July 26, 2021

REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY OF ALBERT LEA
Monday, July 26, 2021, 7:00 p.m.

PRESENT: Mayor Vern Rasmussen, Jr., Councilors Rich Murray, Larry Baker, Jason Howland, Reid Olson and Robert Rasmussen. Also present were City Manager Ian Rigg, Public Works Director Steven Jahnke, Public Safety Director JD Carlson and Council Secretary Pro-Tem Wendy Flugum

City Attorney Kelly Martinez attended via Zoom

ABSENT: Councilor Al Brooks and City Clerk Daphney Maras

CEREMONIAL ITEMS – None

PUBLIC FORUM

Sherry Ketterling, 206 Lake Street stated that she lives in Freeborn County and asked if everyone has seen the video of Lisa Hanson delivering court papers, and what threat that posed. She also asked what is going to be done about the serious abuse of power by City Attorney Kelly Martinez, noting that she will continue to be at every single council meeting.

Christopher Penrod expressed disappointment in elected and unelected officials and their choice not to renew the lease, stating that they are standing against people’s constitutional rights and small buinesses that residents rely on. He further stated that the Constitution warns of executive orders not following proper procedure to become law. Penrod said from his perspective, enforcing it as law makes city officials the domestic terrorists, as they were not elected to frivously spend taxpayer dollars, but rather to run the city according to the United States Constitution. He went on to say that he “respectfully reminds Council that the Constitution is the law of the land, and that the Governor’s executive orders do not supersede the Constitution.” He urged Council to reign in the City Attorney and her personal vendetta against Lisa Hanson, as well as the City Manager; and also restore a functional system of checks and balances to the city power structure. Elected officials should be making decisions. Lastly he encouraged the city to foster an environment that welcomes small businesses.

Daniel Hanson stated that a lot of people are feeling that elected and unelected officials need to be responsible and fulfill the duties that the office holds them to. Hanson said he would like answers, further stating that Lisa Hanson has not heard anything about the lease. Mr. Hanson encouraged Council to get their act together.

Lisa Hanson spoke to Council, stating that she feels like she is coming in an adversarial relationship with them. She apologized for her lackadaisical approach to being a good citizen. She went on to say that “as elected officals and hired employees, you may have lost your way and forgotten the very oath you swore to the constitution.” She said that as public servants, it’s their duty to know their limitations, and that government answers to the people. She stated that “we the people” have been absent, committing deriliction of duty. In closing she said, “we are engaged and we are watching you; we are awake and alert and it’s time for you to wake up with us.”

Keith Haskell stated that he does not want Council to feel attacked, but noted that there have been six meetings where Lisa Hanson has been in front of the Council, but Public Forum does not take questions or give answers. He commented that we can’t go forward as a city or business district, so went to city council website but did not find a form for getting on the city council meeting.

Rod Johnson thanked the Mayor and Council for the opportunity to speak and inquired whether or not they had received an email dated July 15th regarding the Marina and possible restaurant to be located at the city beach. He provided a list of other city locations for these projects. He also spoke to Councilor Murray and asked if he could be included in further discussion or meetings.

Debbie Proulx reiterated from the last council meeting that she would like to have better communcation. She believes that the real issue comes down to poor communcation, and stated that as residents, “we want to know what’s happening.” She further noted that she wants to shop here and keep people in business. She has heard that it’s difficult for small businesses to communicate with the City. She also commented that a marina located at the beach would be awesome and asked if the skate park could be relocated.

Closed public forum.

CONSENT AND APPROVAL OF AGENDA
A. Approve Minutes Of The July 12, 2021 Regular Council Meeting
B. Approve Minutes Of The July 12, 2021 Work Session
C. License & Permits
D. Resolution Authorizing Additional Repairs To The Marion Ross Theater Elevator

Mayor Rasmussen read the Consent Agenda items and removed item 8A, Resolution Adopting the Climate Action Plan, as Council would like more time to review the plan before adopting it.

Motion made by Councilor Baker to approve the Consent Agenda as read, including the removal of item 8A, ‘Resolution Adopting the Climate Action Plan;’ seconded by Councilor Howland. On roll call vote, the following councilors voted in favor of said motion: Murray, Baker, Howland, Olson, Rasmussen and Mayor Rasmussen. Mayor Rasmussen declared the motion passed. Councilor Brooks was absent.

(See Secretary’s Original Resolution 21-116 Included with these minutes)

PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND COMMUNICATIONS – None

UNFINISHED BUSINESS – None

NEW BUSINESS

A. Resolution Adopting City of Albert Lea Climate Action Plan (Removed by Motion)

B. Water Tower Discussion –

City Manager Rigg asked Public Works Director (City Engineer) Steven Jahnke to speak on this matter. Jahnke noted that the City opened bids which came in at $6.9 million, which was significantly higher than the City Engineer’s estimate of $4.5 million. Since that time they are looking at the Blazing Star Landing (BSL) site and have done borings and a survey. Staff is still waiting on contamination results so haven’t finished the evaluation of the BSL; what they are finding is that the central water tower is still the preferred site. The entire watermain system is geared up for that site which is where it orginally was. To move to the Blazing Star Landing, the city would have to upgrade watermains, going out to Garfield and east of there. Soil boring results show that excavation has to go down 20 ft. to place footings. It would still require rebuilding the parking lot and putting a road in, so ultimately thought $1 to $1.2 million in savings, but that number keeps getting smaller and smaller. Staff will more than likely recommend that the tower goes back to the central site. Over an 80 year period, the difference would be significant. Staff originally wanted to use PFA funds, but more than likely will recommend not using this fund so there would be savings with that. Finance is looking at bonding internally and would see a .4% higher rate at the Central Tower, and hopefully lower than that. There is a 60 day window for demolition and staff is asking Council to approve demolition with the caveat that the City Manager can pull it back, if determined that the Blazing Star Landing is the better site. Staff will come back on August 9th with a recommendation.

Howland asked Jahnke to explain the reason behind such a dramatic difference between what the estimate was and the actual bids. Jahnke explained that steel prices have gone up, and there are three companies in the U.S. that build the larger tanks and all of them are busy. If it was bid a year from now, there is no guarantee that the City would see anything lower.

C. Resolution 21-117 Accepting Bid And Awarding Contract For The Central Water Tower Demolition (Job 2056)

City Manager Rigg stated that just as City Engineer Jahnke explained, staff is asking for a resolution to be passed so the City can potentially award the bid, or if by August 7th, it is decided that the Blazing Star Site is more suitable, it upholds approving the contract for demolition. Three bids were received and both Engineering and Bolton & Menk recommended the low bid of $93,691.00 as submitted by U.S. Site Work, Inc. of Elk River, Minnesota. The Engineer’s original estimate was $220,000.00. Staff is evaluating the site and the bid is only good until August 7th, at which time it would be a potential significant increase if waiting past August 7th. Staff is asking for the discretion to sign or reject it up to that date as they continue to get data. Rigg stated that City Engineer Jahnke and staff have worked very hard to find alternatives to reduce the cost from what was originally budgeted and find a way to save the ratepayers money.

Motion made by Councilor Baker to approve, seconded by Councilor Howland.

Baker asked if there is a timeline to this contact. Jahnke responded that the bid is good through August 7th. Jahnke also noted that the last piece is to determine whether there is contamination at the Blazing Star Landing. Baker then asked about the process of building; Jahnke responded that if the City builds the new tower at the Central location, the existing tower would be removed and then build the new one. If the Blazing Star is the final site, the demolition of the existing tower could wait until the new one is completed.

Howland stated that he is very happy that the City is moving forward with this project, as the current water tower is such an eyesore for the downtown and looks worse every year. Also commented that it’s great that the bid came in significantly lower than the estimate.

MAYOR AND COUNCIL REPORTS:

First Ward, Councilor Murray reported:

  • Ward Items – No items to report, acknowledged that it’s good to have so many people in attendance at this meeting, and said that that when he needs feedback or input on specific items, he walks down the street to ask people and business owners . Also stated that this community is pro small business as they are important to the community. In addition, he noted that councilmembers are available to speak to regarding that, as well as the City Manager and ALEDA.

Second Ward, Councilor Baker reported:

  • Ward Items – Working with City Manager on one ward item.
  • Committee Updates – Attended Heritage Preservation Commission for approval of Certificates of Appropriateness for repairs at 111 E. Clark Street, as well as approval of a banner at the American Legion. Also attended an HRA meeting and approved financial reports and payables. Also spoke with Commissioner Herman after the meeting about what the City and County could do together and the possibility of holding joint City/County meetings again. Attended Board of Appeals to review a request for a retaining wall. Represented the City at the July 21st Ribbon Cutting for the Mercy One facility. Acknowledged the retirement of Detective Ben Mortenson; also expressed condolences to the Stadheim/Ordalen family.

Third Ward, Councilor Howland reported:

  • Ward Items – None
  • Committee Update – Was out of town and unable to attend Clean-Up Day and the Parks & Recreation Board meeting. Also apologized to Mr. Johnson and said his in-box was full, and encouraged people to contact him on the Marina idea.

Fourth Ward, Councilor Olson reported:

  • Ward Items – Working with City Engineer on an issue related to the Bridge Street construction.
  • Committee Update – Attended HRA meeting and reported that they received a grant from Urban Development and thanked the Director for working on that. It will take care of the majority of the multi-million dollar project.

Fifth Ward, Councilor Rasmussen reported:

  • Ward Items – Working on ward items and thanked the audience for attending this meeting.
  • Committee Update – None

Sixth Ward, Councilor Brooks (Absent)

MAYOR’S REPORT:

  • Appointment of New Member to Board of Appeals: Mayor Rasmussen asked for a motion to appoint Jacob Peterson. Murray made motion to approve, seconded by Baker. Also noted there is one more opening on this board.
  • Nation of Patriots Day – Mayor invited the public to attend this event, to be held July 31st.

CITY MANAGER REPORT

  • Rigg noted he will be attending the CGMC Conference in Alexandria, working with the Coalition and Flaherty & Hood to get the $30 million added to the state bonding bill for 2022. Had a meeting today to review information and will reach out to some businesses to communicate with them about that.
  • Staff is currently working on budgets, which is a lengthy process. Have also received proposals and done interviews with three firms for the City’s Comprehensive Plan.
  • Staff is working on certain properties related to tax forfeiture and looking at a housing list and trying to find ways to mitigate the City’s housing issues, as well as looking at properties that may need to be demolished over the next few years.
  • The Library continues to operate at a limited capacity and has found that the Children’s Outdoor Program at the Park is very well attended. The Library is now seeing curbside delivery drop dramatically as they are officially open, and will continue to evaluate all services. As more staff comes back, they may look at extending hours and returning to close to normal operations.
  • Staff is working on code updates so may have a Zoning related item at the next meeting.
  • Also need to review some of the council appointments to boards and commissions.
  • A special meeting is planned for August 10th at Township Hall regarding annexation.
  • Mayor noted the $30 million is regarding the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

APPROVAL OF CLAIMS

A. Resolution 21-118 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 #79110 through #79254 in the amount of $788,836.45; 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 21-118
Included with these minutes)

ADJOURNMENT: 7:55 P.M.

Motion made by Councilor Murray, seconded by Councilor Howland, that there being no further business, the Council meeting adjourns until the next regular meeting of the Albert Lea City Council at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, August 9, 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/__________________________
Wendy Flugum
Council Secretary Pro-Tem