REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY OF ALBERT LEA
Monday, September 11, 2017, 7:00 P.M.
PRESENT: Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr., Councilors Rich Murray, Larry Baker, Jason Howland, Reid Olson, Robert Rasmussen, and Al Brooks. Also present were City Manager Chad Adams, City Attorney Lee Bjorndal, City Engineer Steven Jahnke, Finance Director Kristi Brutlag and City Clerk Daphney Maras.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
John Chadwick, 4477 Manitou Rd., Excelsior, MN. Mr. Chadwick stated he owns an apartment building on Park Avenue. As part of the Park Avenue reconstruction project, the sidewalk was realigned in front of the building exposing some unsightly portions of the wall. Mr. Chadwick is asking the wall be changed to look as good as or better than the original wall. He is also asking the City to pay the total replacement cost.
Paul Overgaard, 1728 Bay Oak Drive, Mr. Overgaard pleaded with council to consider contributing $35,000 to help cover the expense of hiring a forensic health accountant. He commented the City should not be a feeder for the wellbeing of Rochester Mayo operation. He cited the changes to Fairmont’s healthcare as an example of what can happen in Albert Lea. Mr. Overgaard stated he vehemently believes property values will decline with the loss of Mayo’s full service hospital.
Mayor Rasmussen closed the public forum and listed the items on the agenda. Rasmussen reviewed each item using the information from the “What’s Behind It?”
CONSENT AND APPROVAL OF AGENDA
A. Approve Minutes Of The August 28, 2017 Regular Council Meeting
B. Approve Minutes Of The August 24, 2017 Work Session
C. Licenses & Permits (See Attached List)
D. Resolution Accepting Donation Of Goods Or Services For The Albert Lea Splash Pad Project
E. Resolution Calling A Public Hearing On Proposed Assessments For The 2017 Neighborhood Improvement, East Main Street Frontage Road And Landfill Road Reconstruction Project (Job 1701)
F. Resolution Calling A Public Hearing On Proposed Assessments For The Sunset Street Reconstruction Project (Job 1614)
G. Resolution Calling A Public Hearing On Proposed Assessments For The South Broadway Avenue (CSAH 18) – 14th Street To TH-65 Improvement Project (Job 1604)
H. Resolution Calling A Public Hearing On Proposed Assessments For The Lake Avenue And East College Street Reconstruction Project (Job 1607)
I. Resolution Calling A Public Hearing On Proposed Assessment For The Delinquent Water/Sewer Accounts And Misc. Delinquent Accounts Receivable
J. Resolution Authorizing City of Albert Lea To Execute Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration ‘Memorandum Of Agreement’ For Remote Communications Outlet
K. Resolution Declaring Fall Hometown Pride Cleanup Day And Authorizing Reduced Rates At Transfer Station
L. Approve Sewer Repair Assessment Form And Waiver Of Assessment Rights For 718 Water Street
M. Approve Hunting on Blumer and Schlede Properties
MOTION: Move to approve the consent agenda as presented.
Motion made by Councilor Baker, seconded by Councilor Murray. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Howland, Baker, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 17-166-173 included with these minutes)
PETITIONS, REQUESTS, AND COMMUNICATIONS
Adams provided an update on the most recent meetings and conversations regarding Mayo Hospital services. He said he and Councilor Murray participated in a meeting with local representatives, and Mayo officials on Friday. During the meeting, local representatives pressed Mayo officials to delay the planned transition of most inpatient services to Austin. Adams announced the Attorney General’s office provided a memo to the county attorney indicating no laws were broken by Mayo. The memo suggested action the City and/or community could consider. This included hiring a forensic health care accountant. Adams explained conversation at the last work session included hiring a health care accountant to perform an audit or a pro forma/feasibility assessment. The result of this assessment could determine if the community can sustain and have a profitable acute care hospital with or without Mayo’s involvement in the future. The cost to hire this individual would be a cost shared with the City, Save Our Hospital, and hopefully, the County adding Mayo would not be asked to contribute. Adams anticipates the City’s contribution to be up to $35,000. He explained this request would require a motion to direct the City Manager and Mayor Pro-Tem to hire a health care accountant, in collaboration with the two entities mentioned.
Mayor Rasmussen recused himself from the vote, as did Councilor Howland as they are both Mayo employees. Mayor Rasmussen passed the gavel to Mayor Pro-Tem Baker.
Baker opened up the public forum for discussion. Brad Arends, Co-Chair of the Save Our Hospital group read aloud a response from the Attorney General’s Office advising local representatives to hire a forensic health care finance consultant. He said there are hospitals that are not owned by Mayo but have similar characteristics to the Albert Lea hospital. Arends stated these non-Mayo owned hospitals are making three to five percent revenue on their full service acute care hospitals and have the same number of Medicare and Medicaid patients as Albert Lea. Arends asked council to hire a Forensic Health Care Accountant.
MOTION: I move to direct the City Manager and Mayor Pro-Tem to hire a Forensic Health Care Accountant at a cost to the City of up to $35,000.
Motion made by Councilor Brooks, seconded by Councilor Murray. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks. Mayor Rasmussen and Councilor Howland abstained. Mayor Pro-Tem Baker declared the motion passed.
Councilor Rasmussen asked where the City will receive recommendations to choose a forensic accountant. Adams responded that Save Our Hospital group provided a few suggestions and he has other firms that have provided this type of service.
Baker commented that this issue is an emotional one for the community and all concerned. He stated in the eleven years he has served on this council, this is the first major issue where everyone involved has remained on the same side. He added that he is proud to be a member of this community and council.
Baker handed the gavel back to Mayor Rasmussen.
RESOLUTION 17-174 REINSTATING 1525 BLAKE AVENUE ASSESSMENTS
Adams explained this resolution re-instates the principal balance of $39,751.96 and waives the total accrued interest balance of $31,599.41 on the assessments outstanding effective January 1, 2018. This includes a new interest rate of 3.94% over a 15 year period. In addition, new triggers have been added to Sec. 3 of this resolution to reflect changes that would require assessments be paid in full should any of the triggers occur.
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, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
Brooks asked if the owner has any concerns with this arrangement to which Adams responded the owner agreed this is a fair compromise.
Councilor Rasmussen asked for clarification of the payment plan. Adams explained the assessments will go on the property tax statement. Payments would be split so half is paid in the spring and the other half in the fall to total approximately $4,000 annually. Rasmussen also asked if this property could ultimately be used for commercial use should the owner ever vacate. Adams confirmed it could.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 17-174 included with these minutes)
RESOLUTION 17-175 ADOPTING THE 2018 PRELIMINARY BUDGET AND PROPERTY TAX LEVY
Brutlag led council through the 2018 preliminary budget and property tax levy as well as the Albert Lea Housing and Redevelopment Authority preliminary property tax levy for fiscal year 2018. She delivered a PowerPoint presentation displaying slides that contained information about the 2018 budget and Preliminary Tax Levy. Brutlag noted, once again, there are no changes to the general fund levy which has stayed the same since 2013. She stated the total tax levy will increase approximately 2%.
Howland asked why the expenditures continue to increase year after year. Brutlag responded it is mostly due to inflation as well as salaries and increased health care costs. She suggested this could be reviewed in more detail with each department head as they present their budgets in upcoming meetings. Council engaged in discussion regarding the preliminary budget including budget surplus and debt levy obligations. Brutlag invited council to contact her if they have any questions or suggestions.
Motion made by Councilor Brooks, seconded by Councilor Rasmussen. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 17-175 included with these minutes)
RESOLUTION 17-176 APPROVING ALBERT LEA HOUSING AND REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY PRELIMINARY PROPERTY TAX LEVY FOR FISCAL YEAR 2018
Motion made by Councilor Olson, seconded by Councilor Baker. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 17-176 included with these minutes)
MAYOR AND COUNCIL REPORTS
First Ward, Councilor Murray reported:
- Ward Items – has received calls regarding the Mayo Hospital changes
- Committee Update – Attended a Greater Jobs and ALEDA meeting last week. Also attended hospital meetings.
Second Ward, Councilor Baker reported:
- Ward Items – Asked if his previous report of garbage cans on Lewis Street have been addressed as they are sitting on the curb and neighbors have been complaining. Adams said he will ask staff to look into it. Baker also sent well wishes to former Mayor Randy Erdman who recently underwent triple bypass surgery.
- Committee – Attended Save Our Hospital Meeting at the Legion on Sunday night. Encouraged the community to attend these meetings.
Third Ward, Councilor Howland reported:
- Ward Items – None
- Committee – Attended interviews for architects for the proposed fire station along with Murray and Adams, and will provide a recommendation soon.
Fourth Ward, Councilor Olson reported:
- Ward Items – None
- Committee Update – None
Fifth Ward, Councilor Rasmussen reported:
- Ward Items – None
- Committee Update – None
Sixth Ward, Councilor Brooks reported:
- Ward Items – Received phone calls on nuisance properties.
Committee Update – None
Mayor Rasmussen gave updates and announced upcoming events:
- Sept 13-15 – The City of Albert Lea is hosting the 37th annual statewide Historic Preservation Conference this week, preservation sessions and tours are included for conference attendees. Local residents may purchase tickets for the ‘Hometown Harvest Dinner’ being held this Thursday, Sept 14th, from 5:30 to 8PM on the 100 block of Broadway Avenue. Dinner tickets are available at the CVB and the Chamber for anyone wishing to attend.
- Sept 23 – The Upper Midwest Power Boat Association will hold their Fountain Lake Power Boat Drag Race on Saturday, September 23rd starting at 1:00 p.m. The race course is between North Edgewater Park and the Edgewater Pavilion. There is no admission fee – the public is invited to attend.
- Attended a Port Authority meeting. Discussion of a potential new employer interested in coming to Albert Lea. Also mentioned Zumbro River Brand is building a 75,000 sq. ft. distribution center that will add 20 more jobs.
CITY MANAGER REPORT –
- Announced the House Capital Investment Committee was in Albert Lea to review the community bonding projects for this year. This includes the Riverland Community College Truck/Diesel Mechanic expansion and remodeling, the extension of the Blazing Star Trail, as well as review of the Blazing Star Landing.
- The Blue Zones team will be in town tomorrow to review East Main St. from downtown to Blake Ave. to envision a trail/sidewalk along that corridor. Also to consider a Greenway corridor from the abandoned rail between Front St. and Main St. extending out to Hwy. 13.
APPROVAL OF CLAIMS
RESOLUTION 17-177 APPROVING CLAIMS
Adams displayed claims over $25,000 providing detail explanation of each.
Adams explained that the attached resolution directs the Mayor and City Clerk 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 #65182 through #65322 in the amount of $961,698.86, seconded by Councilor Rasmussen. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen, Baker, Brooks and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed.
(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 17-177 Included with these minutes)
ADJOURNMENT – 8:09 PM
Motion made by Councilor Brooks, 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, September 25, 2017. On roll call vote, all councilors voted in favor of said motion. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed and the meeting adjourned.
Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr.