REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
Monday, October 18, 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 7:01 P.M.
Council Members Present: Jon Hawkinson, Tom Kalahar, Blanca Ferguson, and Landon Padrnos.
Council Members Absent: George Ebbers
Others present: Dan Coughlin, City Administrator; Aaron Walton, City Attorney; Jason Krumheuer, Police Chief; Jasmine Miller, Planning and Zoning Administrator; Scott Tedrick, Editor, Renville County Register; Amber Dale, Utilities Coordinator; Cory Hebrink, resident; Tim Seehusen, OFD; Justin Vogt, resident; Ann Jensen, South West EMS; Don Williamson, West Central Sanitation; Brittany Lampher, resident; Randy Revier, resident; Denise Revier, resident; Brady Revier, resident; Melissa Swyter, resident; Dayna Christensen, resident; Zach Chapman, resident; Kasey Athmann, resident; Jeff Nelson, resident; Andy Hennen, resident; Steve Altman, resident; Mark Jurgensen, Eagle Scout project; Dominique Claseman, Eagle Scout; Julie W (via Zoom); several anonymous / unidentified participants (via Zoom); and Nikki Pregler, Deputy Clerk.
Motion by Padrnos, second by Ferguson: to approve the agenda as presented. Motion passed unanimously.
Motion by Kalahar, second by Padrnos: to approve the presented Consent Agenda items:
- Regular Meeting Minutes of October 20, 2021
- Acknowledge Receipt / First Reading of Proposed Lexipol Police Policies 313, 315, 316, 319, 322, 323, 325, 326, 327, 330, 334, 336, 337, 338, 339, 341, 342
- Approve Lexipol Police Policies 312, 314, 317, 324, 331, 335 (First Reading 9/7/2021)
- Committee Appointment – Kim Harrier to the PUC
- Resolution 2021-90, Approval of Donations
- Pay Request #2 – Highway 71 Utility Project
- October Payables #2
Motion passed unanimously.
Lifesaving Award Presentation
Jeff Nelson presented Life Saving Awards to members of the Olivia Ambulance Service, Police Department and Fire Department. On August 23, 2021 Randy Revier experienced a medical emergency for which his family called for assistance. Ambulance, Fire and Police emergency responders stopped whatever they were doing and answered that call, exhibiting heroic efforts to assist in saving Randy’s life. Jeff Nelson and Ann Jensen presented awards to Kasey Athmann, Justin Vogt, Steve Altman, Zach Chapman, Andy Hennen, Melissa Swyter, and Rebecca Pieper (who was not present but Chief Krumheuer accepted the award on her behalf).
Randy Revier stood to thank everyone that responded on that night.
Mayor Hawkinson expressed his appreciation for everyone involved for their dedication to this community; and remarked that our regional emergency services are second to none.
Public Hearing for Assessment of Unpaid Refuse Charges
At 7:10 p.m. Mayor Hawkinson temporarily recessed the regular meeting and opened a public hearing on unpaid refuse charges. Don Williamson of West Central Sanitation explained that he was there to answer any questions or hear additional comments from Olivia residents regarding currently unpaid refuse bills. He explained that yet unpaid refuse bills will be certified with the County later in the year. He added that one particularly high bill will be adjusted due to extenuating circumstances experienced by the resident, which Ferguson thanked him for pursuing.
Mayor Hawkinson asked how this list of unpaid bills compares to other communities. Williamson stated that it was common based upon the size of Olivia and number of residents to serve. Kalahar stated that this year’s list seemed smaller than years past.
Mayor Hawkinson welcomed the public to comment. Cory Hebrink, business owner, stepped forward to ask if refuse service is mandatory for the city to provide or if an exemption be filed? Ferguson stated that this question had been asked before and that everyone must pay a minimum rate in order for the city to get the contracted rates currently in force which ultimately keeps rates lower for everyone. Williamson took Hebrink’s contact information to research his particular refuse pickup question. Williamson clarified that payments will still be accepted for unpaid bills up until the certification date. No written questions or comments were received by city staff. No further public comments were offered. Mayor Hawkinson closed the public hearing at 7:16 p.m. and reopened the regular meeting.
Public Hearing for Assessment of Unpaid Mowing Charges
At 7:16 p.m. Mayor Hawkinson temporarily recessed the regular meeting and opened a public hearing on unpaid mowing charges. Dan Coughlin shared that two property owners were sent notices to make them aware of the charges. This is the typical time of year to certify these charges for code violations/nuisance issues that were then addressed by public works to bring the situation into code compliance. Part of this process is to allow the public to make comments regarding the invoices sent. No written comments were received by city staff.
Mayor Hawkinson asked how often the city mows lawns in town? Coughlin shared that it varies but it is usually a small number. Sometimes un-mowed/unkempt lawns occur because the resident moves away but the bank or mortgage company has not yet formally assumed direct responsibility over the property at that time.
No further public comments were offered. No written questions or comments were received. Mayor Hawkinson closed the public hearing at 7:20 p.m. and reopened the regular meeting.
Update on Veteran’s Memorial Project
Dominique Claseman shared some photos of what he envisions the project to look like. He commented that the community support for this project has been great and letters of support have been written to the newspaper. The financial support is well over his original goal and stands currently at $37,500. Claseman is also looking into adding a battle cross to the memorial. He and Mark Jurgensen have been researching and comparing to another memorial battle cross in the region.
Mayor Hawkinson shared that he has heard excited comments from the public and referenced the community support for veterans in this area. He complimented Claseman’s professional presentation of a large-scale project to the public. Mayor Hawkinson asked when the deadline is to contribute. Claseman stated October 31st in order to be recognized at the dedication. Contributions after October 31st will still be accepted.
Ferguson thanked Claseman for his efforts and asked him to present the memorial participation levels and information one more time. Hawkinson asked if contributors get a paver. Claseman stated they do and they can even put a logo on their paver if they wish.
Padrnos congratulated Claseman on his success thus far.
Kalahar thanked Claseman for his efforts and asked him to shake hands with the Council members present.
Mayor Hawkinson congratulated Claseman’s positive leadership and Coughlin stated that brochures are still available at City Hall if the public wants further information about this opportunity.
Update regarding Hillcrest/Primrose Alley Project
Jasmine Miller shared information regarding two specific properties. The Heller property required public works to remove a fence that protruded into the alleyway and trees blocking access to the utility boxes. Both tasks have been completed. They also addressed the Livingood property next door regarding the easements there. MIller, Walton and Troy Fuoss have worked with the property owners to clean up the easement lines to make the most of the area in their back yards while maintaining access to the utility boxes. Miller then asked to set a public hearing for November 15, 2021 to vacate a portion of the easement.
Walton clarified that they were requesting to vacate the easements in blue in the reference photo as part of the formal process.
Kalahar shared that he was glad that this positive progress has been made and thanked them both for their efforts.
Motion by Ferguson, second by Padrnos: to set a public hearing for November 15, 2021 to vacate unused easements regarding the Heller and Livingood properties. Motion passed unanimously.
Resolution 2021-91, Unpaid Utility Assessment Resolution
Mayor Hawkinson shared some history regarding the process to address unpaid utility bills including a past public hearing that has now led to this resolution to assess the remaining five properties with their unpaid balances.
Mayor Hawkinson asked if five unpaid bills is a large number. Amber Dale shared that this current list is the shortest she has seen.
Motion by Kalahar, second by Padrnos: to approve Resolution 2021-91, Unpaid Utility Assessment Resolution for assessment and submission to the Renville County Auditor-Treasurer for certification to property taxes on or about November 19, 2021. Motion passed unanimously.
Approval to Prepay Assessment on County Ditch 66
Mayor Hawkinson summarized the situation regarding the assessment of approximately $233,000.00 to the city in relation to the Ditch 66 project. By prepaying the city could avoid approximately $20,000.00 worth of interest payments.
Coughlin share that Dale did much research with the city financial advisor and auditors to suggest the most sensible financial plan of action.
Kalahar stated that he would approve this motion with some protest as he felt this was an unnecessary and avoidable charge because the construction should have lasted longer than it has and now these repairs needed to be made to fix mistakes that made years ago.
Motion by Kalahar, second by Ferguson: to approve the prepay option for the assessments on County Ditch 66. Motion passed unanimously.
Airport Land Lease Bids
Mayor Hawkinson shared that three bids were received and he suggested that they move forward with the highest bidder, to which the council generally agreed.
Coughlin mentioned that the bid opening was held at noon on Friday, October 15, 2021. Coughlin asked Pregler to contact the high bidder to confirm that they understood and agreed with the terms and expectation of the lease agreement, which they confirmed verbally to her. The next step in the process is for Walton to finalize the agreement with the lessee. Coughlin shared that the bidder asked if the current renter would complete fall tillage. Coughlin presumed that they would not, but he did not foresee an issue to allow the new renter access to the land for that purpose yet this fall after the crops had been harvested from the site and weather permitting. That issue could be dealt with administratively. Kalahar agreed stating that tilling should not take that much time or effort. Coughlin shared that the high bidder was Thomas Jansen and he bid $166.50 per acre per year for the three-year land lease agreement term.
Motion by Padrnos, second by Ferguson: to accept Thomas Jansen’s bid for $166.50 per acre per year for the three-year land lease agreement term as well as grant him access to the land for tilling after harvest 2021.
Chief Krumheuer shared some recent traffic safety concerns. Near Casey’s East there are reports of semi’s parking near homes on Highway 212 thus blocking the view of oncoming traffic. He would like to add a no parking sign near that location. Near Park and 7th Street heading east/west, he would like some stop signs added to make it a 4 way stop to slow down traffic and cause a pause in a potential blind spot area. Kalahar asked if we need to contact MNDOT for the Highway 212 signage. Coughlin confirmed and stated that should not be an issue. Krumheuer stated that contact would be required between MNDOT and public works to get stop signs and also to advertise the change. Coughlin suggested temporary flashers and flags on those stop signs. Kalahar asked about the cost for permanent flashing signs. Coughlin shared that they are spendy but prices have come down.
Krumheuer mentioned that they are struggling to get part time help. Current part time staff are not able to help fill open shifts. He will continue to work on the scheduling topic.
Mayor Hawkinson temporarily recessed the meeting and opened the public forum at 7:49 p.m.
Cory Hebrink, business owner in Olivia, commented that he has noticed cars near his business on Highway 212 and 9th street, making a U turn in front of oncoming traffic and then parking on the opposite side of the street in the diagonal parking area. He commented that semis may also have issues with the cars parking in those locations as well.
Kalahar asked if Krumheuer could look into the parking lot near that corner for potential additional parking in that area.
Hebrink asked about the city’s policy regarding communicating public information to the public via social media. He thought public information would be shared on the City of Olivia’s Facebook page or website before being shared by an individual. He was curious about when to appropriately use a Data Request to follow policy. Walton stated that he may need more specific information and this meeting may not be the appropriate place to ask further questions.
Coughlin shared that public documents can be distributed and he referenced current guidance from the League of Minnesota Cities. Generally information on public websites need to be accessible, ADA compliant and maintained in a timely fashion. The current city website is not set up to address the ADA compliance requirements at this point, and staffing is an issue when it comes to adequately and continually maintaining website content; so at present agendas and supporting documents are not posted there.
Hebrink asked about Padrnos posting the agenda and Council packet on his Facebook page. Padrnos stated that he felt the post was a service to the public, but would stop if it was an issue. Walton stated that such posts are public and acceptable.
Ferguson clarified that Hebrink had access to the public information via Padrnos’ Facebook page. Hebrink confirmed but questioned the need for a request for similar information in the past. He asked if going forward a request would not be required, as the information would be posted on social media. Ferguson further clarified that a request may be needed if a person is looking for a specific item, so staff knows what to provide. She also added that a data request itself is also a public record.
Coughlin explained that in the case of Mr. Hebrink’s past requests, he had asked for a number of different documents spanning large periods of time and with that type of request a formal data request was the appropriate approach in such a case. Coughlin shared that information can be requested and mailed if that is what the requestor prefers.
Hebrink stated that information was missing from a previous request made by him. He asked that if information could not be provided, to explain why it could not be provided. Padrnos clarified that his particular posts may be missing items if late additions were submitted between the time he posted and the actual meeting. Padrnos would like to address this issue in the future.
Hebrink asked if all of the information he had shared with the City had been provided to the Council because he did not see everything in the materials Padrnos had shared. Coughlin stated that the packet of information Mr. Hebrink provided included a number of photographs and a large volume of documents which in turn made for a very large scanned document file which had to be sent out separately. He said that the general goal has always been to get information out in a timely fashion so that the elected officials have time to prepare for their meeting, but the timing of when documents and other information does not always fit nicely into a 2 meeting-per-month timeframe.
Mayor Hawkinson said hesitated to set a deadline for meeting packet materials in order to accommodate flexibility and responsiveness. Kalahar agreed that the process cannot become so rigid as to not account for legitimate last-minute items that can show up on occasion. Mayor Hawkinson suggested that late additions could be added to discussion items not to the consent agenda. That way those late additions are individually highlighted. Padrnos said he was agreeable to that plan.
Walton shared that it also depends what the item is to be added or the length of that item, common sense is a factor. He added that the longstanding practice of highlighting addenda additions in red so they are easily identifiable has historically helped ensure transparency and giving due attention to any changes being offered on the draft agenda. Walton also shared that the public can request to be on a standing list to receive agendas and other distributed materials.
Padrnos asked for the Zoom chat to be opened, as the meeting was in public forum. Mayor Hawkinson read a comment that stated that “all other cities have minutes on their website”. Walton stated that statement was not correct and that he is aware of numerous cities that do not offer such information on their websites.
Mayor Hawkinson asked for consensus for a consent agenda deadline. Coughlin shared some examples and perspectives on setting a deadline. Ferguson supported a deadline if it helps staff end their work day on time. Mayor Hawkinson suggested a consent agenda deadline of noon on Thursdays. Any other additions would be a discussion item. Kalahar asked that a decision be made once the full Council was present. All expressed agreement with Kalahar’s suggestion.
No one else asked to address the Council during the public forum. Mayor Hawkinson reopened the meeting at 8:20 p.m.
Park Board – October 12
Kalahar shared about the Yellowstone Trail/DePue project and an idea being considered for placement of bronze medallions in the sidewalk in the business district to commemorate the original location of the trail. It was suggested to put the emblem on the street signs along the rest of the route to still highlight the significance of the location while reducing the number of medallions and their associated cost. The ice skating rink in Henton Park will be operational this winter, the warming house will not be staffed and will be locked up each night. Bathroom facilities will not be available. The Park Board also has plans to add handicap accessible sidewalks at Nester Park and Pond Park. That work will be done in the spring.
Public Utilities Commission – October 13
Amber Dale shared that Sharice Moorman was present and discussed the electrical rate study in detail, thus they did not get to the water, waste water and storm water rates. Specific details will be shared at a future council meeting. Dale would like to put the financial goals in writing via a resolution for the Council to consider. She has been working toward getting the PUC board more involved and knowledgeable about the financial decisions and recommendations that they make.
Ferguson remarked that it was a good meeting and discussion and the board expressed an interest in being more informed. She stressed that any recommendations brought to the Council by the PUC or Dale are thoroughly discussed and researched.
Parks and Trails Report
Coughlin shared that MNDOT has recently wrapped up their work on drafting temporary easements for the ADA compliant sidewalk installation as part of their Highway 71 project slated to begin next year.
Other Reports of Council / Staff
No one else asked to address the Council during the Reports of Council / Staff.
CLOSED SESSION – (Closed in accordance with MN Statute 13D.05(d) – Regarding Police Department Scheduling and Staffing) at 8:32 p.m.
The Closed Session Meeting of the City Council of the City of Olivia, Minnesota, was called to order by Mayor Hawkinson.
Council Members Present: Jon Hawkinson, Tom Kalahar, Blanca Ferguson, and Landon Padrnos.
Council Members Absent: George Ebbers
Others present: Dan Coughlin, City Administrator; Aaron Walton, City Attorney; Jason Krumheuer, Police Chief; and Nikki Pregler, Deputy Clerk.
Chief Krumheuer presented information related to Police Department Staffing and Scheduling.
At 9:34 p.m. Mayor Hawkinson declared the closed session concluded and reopened the regular meeting.
The Council expressed unanimous support for establishing an expedited hiring process where if a full-time police department position should open up, a hiring process could commence immediately without further authorization of the City Council.
Motion by Padrnos, second by Ferguson: to grant authorization for an expedited hiring process in the event a full-time police department position were to open up. Motion passed unanimously.
Motion by Kalahar, second by Padrnos: to adjourn the meeting at 9:36 p.m. Motion passed unanimously.