SUNFISH LAKE CITY COUNCIL MEETING – DECEMEBER 7, 2021
7:00 P.M. – ONLINE MEETING
Mayor: Dan O’Leary
Councilmembers: Mike Hovey, Steven Bulach and Shari Hansen
City Attorney: Tim Kuntz
City Planner: Lori Johnson
City Engineer: Jeff Sandberg
City Treasurer: Ann Lanoue
Building Inspector: Mike Andrejka
City Forester: Jim Nayes
Police Chief: Brian Sturgeon
City Clerk: Cathy Iago
and Members of the General Public.
Councilmember JoAnne Wahlstrom was absent and Clerk Iago arrived at 7:04 p.m.
1. CALL TO ORDER: Mayor O’Leary called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m. He explained that he spoke to Councilmember Wahlstrom and she advised that she would be absent due to medical issues. He stated that he received her approval to share with Council that her absence was due to the fact that she would be undergoing chemotherapy treatments. On behalf of Council, he extended wishes that her treatment would be successful. He encouraged everyone present to keep JoAnne and her family in their thoughts and prayers.
2. APPROVE AGENDA: Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any additions or corrections to the agenda and there was no response.
Councilmember Hansen moved to adopt the agenda as presented, seconded by Councilmember Hovey and carried. (4-0)
3. CONSENT AGENDA: Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any questions or comments relating to any items on the Consent Agenda.
Chief Sturgeon stated that unfortunately a catalytic converter was stolen from a vehicle parked in a church parking lot, however, other than that incident, it was a fairly quiet month for police. He stated that there were no false alarms this month.
Councilmember Hovey asked which church the vehicle was parked at when the theft of a catalytic converter occurred.
Chief Surgeon stated it occurred at First Calvary Baptist church.
Forester Nayes explained that he would need the Mayor to sign the Tree City USA annual application on behalf of the City. He also advised that Arbor Day would be scheduled on the first Saturday in May, 2022, which is May 7th. He requested Council action to designate that date as Arbor Day in Sunfish Lake.
Mayor O’Leary moved to designate May 7, 2022 as Arbor Day in Sunfish Lake, seconded by Councilmember Hansen and carried. (4-0)
Chief Sturgeon advised that the Metro Bowhunters had completed their hunt for the year and had taken three (3) antlerless deer and one (1) buck. He advised that all of the deer taken tested negative for chronic wasting disease. He noted the resident hunters reported two (2) deer had been taken, one (1) antlerless deer and one (1) buck to date.
The Mayor asked if there were any further comments or questions and there was no response.
Councilmember Hovey moved approval of the Consent Agenda as presented, seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (4-0)
a. Regular Council Meeting Minutes of November 9, 2021
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.
5. PUBLIC HEARING: a. Public Hearing to Consider Budget and Tax Levy for the Year 2022: Mayor O’Leary opened the meeting at 7:15 p.m. for the purpose of conducting a public hearing to consider the City of Sunfish Lake General Fund Budget and Tax Levy for the year 2022. He explained that Treasurer Lanoue would present her report and then Council would receive questions and comments from the public. He stated that Council would take formal action to adopt the 2022 General Fund Budget and Tax Levy later in the meeting.
Treasurer Lanoue stated that the information presented this evening would relate to the year 2022 and that this presentation would focus only on the City of Sunfish Lake. She explained that other entities, such as the school district, Dakota County, and others also impact residential taxes. She stated that the tax capacity rate that was sent to the City from Dakota County had increased 9.96%, which is the same amount that was reviewed by Council at their September meeting when the preliminary budget and tax levy was adopted.
The Treasurer referred to the Taxable Market Value Comparison information and advised that the proposed change for residential property would increase 9.02% from last year and the Tax Capacity Value increased 9.09%. She explained that this was based on new construction. She also reviewed the Tax Levies for General Operating Budget and the Bond Levy. She advised that this must be certified in September and must agree with the information sent by Dakota County.
Treasurer Lanoue reviewed the proposed 2022 City Budget which includes an increase of 9.09% due to a Budget increase from $557,629 to $592,071 and an increase in the Bond Levy from $112,000 to $144,000. This was due to the recent bond sale to assist in financing the recent street improvement projects. She noted the only other change proposed in Revenues was based on an 25% increase under “Fines”. The increase in revenues is 8.06%
The Treasurer referred to the proposed 2022 Expenditures information and stated that the proposed budget includes an 8.60% increase. She reviewed the minor changes, noting that the City Attorney showed a decrease and that the police and fire show a slight increase. She explained that the Street Maintenance budget shows an increase from $127,390 in 2021 to $241,100 proposed for 2022.
Mayor O’Leary asked if this includes amounts paid towards the street improvements and asked why this item had an 89% increase.
Treasurer Lanoue stated that Council had reviewed the 2022 Capital Improvement Plan and that was the amount shown in the plan for street maintenance as discussed in September.
Engineer Sandberg explained that the increase was due to the costs for street projects schedule to be undertaken in 2022. He noted that the projects done this year were assessable and the costs for the proposed 2022 projects are not assessable.
Treasurer Lanoue reviewed minor increases to the snowplowing and City Forester budgets and stated that there would be a reduction under Rent/Supplies/Website of $6,240 since the City no longer pays rent for meeting space. She stated that surcharge payments to the State and bond interest and principal are mostly the same amounts.
The Treasurer stated that adoption of the 2022 General Fund Budget and Tax Levy would be considered by Council later on the agenda. She explained that these items must be certified and sent to Dakota County and the State Auditor by December 31, 2021.
The Mayor asked if there were any questions or comments from the public and, hearing no response, asked for a motion to close the public hearing.
Councilmember Bulach moved to close the public hearing at 7:25 p.m., seconded by Councilmember Hansen and carried. (4-0)
6. PLANNER’S REPORT: a. Planner’s Report: Planner Johnson reviewed the following information listed in her report dated November 29, 2021. She stated that the December Planning Commission meeting was cancelled due to the lack of applications. She advised that she expects an application may be submitted for review at the January, 2022 meeting.
The Planner advised that she met with the Building Official, City Engineer and Councilmember Hansen on December 3rd to discuss the process and policy for obtaining demolition permits in the City. She stated that ideas were discussed at the meeting. She further advised that after the first of the year, she would begin the process of working with Council and the Planning Commission on updating the Zoning Ordinance. She requested that Council determine if they wanted staff to review the entire ordinance or review only the sections that had been previously discussed with the former planner. She stated that she would discuss this further with Council at the January meeting and asked that they consider how they wished to proceed with the update.
Planner Johnson reviewed the following November Planning Updates:
1. 369 Salem Church Road: The homeowner has been working on completing the improvements to the pond that were required prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. The contractor has completed this work and will most likely want to obtain the Certificate of Occupancy soon. There are some outstanding escrow payments that need to be submitted and the homeowner has been notified of this issue.
2. An application for site plan review was received from the property owner at 2150 Charlton Road and staff is working with the applicant to submit additional material to complete the application. The application would be for installation of a fire pit and a path to the lake. This item may be placed on a January Planning Commission agenda and heard by Council in February.
3. 300 Salem Church Road: The homeowner requested a final inspection be conducted on the pool and retaining wall work that was approved for this site. There are some outstanding escrow payments that must be submitted before this inspection can take place and the homeowner has been notified of this issue.
Mayor O’Leary asked if it was the Adams residence at 369 Salem Church Road, and if a penalty had been assessed by the City on that property. He noted that he had received a phone call from Mr. Adams regarding a significant amount being billed to them for the project. The Mayor advised the property owner that it was his understanding the fees were related to grading issues and the fees were based on staff time to conduct inspections and review time.
Engineer Sandberg stated that it was the Adams residence and explained that the charges sent on the billing statement are related to staff reviews and inspections of the property during the construction, not penalty fees. Engineer Sandberg advised that he met with the landscaper on the project this week to discuss the fees listed and he indicated that this information was not communicated to the homeowner. Engineer Sandberg noted that the homeowner had requested a meeting with the Mayor and he would attempt to set up a meeting time.
Councilmember Bulach pointed out that he had done work on the 300 Salem Church Road project and asked if staff had provided a “breakdown” of the costs on the billing statement. He advised the homeowner that they should receive an itemized statement and commented that he had not seen an itemized listing of the costs.
Planner Johnson stated that the property owners were sent a copy of the itemized statement and she offered to forward a copy to Councilmember Bulach.
Councilmember Bulach stated he wished to get this matter resolved for the City and the property owners.
Engineer Sandberg explained that on those two properties (369 Salem Church Road and 300 Salem Church Road), the additional costs charged were related to the fact that the NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) permit was required for the work done on each of those properties, however, the contractors did not secure those permits and staff spent additional time on inspections and compliance.
Councilmember Bulach asked the Engineer to explain the NPDES permit.
Engineer Sandberg explained that when more than 1-acre of soils are disturbed this triggers the need for a State National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from the MPCA, which requires additional reviews and inspections by staff. He noted that the City must adhere to the regulations of the NPDES permit to stay in compliance during building and construction and that failure to stay compliant could result in substantial fines to the City.
Mayor O’Leary stated that this was his belief and he relayed that information to the property owner. He asked the City Engineer if the additional costs may have been due to errors by the landscaper for the project. Mayor O’Leary stated he would be pleased to meet with the property owners. Engineer Sandberg agreed that the landscape architect should have been aware of these issues and permits required for his work.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any further questions and there was no response.
Council thanked the Planner for her report.
7. ENGINEER’S REPORT: 1. Engineering Activities Undertaken in November: A. 2021 MS4 Permit: The MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) approved the City’s NPDES permit as an MS4 City. WSB will maintain and manage the permit to ensure that the City stays in compliance with permit requirements. As part of the requirements, a public notice was posted on the City website that outlines activities from 2020 and provides an opportunity for public input.
B. Meetings Attended: Staff attended the Dakota County regional Visioning Plan Update meeting.
2. Building and Site Reviews in the Month of November: A. Staff conducted reviews for the following properties in November: 369 Salem Church Road: The as-built survey is completed and staff performed a final visit for the Certificate of Occupancy process. Modifications of the stormwater pond are being made prior to issuance of the final Certificate of Occupancy.
3. Public Works Activities Undertaken in the Month of November: None.
Engineer Sandberg stated that the contractor had been very good at follow-up on complaints and that he also does a follow-up when a complaint is received.
Council thanked the Engineer for his report.
8. NEW/OTHER BUSINESS: a. Consider the following resolutions: 1. Resolution Adopting the General Fund Operating Budget for 2022; and, 2. Resolution Adopting the Tax Levy for Collection in the Year 2022; Council was referred to the City Attorney’s report dated December 1, 2021, recommending that Council take formal action on the resolutions adopting the 2022 General Fund Operating Budget and the 2022 Tax Levy. After adoption of the Tax Levy, the City Treasurer is required to forward the resolution to Dakota County.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any questions and there was no response.
Mayor O’Leary moved to Adopt Resolution No. 21-52 titled, resolution adopting the general fund operating budget for the city of sunfish lake for the year 2022, seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (4-0)
Councilmember Hovey moved to adopt Resolution No. 21-53 titled, resolution levying and adopting the tax levy for collection in the year 2022, seconded by Councilmember Hansen and carried. (4-0)
3. Resolution Setting Dates for the Regular City Council Meetings for 2022; Mayor O’Leary asked the City Clerk if the meeting dates had been reviewed to determine if any meetings needed to be changed.
Clerk Iago stated she had reviewed the dates with staff from the City Attorney’s office and the February 1st meeting had been changed to February 8 due to the precinct caucuses. She advised that Council should determine if the July 5 meeting should be changed due to the July 4th holiday.
After a brief discussion, Council concurred to change the July 4 meeting to the following Tuesday, July 12, 2022.
Councilmember Hovey asked if the November meeting date should be changed due to the election and the Clerk explained that the election would be held on the second Tuesday in November so change would be required.
The Mayor asked if there were any further questions and there was no response.
Mayor O’Leary moved to adopt Resolution No. 21-54 titled, RESOLUTION SETTING THE DATES OF THE REGULAR CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS FOR THE YEAR 2022 with the July 4 meeting changed to July 12, 2022, seconded by Councilmember Hovey and carried. (4-0)
4. Resolution Setting Dates for the Planning Commission Meetings for 2022; Mayor O’Leary asked if the Planning Commission Chair had any conflicts with the dates listed for the 2022 Planning Commission meetings.
Planning Commission Chair Tom Hendrickson stated he had no conflicts with the dates at this time.
Mayor O’Leary moved to adopt Resolution No. 21-55 titled, RESOLUTION SETTING THE DATES FOR THE REGULAR PLANNING COMMISSION MEETINGS FOR THE YEAR 2022, seconded by Councilmember Hovey and carried. (4-0)
5. Resolution Setting Dates for 2022 Planning & Land Use Application Deadlines: Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any changes to the Planning and Land Use Application Deadlines and there was no response.
Councilmember Hansen moved to adopt Resolution No. 21-56 titled, RESOLUTION SETTING THE DATES FOR PLANNING AND LAND USE APPLICATION DEADLINES FOR THE YEAR 2022, seconded by Mayor O’Leary and carried. (4-0)
Clerk Iago explained that Council was supposed to refer the resolution setting the dates for the regular planning commission meeting to the Planning Commission for their review and adoption at their first meeting. She explained that the previous motion should be amended to state:
“Mayor O’Leary moved to refer a resolution setting the dates for the regular Planning Commission meetings for the year 2022 to the Planning Commission for action at their first meeting in 2022, seconded by Councilmember Hovey and carried. (4-0)”
Mayor O’Leary as maker of the motion and Councilmember Hovey as second agreed to the amendment and Council unanimously passed the motion as amended. (4-0)
Clerk Iago noted that the minutes would reflect the voiding of Resolution No. 21-55 for future reference.
b. Consider Resolution Designating the Polling Place for 2022 Elections in the City of Sunfish Lake: Clerk Iago advised that the City must designate the polling location for 2022 by December 31, 2021.
Mayor O’Leary moved to adopt Resolution No. 21-57 titled, RESOLUTION DESIGNATING THE POLLING PLACE FOR THE 2022 ELECTIONS IN THE CITY OF SUNFISH LAKE, seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (4-0)
c. Consider Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) With Five (5) Cities for Recycling Coordinator Services: Clerk Iago explained that the City annually approves the Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) with five (5) cities for the Recycling Coordinator Services and that the 2022 agreement is basically the same as in previous years. She noted that the only change relates to the amount of funding received from Dakota County. She advised that the City of West St. Paul is responsible for receiving and distributing the grant funds for all of the five cities.
Attorney Kuntz stated that the agreement is basically the same as previous years with updated funding amounts.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any questions and there was no response.
Councilmember Hansen moved to approve the Community Waste Abatement 2022 Grant Agreement between Dakota County and the City of West St. Paul acting as the fiscal agent for the cities of South St. Paul, Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake, and Lilydale, seconded by Mayor O’Leary and carried. (4-0)
d. Consider Prosecution Contract from LeVander, Gillien & Miller P.A. for City of Sunfish Lake: Attorney Kuntz referred to his report dated December 1, 2021 and explained that his law firm would be withdrawing from acting as the criminal prosecutor for the City of Sunfish Lake. He stated that his firm is also withdrawing from providing these services to the City of West St. Paul. He advised that past practice had been that the prosecutor for both cities would be the same in order to provide continuity with having one Police Department and one prosecutor. He noted that West St. Paul had selected the law firm of Kelly & Lemmons, P.A. to provide criminal legal services to their City effective December 3, 2021.
Attorney Kuntz suggested that Sunfish Lake select the law firm of Kelly & Lemmons, P.A. to serve as the law firm to provide criminal prosecution legal services to the City of Sunfish Lake, effective December 7, 2021. He recommended that Council adopt the proposed resolution approving a prosecution legal services agreement for a 5-year contract with the firm of Kelly & Lemmons, P.A.
Attorney Kuntz further explained that Rebecca Duren would be the principal attorney and would be assisted by Kevin Beck and Joseph Kelly. He stated the City would be billed at the hourly rate of $120 for attorneys and $90 for law clerks and paralegals. He noted that those rates do not include some other expenses as outlined in his report.
The City Attorney explained that his law firm had made a decision to expand its commitment to provide civil legal services and that he anticipates an orderly transition would occur. He noted that West St. Paul had vetted law firms and had chosen Kelly & Lemmons, P.A. to represent them.
Attorney Kuntz introduced Rebecca Duren who was present this evening to respond to questions.
Mayor O’Leary explained that he was contacted by Attorney Kuntz regarding this matter and he stated that one of his best friends is a senior partner with this law firm. He advised that it was his opinion this firm would do a great job and that he would support this transition.
Rebecca Duren explained that she has 22 years’ experience as an attorney and 10 years’ experience in criminal law. She advised that she would be the primary prosecuting attorney representing the City and that there were three (3) other attorneys who would also serve in this capacity. She stated she looked forward to working with the City of Sunfish Lake.
Attorney Kuntz thanked the Council for the long running opportunity to provide prosecution services to the city.
Mayor O’Leary thanked Attorney Kuntz and his firm for the many years they had served in this capacity. He asked if there were any questions and there was no response.
Mayor O’Leary moved to adopt Resolution No. 21-58 titled, RESOLUTION APPROVING A PROSECUTION LEGAL SERVICES AGREEMENT FOR THE CITY OF SUNFISH LAKE to retain Kelly & Lemmons, P.A. to perform criminal prosecution services on behalf of the City, seconded by Councilmember Hansen and carried. (4-0)
e. Other/New Business: Mayor O’Leary stated that he wished to thank his colleagues on Council for their dedication and willingness to serve and adjust to the trials of operating during the pandemic. He commented that he was truly thankful for their service and that it was a pleasure working with everyone this past year. On behalf of Council, he also thanked staff for their work this past year. He pointed out that staff has shown a personal investment in the community which goes well beyond the scope of their job. He offered everyone best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season.
Councilmember Bulach, on behalf of Council, thanked the Mayor for his dedication and service to the City and for being a great leader. He asked how long Council would continue to conduct their meetings via Zoom rather than in person.
Mayor O’Leary suggested that the Council meetings continue on Zoom until next year and suggested that Council review the pandemic situation at the January meeting. He asked if there was any further business and there was no response.
9. ADJOURN: Mayor O’Leary moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:55 p.m.
Catherine Iago, City Clerk Dan O’Leary, Mayor