Mayor:  Dan O’Leary

Councilmembers:  Mike Hovey, Steven Bulach, Shari Hansen, and Ginny Beckett

City Attorney:  Tim Kuntz

City Engineer:  Jeff Sandberg

City Treasurer:  Ann Lanoue

Building Inspector: Mike Andrejka
City Forester: Jim Nayes

City Clerk:  Cathy Iago

     and Members of the General Public.

City Planner Lori Johnson and Police Chief Brian Sturgeon were absent.

1.   CALL TO ORDER:  Mayor O’Leary called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.  

2.  APPROVE AGENDA:  Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any additions or corrections to the agenda and there was no response.  

Councilmember Hovey moved to adopt the agenda as presented, seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (5-0)

3.  CONSENT AGENDA:  Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any questions or comments relating to any items on the Consent Agenda and there was no response. 

The Mayor noted that the City Forester had requested additional funds be placed in the 2023 City Budget for tree removal due to Emerald Ash Borer and he thanked the Forester for his diligence in taking great care of trees within the City.

Building Inspector Andrejka explained that he had issued a permit in the City of Mendota for goats to be placed on a property to remove Buckthorn from the site.

The Mayor asked if there were any further comments or questions and there was no response.        

Councilmember Hansen moved approval of the Consent Agenda as presented, seconded by Councilmember Hovey and carried. (5-0)

a.   Regular Council Meeting Minutes of July 12, 2022

b.   List of Bills

c.   Monthly Financial Statements

d.   Receive Building Inspector Report

e.   Receive Forester Report

f.    Receive Public Safety Report


4.  COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC:  The Mayor asked if there were any comments from the public and there was no response.


6.  PLANNER’S REPORT:  a. Planner’s Report:  Engineer Sandberg explained that the Planner was on vacation and he would review the information listed in the report dated August 2, 2022.  He noted that there was no planning meeting in July due to lack of applications.  He reviewed the following information:

1.  300 Salem Church Road:  There is nothing new to report on this unpaid escrow in the amount of $2,709.35.

Mayor O’Leary asked if this was the Wilsey property and Councilmember Bulach responded yes.  The Mayor explained that the property owners disagree with the amount of escrow owed to the City.  He stated he discussed taking legal action with the City Attorney who indicated that the cost of seeking legal action to collect the escrow fee could be more expensive than the total amount of escrow owed by the property owners.

Councilmember Bulach stated that his company would be doing some final work at that property and suggested he could ask the owners to appear before Council to discuss the matter and attempt to reach an agreement.

Mayor O’Leary suggested that Councilmember Bulach may be able to negotiate with the property owners to reach an agreeable settlement of the escrow funds they still owe to the City.  He noted that the settlement could then be presented to Council for their review and approval at a future meeting.

Councilmember Beckett asked if the property owners were advised of the overage in the escrow account and the Mayor responded yes.

Mayor O’Leary commented that it would be expeditious to allow Councilmember Bulach to negotiate a settlement.

Councilmember Beckett stated that she agreed it may be beneficial to negotiate with the property owners, however, she did not favor the City backing down from pursuing legal action.

Councilmember Hovey asked if the funds owed could be added to the property taxes for payment.

Attorney Kuntz responded that the City could not certify the escrow owed to property taxes and that it would have to be pursued through court action for collection.

There was a brief discussion relating to possible costs for pursuing legal action and it was determined that the costs would be significantly higher than the total amount owed due to staff time to prepare and other associated costs.

Council concurred to allow Councilmember Bulach to negotiate with the property owners in an attempt to collect the escrow fees they owe to the City and report back to Council at a future meeting.

Councilmember Bulach noted that the property owners had questioned some of the items listed in the bill and that he would contact the property owners to discuss payment of the escrow fees.

Engineer Sandberg stated that he could send Councilmember Bulach any documentation needed to negotiate with the property owners.  

2.  Additional Escrows:  Letters were sent to 100 Windy Hill Road and 15 Sunnyside Lane to obtain additional escrow monies related to their Major Site Plan application projects.

3.  2184 Charlton Road:  The property owners and their architect submitted a Variance application to allow a third garage stall to an existing garage.  At this time the application remains incomplete as some items still need to be submitted.  This item is tentatively scheduled for the September Planning Commission meeting pending receipt of the plans required to be submitted.

4.  245 Salem Church Road: The construction of a new home on this site is now complete.  The City Engineer and Planner conducted an inspection on the property and found that site work is not yet completed.   The property owners hoped to move in on August 1st and, given that the site work was not completed, staff required an escrow agreement be signed by the homeowners to allow for a temporary Certificate of Occupancy to be issued. The property owners submitted an escrow check to cover 125% of the remaining work costs with a deadline for completion of the work in September.

Mayor O’Leary noted that the property owner advised that some pavers were ordered but had been delayed for delivery on a ship.  He stated that the City Attorney advised the property owner to let the City know if the pavers do not arrive on time and they could request an extension at that time. 

5.  11 Salem Lane:  The Planner is working with an applicant on a demolition permit for an existing home on the site.  There are several informational items that must be submitted prior to issuing a permit and an escrow check must also be submitted.

6.  Escrow Meeting:  Staff met with the Mayor, Treasurer, City Clerk, City Attorney, and Engineer to discuss reconciling old escrow accounts and establishing a process to track escrows moving forward.

Councilmember Bulach asked if there was an issue with the building permit for 15 Sunnyside Lane as there has been no activity at that site.

Engineer Sandberg stated he was not aware of any issues.

Building Inspector Andrejka explained that he advised the contractor that he needed two sets of construction drawings.   The Building Inspector stated that the contractor needs to send a survey electronically to the Planner so that the Building Inspector could compare them to ensure he has the same plans that were approved by the City.  He further stated that the City’s Septic Inspector advised him not to issue a building permit until such time as the septic system was installed and reviewed for approval. 

Engineer Sandberg explained that he and the City Planner had received a drop box link from the contractor earlier today that was extremely large and may have been the files the Building Inspector requested.

Councilmember Bulach thanked staff for their explanation and stated he would let the property owner know that the delay was not the fault of the City.

Clerk Iago advised that the August Planning Commission meeting was cancelled due to lack of applications.

Council thanked the Engineer for reviewing the planning report.

7.  ENGINEER’S REPORT:  1. Engineering Activities Undertaken in July:     A. Meetings Attended:  Staff attended a meeting for the Dakota County Regional Roadway System Visioning Study.  Engineer Sandberg explained that this was most likely the last meeting for the group as the study is now completed.  Staff will present the final study at the September meeting along with a resolution from Dakota County requesting Council approval.

B.  2022 Street Maintenance Projects:  The contractor stopped working on Salem Church Road due to a misunderstanding caused by the fact that an Addendum to the contract was not sent to the people working in the field. The contractor advised staff that they will finish the work within the next week.  All the work on the other streets in the project should be completed at this time.

C.  No Solicitation Signage: The installation of the No Solicitation Signage is on hold at this time.  Staff has been working with the City Attorney on Minnesota State Statute language to be added to the sign.

D.  2023 Engineering Budget/CIP:  Staff prepared a final draft of the 2023 Engineer/Public Works and CIP budget that was reviewed by the Council at a study meeting earlier this evening.

E.  Escrow Accounts:  Engineer Sandberg explained that he attended a meeting with the Mayor, City Attorney, Planner, Treasurer and City Clerk to discuss reconciling and closing out past project escrow accounts and establishing a procedure to ensure the accounts are reconciled in the future.

2.  Building and Site review in the Month of July:  A.  Staff conducted reviews for the following property this past month: 245 Salem Church Road:  Staff conduced a final site review of the finished improvements.  Work remains and staff is working with the homeowner and City Attorney to develop an escrow agreements to allow a temporary Certificate of Occupancy to be issued.

3.    Public Works Activities Undertaken in the Month of July:   A.  Staff coordinated the final work for the crack seal and chip seal work on the 2022 Street Maintenance Projects.   Engineer Sandberg explained that there would be no payment towards the project this month.

4.   Anticipated Engineering and Public Works Activities for August:   A. Staff will coordinate the final project close-out on the 2022 Street Maintenance Projects this month and the Final Payment should be submitted for Council action in September.

Councilmember Bulach asked when the contractor would be sweeping the loose road and striping the street.

Engineer Sandberg stated he would contact the contractor tomorrow to inquire about the time-frame to finish the project and that he anticipates it should be completed sometime this week. 

Council thanked the Engineer for his report.

8.  NEW/OTHER BUSINESS:  a. Discuss Proposed City of Sunfish Lake 2023 Budget and Tax Levy:  Mayor O’Leary explained that Council held a Study Meeting earlier this evening to discuss the proposed 2023 Sunfish Lake Budget and Tax Levy. He asked the Treasurer to provide a brief overview of the budget discussion.

Treasurer Lanoue stated that the preliminary Taxable Market Value and Tax Capacity Valuation had increased 17 percent this year.  She briefly reviewed the requests for funding from staff that were discussed at the study meeting held earlier this evening.

The Treasurer explained that there would be an additional line item in the 2023 budget for a new law firm that would handle prosecutions along with the regular line item for the City Attorney’s firm that handles all civil and City matters. She also explained that funds would be allocated for review of the two sections of the City Code, the Administrative Code section and the Zoning Code Section.  She advised that Council had previously authorized funds for the Planner, Engineer and Attorney to review the Zoning Code this year.  She noted that additional funds in the amount of $20,250 for the City Attorney’s time and $38,000 for the Planner’s time would be added to the 2023 budget for review of the Administrative section of the City Code.

Treasurer Lanoue stated that the City Forester had requested additional funds for tree removal due to Emerald Ash Borer.

Mayor O’Leary commented that there were also additional funds requested for an audit.

The Treasurer advised that Council discussed placing $15,000 in the 2023 budget to conduct an audit of City accounts.  She explained that Attorney Kuntz suggested that an additional $3,000 be included, for a total of $18,000, since there maybe additional research relating to the escrow issues that would not be covered in a regular audit.

Mayor O’Leary pointed out that Council discussed the possibility of levying for the escrow deficit amount in the preliminary budget and noted that Council could remove the funds at the December hearing, however, they could not add additional funds into the budget at that time. 

Treasurer Lanoue explained that she would prepare the preliminary 2023 Budget and Tax Levy for Council to consider for adoption at their September meeting. She stated that the Preliminary Budget would be certified to Dakota County in September at the maximum rate, however, it may be reduced after further discussion at the December meeting.  She further stated that she would calculate the 2023 tax capacity rate for comparison to the 2022 tax rate on five (5) random properties within the City.  She noted that Council would be able to review the information prior to adopting the preliminary budget and tax levy at the September meeting and that the final budget and tax levy would not be adopted until December.  She offered to respond to questions.

b. Other:  Mayor O’Leary explained that he would be on vacation from August 26 through September 11 and that Councilmember Hovey would serve as Acting Mayor in his absence.  He asked if there was any further business and there was no response.

9.  ADJOURN:   Mayor O’Leary adjourned the meeting at 7:30 p.m.

____________________________                              ________________________________

Catherine Iago, City Clerk                                             Dan O’Leary, Mayor

We are a small community proud of our heritage and committed to the preservation of our pristine, rural character. We cherish our privacy, yet know we are part of a thriving Dakota County and the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area. With these partnerships in mind, we strive to preserve that unique spirit which is Sunfish Lake, Minnesota.