August 9, 2021

REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY OF ALBERT LEA
Monday, August 9, 2021, 7:00 p.m.

PRESENT: Mayor Vern Rasmussen, Jr., Councilors Rich Murray, Larry Baker, Jason Howland, Reid Olson, and Al Brooks. Also present were City Manager Ian Rigg, City Attorney Kelly Martinez, Finance Director Kristi Brutlag, Public Safety Director JD Carlson, and City Clerk Daphney Maras

ABSENT: Public Works Director Steven Jahnke, Councilor Robert Rasmussen

ATTENDED VIA ZOOM: Building/Zoning Official Wayne Sorensen and Project Engineer Chris Lowe

CEREMONIAL ITEMS –
Public Safety Director JD Carlson introduced the newest Police Officers and City Clerk Daphney Maras administered the Oath of Office:
• David Huse
• Luke Tuzinski
• Ryan Bassett

City Clerk Daphney Maras administered the Oath of Office to three Charter Commission members:
• Jay Waltman
• Phillip Johnson
• Ryon McCamish

Mayor Rasmussen read a statement aloud regarding the Rules of Order. The statement included information stating that as far back as 2008, and annually, the City of Albert Lea adopted Roberts Rules of Order. The statement further addressed the public forum section of the council meetings and the proceedings. This full statement is on file in the City Clerk’s office and available for review.

PUBLIC FORUM –
Chris Penrod – Spoke of his disagreement with the cancellation of the Interchange lease and the fact that the City followed the Governors’ executive orders beginning in 2020 involving the shutdown of small businesses.

Bernie Kosloskey – Finance Manager for the Interchange. He defended what he believes is inaccurate information concerning the Interchange. He spoke of conversations exchanged with the previous City Manager as well as the Assistant City Manager regarding the lease. And, more recently conversation with current City Manager Rigg.

Lisa Hanson – Spoke of the Climate Action Plan as presented at the previous council agenda.

Sherry Ketterling – Stated she has written several emails and has not received a response. Spoke of abuse of power, and corruption throughout the country.

Donald Swartz – Is the property owner of 318 E. 8th St.; he described the fire accident that destroyed the property and explained he needs more time and resources to rehab the structure.

CONSENT AND APPROVAL OF AGENDA
A. Approve Minutes Of The July 26, 2021 Regular Council Meeting
B. Approve Minutes Of The July 26, 2021 Work Session
C. License & Permits
D. Resolution Accepting Donations As Presented To The City of Albert Lea
E. Resolution Approving Purchase of Emergency Services Drone Package For The Department of Public Safety
F. Resolution Accepting Bid And Awarding Contract For The New 1MG Central Water Tower (Job 2056)
G. Resolution Granting A Variance To Accessory Structure Setback Requirements
H. Resolution Granting A Variance To Impervious Surface Requirements
I. Resolution Authorizing An Agreement With Linga Properties LLC, d/b/a Freeborn Suites
J. Resolution Authorizing The Acquisition of Certain Tax-Forfeited Properties
K. Resolution Authorizing Police Capital Purchases

Mayor Rasmussen noted items F, G, H, and J will moved under New Business. Motion made by Councilor Baker to approve the consent agenda with the move of items F, G, H, and J to New Business, seconded by Councilor Howland. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.

(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 21-119 through 21-122
Included with these minutes)

PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND COMMUNICATIONS – None

UNFINISHED BUSINESS – None

NEW BUSINESS
A. Public Hearing Regarding Emergency Abatement of Hazardous Property At 318 8th Street East, Albert Lea, Minnesota

A public hearing is being held regarding the abatement of a residential unit at 318 8th Street East that has been placarded as unfit for human habitation and structurally unsafe. Building/Zoning Official Wayne Sorensen delivered a slideshow and report depicting two residential hazardous structures located at 318 E. 8th Street damaged by fire. He noted staff opinion is:
Regarding the Northern Structure: Any rehabilitation would surpass 100% of present value of the structure and the lot.
Regarding the Southern Structure: Total Fire loss. Demolition is required.

Mayor Rasmussen opened the public hearing.

Donald Swartz is the owner of this property and he communicated the history of how and when the damage to this property happened. He also spoke of his financial, as well as his health constraints, and the inability to make the necessary repairs in a timely manner. He stated he disagrees with the Inspector’s findings. He denies his dogs being dead and remaining in the house. He reports the foul odor is coming from the melted refrigerator and freezer.
Councilor Baker asked the property owner questions and noted the expense involved in attempting repairs and the difficult, if not impossible, endeavor of making the repairs to be to the home to make it habitable. He asked the homeowner how he plans to rehabilitate the home, to which, Swartz stated he has not formulated a plan.
Councilor Brooks stated these are tough decisions on behalf of the council however, he is in agreement with the abatement of these structures. He noted he does not see the possibility of rehabilitation and will make a motion to remove the South building but would consider allowing Mr. Swartz time to repair the North structure. However, after City Attorney Martinez clarified the emergent process of abatement due to the dangers involving both the properties, removing both the South and the North structures are urgent.

Clerk Maras read a letter received from “Diana” who reports she lives next to this property. She spoke of the horrible odor that comes from the damaged home and believes it may be coming from decaying dogs. In addition, to the unkempt yard. She supports the abatement of the structures. (the complete letter is on file in the City Clerk’s office for review).

Ronald Petersen owns the property at 320 E. 8th Street. He confirmed the report received from Diana. He supports the abatement of the two structures. In his opinion, they are a safety hazard to the public.
Mayor Rasmussen called a second time.

Sherry Ketterling spoke on behalf of the owner suggesting the community come together and assist Mr. Swartz in some way with necessary repairs.

Mayor Rasmussen called a third time. No one spoke. He closed the public hearing.

A1. Resolution 21-123 Authorizing Order for Emergency Abatement of Structures Located At 318 8th Street East

On June 16, 2021, the southern residential unit at 318 8th Street East was placarded as unfit for human habitation and structurally unsafe. The north structure was placarded on April 17, 2019 as a public nuisance and further issues have now been noted. The properties are unoccupied. Removal of the structures is recommended because of damage and other conditions and the City has communicated with the owners about the public nuisance and hazards. Notice of this hearing has been published and mailed.

Motion made by Councilor Brooks, seconded by Councilor Olson. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.

(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 21-123
Included with these minutes)

B. Ordinance 21-060 Amending Chapter 2., Administration, Article VI – Boards, Commissions And Authorities (1st reading)

The proposed ordinance amendments are to permit the changes necessary to encourage and retain quality board and commission members. Section 2.199 is the most important in that it outlines the new qualification of members. Although limits are set, the qualification now includes up to three board members outside the City limits but within Freeborn County.

Baker asked for clarification regarding the stipend to which City Manager Rigg confirmed there was no change.
Motion made by Councilor Baker, seconded by Councilor Brooks On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.

(See Secretary’s Original Ordinance 21-060
Included with these minutes)

C. Resolution 21-124 Accepting the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Established Under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

Congress adopted the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021 (“ARPA”) which included $65 billion in recovery funds for cities across the country. The City of Albert Lea was allocated $1,853,880. This resolution recognizes the receipt of these funds. City Staff is currently reviewing options for these funds and will present a plan to Council at a later date.

Motion made by Councilor Howland, seconded by Councilor Olson. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.

(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 21-124
Included with these minutes)

D. Resolution Approving Terms and Authorization of Deferred Assessment Agreement
The attached resolution would approve the general terms of the Deferred Assessment Agreement for property located at 77783 209th Street. This property is to be annexed into the City limits as it is the last remaining property fronting 209th Street where the City will begin road improvements in 2022. The reason for this deferment is to balance equity. I truly believe the current owners were not aware or had reason to believe there was this outstanding assessment. If the property had been annexed in at the time the construction project occurred the assessment would already be paid in full and connected to our system. To move forward correctly staff recommends the pending annexation and allowing this very large assessment to be deferred, not forgiven.

Mayor Rasmussen invited Rocky Trail, owner of this property, to regard the deferred assessments as well as the proposed annexation. Mr. Trail reports he was not made aware of the assessments at the time of purchase. Mr. Trail does not support annexation. He provided a timeline and details of when he purchased this property.

City Manager Rigg explained the details of the deferred assessments. He said the water and sewer infrastructure assessments would be deferred indefinitely or until such time the owner would need to connect to the water and sewer when sold or developed. At that time, this would trigger the assessments to kick in and the owner would have up to ten years to pay the assessment.

To Howland’s question, Rigg explained the assessment is for capital water and sewer improvements completed in 2006 along that road. Rigg also reiterated this assessment is deferred until developed or sold.

Mayor Rasmussen asked for a motion to table this resolution until the next council meeting to allow more time for council to review.

Motion made by Councilor Murray to table this resolution, seconded by Councilor Baker. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.

E. Resolution 21-125 Accepting Bid and Awarding Contract for the New 1MG Central Water Tower (Job 2056)

Engineering and Bolton & Menk have reviewed the bids opened Tuesday, June 8, 2021 for the New Central Water Tower project. This will involve the construction of a new 1 million-gallon spheroid elevated water tower to replace the existing Central Water Tower located near the intersection of Newton Avenue and Fountain Street. The bids were to be formulated with a number of bid alternates intended to ensure the project can be completed with available funding. These alternates included extending the completion from October 2022 to June 2023, a deduction for the costs of repairing and repainting the retaining wall and handrails surrounding the site, an addition for the painting of two City logos on the side of the tower, and a deduction for the installation of lighting the logos.

Two bids were received. Engineering and Bolton & Menk recommend the low bid submitted by Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors, LLC of Avon, IN with the bid configuration as follows:
• Base bid with completion date of June 30, 2023: $6,899,424.00
• Deduct for not refurbishing retaining wall and rail $ -60,000.00
• Add Item for two City logos: $ 64,000.00
Total Contract Amount: $6,903,424.00

Because the logo has not been selected, the most expensive option was included in the award and can be reduced if a different alternative is selected. The bid abstract is attached. The Engineer’s estimate was $4,300,000.00.
After the bid was shown to be significantly higher than the estimate, the Blazing Star Landing site was reevaluated to determine if construction on that site would be more feasible and favorable. Ultimately the savings were not as significant as we had hoped to see and the advantages of the Central Water Tower site remain. The City and Bolton & Menk will continue to work with the manufacturing company to identify cost saving alternatives to help lower the expenses through change orders. Some options include not using PFA funds and evaluating alternatives for the footings.

Staff recommends approving the low bid submitted by Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors, LLC for construction of the new tower at the current location.

Baker asked that City Project Engineer Chris Lowe describe the condition of the current water tower. Lowe provided details beginning from 2010 when the central water tower was up for inspection and painting. At that time it was determined that due to extensive rust and much needed repairs the cost amounted to approximately half that of a new tower. The repairs were completed to extend the life for at least another 10-15 years. He further described the height and function of the tower.

Murray explained his struggles accepting the fees involved in building this new tower. He questions if moving the tower to the Blazing Star Landing might be more economical. He stated he will not be voting in favor of this resolution.

Mayor Rasmussen asked Rigg to speak regarding these fees. Rigg outlined certain items not calculated in this report, but would reflect additional fees at the Blazing Star Landing. Ultimately, the Blazing Star Landing did not reflect the savings originally anticipated and perhaps not worth the risk of the project being further delayed and starting over with the processes. Ultimately the daylight between the two projects when considering funding and the potential of repeating the SHIPO application that could delay the project another 18 months makes the current site more manageable. In addition, not knowing the potential increase of costs of material the further the project is delayed was considered.

Baker noted the high price is probably also reflected by the fact that there are only three companies in the U.S. that build water towers that hold one million gallons or more. He stated the risk of increase in the cost of materials may not be worth delaying this project any longer. Baker inquired on the status of the logo to be placed on the new water tower. Rigg stated a draft of the logo is available, but does not mean it is final or that the City has committed to it at this time.
Howland stated although these estimates may not be totally accurate, delaying the project is risking increase in costs and the bottom line is that the water tower needs to be replaced. He supports moving forward in hopes the change orders may reveal some savings.

Brooks stated he supports moving forward with the tower at the current location.
Motion made by Councilor Howland, seconded by Councilor Olson. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Baker, Howland, Olson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Councilor Murray voted Nay. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.

(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 21-125
Included with these minutes)

F. Resolution 21-126 Granting a Variance to Accessory Structure Setback Requirements.

Ron Boelter has applied for an after the fact variance from the R-1 rear yard setback to allow for a retaining wall structure. The structure is setback less than three feet from the rear property lines with steps that encroach into the City right-of-way which requires a variance. The Board of Appeals met in regard to this application on July 21, 2021 and recommends approval with conditions as stated in the attached resolution.

Motion made by Councilor Baker, seconded by Councilor Brooks. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Baker, Howland, Olson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Councilor Murray voted Nay. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.

(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 21-126
Included with these minutes)

G. Resolution 21-127 Granting A Variance To Impervious Surface Requirements
Lynn Kelly has applied for a variance from the impervious surface requirements to allow for a paved horse-shoe shaped driveway. The proposed driveway will increase the impervious surface about 850 sq. ft. or an overall property total of 3.685 which requires a variance. The Board of Appeals met in regard to this application on July 21, 2021 and recommends approval.

Motion made by Councilor Baker, seconded by Councilor Brooks. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Baker, Howland, Olson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Councilor Murray voted Nay. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.

(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 21-127
Included with these minutes)

H. Resolution 21-128 Authorizing The Acquisition of Certain Tax-Forfeited Properties
The attached resolution would authorize the acquisition of 14 properties. The City has interest in obtaining tax forfeiture properties. Some property acquisitions would aid in correcting blight and in preserving affordable housing. If left to the general sale, many of these properties’ new owners would discover structural issues and other conditions that would become an expensive proposition to legally correct. Owners would be in an above market value expense range to rehabilitate. To Baker’s question, Rigg stated properties have been reviewed by the Inspection Department to determine which could be preserved and those that are not affordable to rehabilitate. He noted requests for proposals or bids for potential rehabilitation on any of these properties would be determined before the City invested in preserving them.

City Attorney Martinez noted concerns from a legal standpoint regarding the purchase of properties for public use for $1 versus fair market value. Rigg stated the documents received from the County indicated blight control or rehabilitation is an allowable use for acquiring property at or below market rate. Howland commented on the City purchasing real estate, and understands the housing shortage and supports the idea of rehabilitating houses in the community.

Motion made by Councilor Baker, seconded by Councilor Brooks. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.

(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 21-128
Included with these minutes)

MAYOR AND COUNCIL REPORTS:
First Ward, Councilor Murray reported:
• Ward Items – Working on Ward items with the City Manager
• Committee Update – Attended the ALEDA Port Authority last week and reports they are working on new business developments in the community. Attended the Freeborn County Fair and commented on the activities and food.

Second Ward, Councilor Baker reported:
• Ward Items – Mentioned he responded to Sherry Ketterling’s email late this afternoon.
• Committee Update – None

Third Ward, Councilor Howland reported;
• Ward Items – None
• Committee Update – None

Fourth Ward, Councilor Olson reported:
• Ward Items – Received a couple of phone calls requesting to revisit implementing a snow emergency ordinance. Thanked the Albert Lea Baseball Association for the recent tournament and the large number of people in brought in contributing to the community.
• Committee Update – None

Fifth Ward, Councilor Rasmussen reported: ABSENT

Sixth Ward, Councilor Brooks reported:
• Ward Items – Spoke of the improvements on E. 7th Street. Has received calls on parking issues in the City Arena area.
• Committee Update – None

MAYOR’S REPORT:
• Downtown Crazy Days are coming up – August 12 – 14th
SHOP LOCAL!
• Safety Day is tomorrow from 3-7 p.m. at Morin Park. The community is encouraged to attend. Safety personnel will be in attendance.
• Attended the Port Authority meeting and reports there are a lot of good things going on in the community with business prospects.

CITY MANAGER REPORT
• Asked Council if the Climate Action Plan report could be put on the August 23rd council meeting for discussion and potential approval. The plan is available online for public review and he encouraged council and the community to contact him if they have any questions.
• Bolton & Menk have been chosen to review the City’s Comprehensive plan.
• COVID plan will be reviewed with staff after a recent staff member tested positive
• Continue to work with ALEDA
• Continue to work on the 2022 Budget
• The Community Development Director application intake will close on August 20th
• HRA continues to work on filling positions
• Thanked the Department of Public Works for their assistance in working with the County on the main break on Bridge Avenue recently during Fair week.

APPROVAL OF CLAIMS
A. Resolution 21- 129 Approving Claims
(1). Presentation of Claims Over $25,000

Rigg displayed a slide detailing claims over $25,000. In addition, he explained the attached resolution directs the Mayor and City Treasurer to issue the payment of claims as presented in the Detail of Claims report.

Motion made by Councilor Howland to approve payment of claims as presented for checks #79256 through #79391 in the amount of $2,680,976.16. Seconded by Councilor Baker. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 21-129
Included with these minutes)

ADJOURNMENT: 9:03 P.M.

Motion made by Councilor Murray, seconded by Councilor Baker. That there being no further business, the Council meeting adjourn until the next regular meeting of the Albert Lea City Council at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, August 23, 2021. On roll call vote, all councilors voted in favor of said motion.

Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed and the meeting adjourned.

__/s/__________________________
Mayor Vern Rasmussen, Jr.

_/s/___________________________
Daphney Maras
Secretary of the Council