hawkinson closed the public hearing and reopened the regular meeting at 7:04 p.m.

Resolution 2021-105, Approve of Vacation of Public Easement

Motion by Padrnos, second by Ebbers: to approve Resolution 2021-105, Vacation of Public Easement at the Hillcrest / Primrose Lane/Alley area. A roll call vote was taken per statute. Motion passed unanimously.

Resolution 2021-100, Amendment to Established Utility Rate Schedules

Amber Dale, Utility Coordinator/Accounts Manager, and Mark Thiesse, Commissioner on the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) shared the commission’s utility rate increase recommendations. The commission recommended the council adopt a 5.6 % increase to electrical rates, a 4% increase to water rates, a 3% increase to waste water rates and a 1% increase to storm water rates. Dale stated that the PUC does not take these decisions lightly and commission members asked many questions during their 4-hour discussion. Discussion items included the financial impact of the DePue project and ensuring adequate reserve funds in case of a catastrophic event. Thiesse shared that this recommendation did pass however it was not unanimous with the recommendation coming on a 3 to 1 vote.

Mayor Hawkinson stated that he attended the PUC meeting. Jason Murray, the city’s financial advisor provided a few models to visualize the impact of planned projects on the rates. He thanked the PUC for their diligent work and vigorous discussion. Ebbers agreed that PUC members asked good questions and worked hard on this decision. Kalahar thanked Jason Murray for his knowledge and contributions to the discussion. Thiesse encouraged continued searches for grant and other funding options, as DePue Avenue is a large project which will affect the city significantly.

Motion by Ebbers, second by Kalahar: to approve Resolution 2021-100, Amendment to Established Utility Rate Schedules thus updating fine and fee schedules for the City of Olivia. Motion passed unanimously.

Resolution 2021-101, Establishment of Financial Goals for Olivia Electric Utility

Amber Dale shared the recommended financial goals from the PUC for Olivia’s electric utility. This included following the recommendation by Power System Engineering that the city keep 15% of the replacement costs of the electric distribution system, and the recommendation by Abdo to keep an additional 6 months of expenses in the electric reserves. Resolution 2021-101 outlines these goals and steps to achieve them over five years. It also clarifies the intended purpose for electric department funds.

Kalahar asked if these goals were generally approved by the PUC, which Dale confirmed. Padrnos asked if this plan coincides with previous discussions to bolster reserves and get them to target levels, which Dale confirmed. Thiesse shared that the PUC members also had questions regarding the borrowing or reallocation of electric department reserve funds and how they may be recovered in order to stay within targeted fund levels.

Motion by Padrnos, second by Kalahar: to approve Resolution 2021-101, Establishment of Financial Goals for Olivia Electric Utility. Motion passed unanimously.

Resolution 2021-102, Extension of COVID-19 Policies and Authorizations

Mayor Hawkinson shared some history of past COVID-19 policy creation and updates that have taken place. Recently city staff has had to act on and reference these policies, therefore another update seemed warranted.

Motion by Ebbers, second by Padrnos: to approve Resolution 2021-102, Extension of COVID-19 Policies and Authorizations. Motion passed unanimously.

Resolution 2021-103, Joint Powers Agreements between the State of Minnesota and the City of Olivia on Behalf of its City Attorney and Police Department

Walton shared that these documents are standard joint powers agreements that are typically renewed every 5 years. They are drafted by the State of Minnesota, Department of Public Safety, and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in order to exchange criminal justice data. The agreements are basically a formality; however, they are required.

Motion by Padrnos, second by Kalahar: to approve Resolution 2021-103, Joint Powers Agreements between the State of Minnesota and the City of Olivia on Behalf of its City Attorney and Police Department. Motion passed unanimously.

Resolution 2021-104, Temporary Vacation Accrual Cap Waiver for OPD Staff

Mayor Hawkinson summarized that the current vacation accrual policy limits an employee to only bank up to an amount equal to their annual vacation allocation level and after that point an employee cannot accrue further hours in their vacation bank until some of the previously accrued hours are used. In light of the current OPD staffing situation making it difficult if not impossible for current OPD staff to use their vacation time, this resolution would lift the cap so accrued hours may carry over for use until December 31, 2022.

Motion by Padrnos, second by Kalahar: to approve Resolution 2021-104, Temporary Vacation Accrual Cap Waiver for OPD Staff. Motion passed unanimously.

Comprehensive Plan Update Request for Proposals

Amber Dale shared that the comprehensive plan typically outlines goals and objectives regarding the future planning for the entire City over the next 5-10 years. It was her understanding that Coughlin would like to gather bids to help the city create this plan and ultimately reach those determined goals. Mayor Hawkinson shared that this plan has been a topic of conversation for months and it encompasses every department in the city. The latest plan was started in early 2013 and is in need of some updating.

Motion by Ebbers, second by Padrnos: to seek bids for the Comprehensive Plan Update Request for Proposals. Motion passed unanimously.

Agenda Additions/New Business

  • American Legion Christmas Decorating Request – Kubesh Park

Mayor Hawkinson read the request provided by the American Legion to continue decorating the park as they have in the past. He explained that the City Council must consider any request presented to utilize City property.

Motion by Ebbers, second by Padrnos: to approve the American Legion Request to Decorate Kubesh Park. Motion passed unanimously.

  • Resolution 2021-106, TZD (Toward Zero Death) Mutual Aid Agreement for the use of Law Enforcement Personnel and Equipment

Mayor Hawkinson asked Officer Stenholm to share a brief overview of the TZD program. Mayor Hawkinson clarified that this would be a renewal of the mutual aid agreement with the County and other agencies involved. Officer Stenholm shared that the program originally started approximately 7-8 years ago to replace the safe and sober program. Any agencies in Renville County that partake in the program could utilize these grant funds provided by the state to help offset the cost of overtime incurred. There is specific training required for the officers to complete to qualify and participate. The goal of the program is to make contact with people not to issue citations. Ultimately, all agencies report citations to the state to gauge the efficacy of the program. He shared that he feels it is a valuable educational and awareness program.

Mayor Hawkinson explained that this resolution would seek the Councils approval for the participation of Olivia Police officers in the required training and the grant opportunity as well.

  • Motion by Kalahar, second by Padrnos: to approve Resolution 2021-106, TZD (Toward Zero Death) Mutual Aid Agreement for the use of Law Enforcement Personnel and Equipment. Motion passed unanimously.

Public Forum

Mayor Hawkinson temporarily recessed the meeting and opened the public forum at 7:28 p.m.

Todd Howard, resident; shared that he is opposed to the location of the BOLD school sign currently under construction.

Walton stated that the mayor could close the public forum at any time especially if participants did not follow standard decorum expectations. He also advised that the Council should not respond to Mr. Howard’s questions or comments because he has threated litigation against the city.

Mayor Hawkinson allowed Mr. Howard to continue. Mr. Howard shared his disappointment in the result of this situation. Mayor Hawkinson thanked Mr. Howard for sharing his thoughts.

No one else asked to address the Council during the public forum. Mayor Hawkinson reopened the meeting at 7:35 p.m.

Greater MN Parks and Trails – November 9

Mayor Hawkinson shared that Coughlin attended this meeting which highlighted the No Child Left Inside Grant. Coughlin is working with this program to help fund the proposed flashing pedestrian crossing light on Highway 71 as part of the Safe Routes to School / Active Living Trail Phase 2.

Public Utilities Commission – November 10

No further comments were shared.

Website Updates

Mayor Hawkinson shared that Sarah from Redwood Valley Technical Solutions, is working on creating an agenda and meeting minutes archive database and is also addressing ADA compliance questions that remain.

Other Reports of Council / Staff

Padrnos mentioned that he observed that the agenda for this meeting is on the city website along with the recordings of the City Council Meetings. He also noticed at least one previous meeting included the approved minutes as well. He commented that this was a great improvement. Dale shared that the agendas have been provided for some time, however minutes for the last year have been recently added to the agendas and recordings online.

Mayor Hawkinson shared that City Hall has reopened as of today. He reiterated that city staff will continue to be mindful of health and safety in determining when it is safe to operate normally or when remote/virtual meetings are needed.

ADJOURNMENT

Motion by Kalahar, second by Ebbers: to adjourn the meeting at 7:38 p.m. Motion passed unanimously.

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