Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Olivia City Council Meeting Minutes - October 4, 2021 - City of Olivia, MN

REGULAR MEETING MINUTES

Monday, October 4, 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, Blanca Ferguson, Landon Padrnos and George Ebbers.

Council Members Absent: None

Others present: Dan Coughlin, City Administrator; Aaron Walton, City Attorney; Jason Krumheuer, Police Chief; Justin Black, SEH; Becky Pieper, OPD; Brian Stenholm, OPD; Wayne Olson, Public Works; Scott Tedrick, Editor, Renville County Register (via Zoom); Amber Dale, Utilities Coordinator (via Zoom); Citizen (via Zoom); Citizens (via Zoom); iPhone (via Zoom); Guest (via Zoom); 2 iPads (via Zoom); and Nikki Pregler, Deputy Clerk.

AGENDA

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

CONSENT AGENDA

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

  • Regular Meeting Minutes of September 20, 2021
  • Special Meeting Minutes of September 27, 2021
  • October Payables #1

Motion passed unanimously.

Assessment Hearing: Highway 71 Utility Project

At 7:01 p.m. Mayor Hawkinson temporarily recessed the regular meeting and opened a public hearing on considering adoption of the final assessment roll for the Highway 71 Utility Project. City Engineer Justin Black reviewed the assessment roll calculations and gladly noted that the final numbers had not changed from the original estimates presented during the preliminary assessment hearing. Black then provided an overview of the process and how final assessment numbers were arrived at. It was noted that most of the 1.1-million-dollar project was being funded by utility reserves with only a small portion being assessed to individual properties.

Black explained that the City sold bonds to pay for the work that was done and that the interest rate that was locked in on those bonds were quite low compared to historic levels. Because of this, the assessment interest rates involved with this particular project would be an annual charge of 2.77% with homeowners being able to spread out their assessments over a 20-year span. Black did note that property owners did have the right to pay off the entire assessment and avoid all interest costs, pay down a portion of the assessment or pay it off at any time in the future without penalty if they wish.

The assessments would be levied via the county’s property tax system as a special assessment line item. Black mentioned that if a homeowner would sell their property during the timeframe of this assessment period, they typically can work with their realtor to either get the assessment paid off at time of sale or otherwise make arrangements for the new owner to assume the assessment payments going forward.

The City Engineer then noted that he and city staff were recommending that a small amendment be made to the presented assessment roll regarding the property currently owned by Debora Ziller. He explained that because her lot is quite sizable, it is conceivable that it could potentially be split in half and another home be built on the open parcel. With this in mind, and because this was the only realistic opportunity to have access to the new water main without getting MnDOT’s approval to cut into their newly retooled highway, a second water connection stub was put in place to serve that potential future development. Black said it was his recommendation that the cost of that added water connection ($2,700) be held in deferment until such time as it might be utilized.

Padrnos clarified that the second service was added as a recommendation by City staff, and not at the request of the home owner. Black confirmed that this was the case. Coughlin further explained that there have been recent inquiries about potentially splitting off part of the present lot and building a second home on the newly created parcel. Black added that splitting the lot would create a viable building site for a new home with the only challenge being the need for establishing a permanent shared driveway easement with the adjacent properties in order to allow direct access to the site..

Ferguson asked if Jasmine Miller, City Planning and Zoning Administrator was on-board with that decision as well. Justin Black confirmed that he had conferred with Miller about this matter and she agreed that this was the best and lowest cost option for preserving the option of allowing for a future home to be built at that location.

No further public comments were offered. Mayor Hawkinson closed the hearing at 7:10 p.m. and reopened the regular meeting.

Motion by Padrnos, second by Ebbers: to approve Resolution 2021 – 87, Adoption of the Assessment Roll for Highway 71 Utility Project, as amended to defer the $2700 increase to the Ziller property until such time as the second service is connected and utilized. Motion passed unanimously.

Highway 71 Utility Project Update

Justin Black shared that currently most of the major work has been completed and they are now waiting for the concrete to cure before the final road patching can be done. They hope to be able to open the highway on Friday (10-8-2021). Beyond that, there will be some additional touch-up work, clean-up and seeding to be done.

DePue Avenue Project Update

Coughlin shared about the extensive process required to work with the USDA to acquire project funding. Most of the review process will need to be completed by Aaron Walton. Coughlin then shared that there will be a few process / paperwork items that the USDA will need the Council to consider. He then discussed two loan resolutions being presented and explained that they were simply capturing the project funding numbers that the City Engineer had previously discussed with the council.

Kalahar reminded the Council that the reward for all of the hard work will result in a very low interest rate which in turn will save property owners and taxpayers considerable money over time.

Motion by Kalahar, second by Ferguson: to approve Loan Resolution 2021 – 88 to Authorize Indebtedness for the purpose of improving the Water/Storm Water facility in Olivia and Loan Resolution 2021 – 89 to Authorize Indebtedness for the purpose of improving the Sanitary Sewer facility in Olivia. Motion passed unanimously.

Consideration of Estimates for Asphalt Roller Equipment

Wayne Olson explained some history related to the use of the current asphalt roller equipment. In the last two years, since a serious and road damaging frost event in 2019, Public Works has used this roller to lay approximately 256 tons of asphalt patch last year and already 208 tons of asphalt patch this year. This piece of equipment has regularly been used since 1989, is at its end of life and is generally beyond repair. Olson commended Coughlin and the public works staff on their attention to detail as they recorded and documented all of the information FEMA required help reimburse the city for its labor, equipment and materials while addressing the frost issues stemming from the winter of 2019. The FEMA funds received total $34,000.00 and Olson presented a bid for $36,928 for a new roller and in addition this bidder will pay $4400 for their old roller. Two other bids were received, although they were higher. Olson requested that the Council approve the purchase of this new roller.

Kalahar asked if the $34000.00 is available, and Coughlin confirmed that the FEMA funds were put back into the Public Works budget. Kalahar also mentioned that if the roads are not taken care of, it will be a cost now or a more cost later situation. Olson noted that the products they use today don’t last as long as they used to because they are water-based now where in years past they were largely oil based. Olson said that the newer formulations do not hold up as well and tend to require more maintenance.

Mayor Hawkinson summed up by stating that based on Olson’s perceptions, this particular piece of equipment is at a point where maintaining it is a poor investment. Olson concurred.

Ferguson mentioned her observations of the new soybean oil top coat on Elm Street. Olson confirmed that street was recently included in this new street treatment. He said so far he has been very impressed by the durability of the product being used, and the extended lifespan of the streets it has been used on. Ferguson asked if there were more roads in town where that product could be used. Olson confirmed that there are a few more potential locations that he expects will be treated in 2022. Ferguson wanted to acknowledge how nice the new top coat looks.

Olson expressed his thanks on behalf of Public Works for approving the Bomag purchase and again recognized Coughlin for the work he contributed to the funding process.

Kalahar pointed out that all of that paperwork required by organizations like FEMA and USDA is often the reason many others don’t pursue funding of this nature. He added his appreciation for the work done.

Motion by Ferguson, second by Ebbers: to approve the bid from Ruffridge-Johnson Equipment Company for a Bomag asphalt roller machine. Motion passed unanimously.

Finance Director Hiring Process

Mayor Hawkinson explained that the Council wanted a little more information before they moved forward regarding the open Finance Director position. The Council had basically two options to consider:

* Wait until the holiday season is over to advertise the open position and hold interviews, although plenty of behind-the-scenes tasks could be accomplished prior to the advertisement.

OR

* Immediately pursue applicants.

He then opened the floor for discussions. He referenced some timelines and suggestions provided by Liza from DDA, the consulting firm the city will be working with regarding this hiring process. He stated that he would lean towards her recommendations in order to find the highest quality applicant after the holiday season has passed.

Kalahar agreed and stated that he tends to defer to the expertise of the consultants the City hires to provide such advice, especially in regards to a very high-profile position like the Finance Director position. He stated that it is the second highest position in the city and unless something compelling was raised as to why he shouldn’t follow the advice of the executive search expert, he would vote to undertake the search process after the holidays have passed as was being recommended.

Padrnos asked Coughlin when the audit field work need to be completed. Coughlin shared that historically it has taken place sometime in March or April. Coughlin mentioned that just that afternoon he talked with Bonnie Schwieger, the lead audit staffer for Olivia, and asked about the timing of the audit in light of a new finance director potentially starting their job just as the traditional audit timeline would be hitting. It was relayed that Bonnie said they understood the situation and that they would be flexible to postponing their field work as far out as June; and if necessary, they could even file for an extension with the State Auditor’s Office to give us another month of time if it was needed. Coughlin stated that Padrnos asked a very good question and he appreciated the sensitivity about the audit process but then reiterated that the city’s auditors said they would help with the onboarding process and be as accommodating to our scheduling needs as possible.

Padrnos stated that he thought it would be better for a new employee to begin a few months before that audit preparation began. Ahead of any other unforeseen changes, Padrnos stated that he wanted to move forward with this hiring process now.

Ferguson asked how often AEM staff are one site in Olivia to work with our staff. Coughlin stated that AEM staff thus far have been averaging over two times a week; but added that AEM staff also have remote access to the city’s financial system and regularly work remotely on tasks the rest of the week. In addition, they make themselves available by phone, email or video chat as needed. Ferguson expressed the importance of having someone in that role 5 days per week. Coughlin mentioned that Vicki Holthaus, who heads up the AEM interim staffing division, agreed with that assessment; and noted that is why Holthaus presented the Council with a formal recommendation to proceed with a hiring process for a new in-house finance director.

Ebbers stated that he agreed with the DDA recommendation to wait, although he understands the desire to get someone in that role soon. However, he said he wants to get the right person in that role and not rush the process and he felt that starting a search after the holidays increased our chances of attracting quality candidates for the position.

Mayor Hawkinson recognized both sides of the discussion and stated that the goal should be to make the best decision for the long term. He stated that perhaps the best applicant could be found by timing the process correctly.

Motion by Kalahar, second by Ebbers: To authorize David Drown & Associates Human Resources Division to facilitate a finance director hiring process with the job posting portion of the process taking place on or after January 1, 2022. Motion passed 4-1 with Padrnos voting against.

OPD Update

Chief Krumheuer stated that the Patrol Sergeant position has been posted. He was impressed with the posting information that Coughlin helped put together. Kalahar asked about the timeline regarding the posting. Krumheuer stated that the posting would close on October 25, 2021.

Krumheuer shared that he had recently spoken with Officer Clouse and he seems to be in good spirits.

Krumheuer stated that multiple officers have visited the school recently. There will likely be continuing issues that they will need to address there. Kalahar asked if the school has adequate staff to handle these issues rather than pulling OPD officers off patrol and to the school. Krumheuer stated that this year OPD has been called to the school for criminal investigations and behaviors that need to be addressed by officers. Kalahar asked if OPD has had interaction with parents, which Krumheuer stated there has been some cooperative interactions.

Krumheuer also mentioned that Officer Stenholm has expressed interest in offering a self-defense class for the public once again.

Krumheuer introduced Officer Pieper so she could discuss some of the projects she has been working on lately. Pieper stated that she has been working hard to make connections with the school staff and students; and recently was able to leverage her time at the school to recover tasers that had been brought to school by at least one student. She then showed the Council an example of one of the tasers that were taken from the school. Kalahar asked about the legality of taser possession. Krumheuer stated that tasers cannot be possessed by anyone under the age of 18.

Pieper stated that she has also was successful in writing a car seat grant. She received a grant for 20 car seats to be disbursed county wide to those in need. She was able to choose 2 styles of car seat, one for infants and a booster seat for older children. Any officer in the county can access the seats and they can record and disburse them as needed.

Pieper stated that she has also been working on a grant for AED’s. The grant has been approved to assist in the purchase of up to six AED’s and all equipment needed. She is currently waiting for further information but hopes to get those ordered shortly.

Pieper shared that she has also been working on a grant for body camera and squad systems. There are three phases to this grant process and she is currently in phase one. She will continue to work with Motorola Solutions and Chief Krumheuer on this grant effort. Kalahar suggested that Representative Tim Miller and Senator Andy Lang may give a letter of support towards this grant process if approached.

Public Forum

Mayor Hawkinson temporarily recessed the meeting and opened the public forum at 7:54 p.m. No one asked to address the Council during the public forum. Mayor Hawkinson reopened the meeting at 7:55 p.m.

EDA – September 22

Mayor Hawkinson shared the meeting largely involved updates and reports from Susie Lang.

Pool Board – September 29

Kalahar shared that Tracy is working on a special event for next summer at Kandi Lake. It could be a joint effort with Kandiyohi County, area law enforcement and her pool colleagues with a focus on teaching water safety to a wider audience. Kalahar said that in light of recent drownings in the area, he felt this added outreach was a good idea.

Parks and Trails Report

A recent meeting was held with MNDOT to further discuss and plan the trail and sidewalk elements associated with the MNDOT Highway 71 resurfacing project including ADA requirements and utility trenching alongside this project.

ACTS Interactions

Coughlin shared an overview of the cleaning and shredding services ACTS staff provide City Hall and other city locations. He gave a quick shout out to Keith, an ACTS client who regularly works at city hall, who is an avid watcher of City Council meetings when they are rebroadcast on cable access. He also thanked the ACTS staff for the work they do.

Coughlin also shared that he recently was invited to help facilitate a few mock job interviews with ACTS various ACTS clients in order to give a chance to practice their interviewing skills and receive some feedback on how to be the best they can be in such settings. Ferguson said she appreciated Coughlin volunteering to assist with that effort.

Other Reports of Council / Staff

Emergency Management Director Brian Stenholm shared some updates with the Council regarding COVID-19. There are 68 cases currently in the county and the rate of those eligible and fully vaccinated is 55.3%. The area is still considered a high community transmission rate, which translates into a suggestion for mask wearing indoors. It was noted that Pfizer booster shots are available in the area. The general recommendation is to stay with the same brand booster shot as their two previous vaccinations, if people opt to get a booster shot. There are websites to track which shot is being administered where, which Stenholm could post at a later time. He shared that NPR can also be a source for mask and vaccination requirements when visiting public places.

Ferguson asked about Stenholm’s plans to host a self-defense / situational awareness class. Stenholm said he is working on getting the details of the class pulled together with the help of other voluneers.

Ferguson asked if Stenholm continues to visit the students at the school. He confirmed that he does when time allows, particularly to visit with the younger students because they are more receptive to the interaction. Ferguson expressed her support for that kind of community policing and positive interactions with the community and thanked all of the officers present in the room for their efforts along those lines.

Mayor Hawkinson shared the following information with the public:

Park Board Meeting – Postponed until October 12, 2021 at Noon

Looking Ahead: Public Hearings on October 18, 2021 for Refuse, Mowing & Misc. Assessments

ADJOURNMENT

Motion by Padrnos, second by Ferguson: to adjourn the meeting at 8:14 p.m. Motion passed unanimously.

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