- DRAFT –

 SUNFISH LAKE CITY COUNCIL MEETING – SEPTEMBER 6, 2022

7:00 P.M. – ONLINE MEETING

Attendants:


Acting Mayor:  Mike Hovey

Councilmembers:  Steven Bulach, Shari Hansen, and Ginny Beckett

City Attorney:  Tim Kuntz

City Planner: Lori Johnson

City Engineer:  Jeff Sandberg

City Treasurer:  Ann Lanoue

Building Inspector: Mike Andrejka
Police Chief:  Brian Sturgeon

City Clerk:  Cathy Iago

     and Members of the General Public.

Mayor Dan O’Leary and City Forester Jim Nayes were absent.

1.   CALL TO ORDER:  Acting Mayor Hovey called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.  

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

Councilmember Hansen moved to adopt the agenda as amended, seconded by Councilmember Beckett and carried. (4-0)

3.  CONSENT AGENDA:  Acting Mayor Hovey asked if there were any questions or comments relating to any items on the Consent Agenda.

Police Chief Sturgeon advised that there were several trees damaged during the recent storm event and that the City Forester had removed a tree that was blocking traffic on Salem Church Road. He further noted that there were no False Alarms this month.

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

Councilmember Bulach moved approval of the Consent Agenda as presented, seconded by Councilmember Hansen and carried. (4-0)

a.   Special Budget Meeting and Regular Council Meeting Minutes of August 2, 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 Acting Mayor asked if there were any comments from the public and there was no response.

5.  PUBLIC HEARING/PRESENTATIONS:  None.


6.  PLANNER’S REPORT:  a. Planner’s Report:  Planner Johnson reviewed the following information listed in her report dated September 6, 2022. She advised that there was no Planning meeting in August and there would be no meeting scheduled in September due to lack of applications.  She reviewed her report as follows:

1.  300 Salem Church Road:  There is no news to report on the escrow payment for this property at this time. The outstanding amount is $2,709.35. 

Councilmember Bulach explained that he is scheduled to complete work on the project at this location.  He stated that Council directed him to discuss the matter with the property owners and attempt to get full payment of the escrow or to negotiate a settlement. He advised he would do so this month.

2.   Additional Escrows:  Additional escrows have now been collected for 100 Windy Hill Road and 15 Sunnyside Lane. There are still outstanding escrows for 1 Sunfish Lane.

3.  2184 Charlton Road:  The property owners and their architect have submitted a variance application to allow for a third garage stall to be added to their existing garage.  The lot and all buildings on the lot are nonconforming, however, the ordinance allows for an addition if the nonconforming structure is amened to increase the livability of the structure.  At this time, the application remains incomplete and is tentatively scheduled for the October Planning Commission meeting, pending receipt of necessary plans.

Councilmember Bulach explained that some neighbors had complained that the grass has not been cut and that the property looks unsightly. 

Planner Johnson asked if the complaints were for the Charlton Road property and Councilmember Bulach responded that the complaints related to the 11 Salem Lane property.

4.  11 Salem Lane:  A demo permit application was received for this location; however, the application remains incomplete pending receipt of additional information.  Planner Johnson noted that members of Council and the Planning Commission received complaints related to construction activity at this address as well as the appearance of the property.

The Planner stated that Chief Sturgeon conducted a site visit to investigate activity occurring on site.  Staff noted that the deconstruction was taking place on the interior of the existing home and the contractor was asked to stop all work on the site.  Staff reviewed all City ordinances and codes and found that a permit was not necessary for the interior work taking place, which related to removing items to be recycled rather than taken to a landfill.  A permit will be required to demolish the existing home and construct a new home on the site. 

Planner Johnson advised that the major concern of the complainants was that the company that would be doing this work employs formerly incarcerated individuals to do the work to teach necessary skills for reentering society.  She noted that because the work does not require a permit, the City has no authority to require information on contractors.  As a courtesy the contractor provided a list of items to be removed from the site and recycled.

Chief Sturgeon stated that the exterior of the site looks “shabby” and that the lawn had not been mowed for months.

Acting Mayor Hovey asked the City Attorney what could be done to remedy the situation.

Attorney Kuntz suggested that Council direct the Planner to contact the contractor and request that the property be mowed and cleaned up while they were working at the site. 

Council concurred to direct the Planner to advise the contractor on site that the property should be maintained while they were working at that location.

5.  15 Sunnyside Lane:  Site work was approved and a building permit was issued for this property. The approval did not include the stairs to the lake; however, work on the new home should begin shortly.  The stairs to the lake will require a separate review and a site inspection prior to any work beginning on that project.

Acting Mayor Hovey asked if the issue relating to the size of the dock and the potential need to request a permit from the DNR had been resolved.

Planner Johnson advised that the applicant had revised the plan for the dock and that the DNR permit was not required.

Council thanked the Planner for her report.

7.  ENGINEER’S REPORT:  City Engineer Sandberg referred to his report dated August 31, 2022 and reviewed the following items:        1. Engineering Activities Undertaken in August:     A. Adoption of Dakota County Regional Roadway System Visioning Study:  Engineer Sandberg stated that the Study was completed and that the County was now requesting the Cities of Eagan, Inver Grove Heights, Mendota Heights and Sunfish Lake to formally adopt the plan. He stated that Dakota County had prepared an update of the study that staff would review this evening.  He further noted that a sample resolution was sent to the City Clerk that outlined the City of Sunfish Lake’s support of the final study document and also lists comments/concerns that the City had voiced in the past relating to the plan.  He further stated that representatives from Kimberly Horn and Dakota County were present to respond to questions. 

The Engineer referred to the Final Recommendations which included roadway improvements in and near Sunfish Lake:

  1. CR 63(Argenta Trail) and I-494 Interchange: Recommended completing at some time in the future, but that additional studies should be done.
  2. TH62/CR63(Delaware Ave) Intersection: Recommended that additional studies in the future are needed.
  3. CR 63(Delaware Ave) Access at Delaware Ave and Salem Church Road: The County will conduct a traffic signal warrant study at this location in the future.
  4. Robert Street: Robert Street is under the jurisdiction of the State of Minnesota; however, Dakota County would conduct another study to review possible signalization on the roadway.
  5. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities planned in parallel with roadway improvements.
  6. These final recommendations do not preclude agencies from evaluating or implementing localized improvements where a need is identified.

Engineer Sandberg stated that the next step was to have the Cities adopt a resolution supporting the final plan this month and then the plan would be presented to the Dakota County Board for adoption.  He introduced Dakota County Transportation Director Erin Laberee and Dakota County Traffic Engineer Kristi Sebastian.

Acting Mayor Hovey asked the time-frame for Dakota County to conduct the study at the intersection of Salem Church Road and Delaware Avenue.

Kristi Sebastian stated that Dakota County will be conducting meetings with the Cities shortly to discuss the findings of the Delaware/Salem Church Road study with Engineer Sandberg within the next month.

Councilmember Hansen asked if there would be discussion regarding pedestrian and bike paths in Sunfish Lake.

Engineer Sandberg explained that the study encompasses a large area and that he was not aware of any proposed pedestrian pathways or bike paths in Sunfish Lake. He indicated that there may be bikeways when new sections of roadways are discussed.

Erin Laberee explained that the bike and pedestrian pathways would be placed along sidewalks, trails, or roadway shoulders.

Councilmember Beckett referred to page 3 of the study handout and the area identified as “most intense development” along I-494, South Robert Trail to Inver Grove Heights.  She explained that this area includes the lake area where she lives and she questioned what was proposed for that area.

Kristi Sebastian explained that the diagram was meant to show a high level of density as identified in the Inver Grove Heights 2040 Comprehensive Plan and this was merely documenting that information. She pointed out that Dakota County does not do land use planning or change cities land use.

Attorney Kuntz questioned what the proposed resolution supporting the study should include.

Engineer Sandberg explained that he requested a sample resolution from Dakota County and they sent a sample resolution earlier this evening.  He indicated that staff was still drafting the language and asked the City Clerk to read the sample resolution.

Clerk Iago read the sample resolution which included three (3) concerns relating to the plan that had been expressed by the City of Sunfish Lake on previous occasions.  

There was discussion regarding whether or not the resolution should be adopted this evening or if Dakota County could wait until October to receive the Sunfish Lake resolution. 

Kristi Sebastian stated that if Council agreed, she would advise the County Board that it is the intent of the City of Sunfish Lake to pass a resolution in support of the Final Plan, but that the City requested additional time to adopt the resolution.

Council concurred to direct Engineer Sebastian to advise the Dakota County Board that Sunfish Lake intends to support the Final Plan based on what was presented and that Council requested additional time to draft the resolution.

Clerk Iago stated she would send the draft resolution to Council for their review and comments and that staff would present the final draft of the document at the October Council meeting.

Council thanked Dakota County staff and Kimberly Horn staff for their attendance at the meeting.

B.  2022 Street Maintenance Projects:  The Engineer stated the work on City Project 2022-01 was completed and he requested the Final Payment in the amount of $124,934.93 be paid to the contractor to close out the project.  He explained that the original contract for the project was $132,229.39 and the amount for the final payment was less.

Engineer Sandberg advised there was an issue with the driveway at Councilmember Hansen’s home and that he asked the contractor to fix the problem caused near her driveway apron. He commented that this should not hold up the final payment.

Councilmember Bulach commented that the road looks awesome.

The Engineer agreed and noted that the City received a substantial amount of work for a cost-effective dollar amount.  He explained that there are no projects scheduled for next year due to the fact that several projects were incorporated into this year’s schedule.

Acting Mayor Hovey moved to authorize the Final Payment to Allied Blacktop in the amount of $124,934.93 and direct the City Engineer to request the contractor fix the problem on Councilmember Hansen’s driveway, seconded by Councilmember Bulach.

 

In discussion, Attorney Kuntz questioned if the check should be sent to the contractor if they refuse to fix the problem.

After a brief discussion, Council concurred that the check should not be delayed if they contractor does not agree to fix the driveway issue.

 

Motion carried. (4-0)

C.  No Solicitation Signage: Staff is waiting for the State Statute language prior to finalizing the signage.

2.  Building and Site reviews in the Month of August:   A. Staff conducted reviews for the following properties in August:

  • 343 Salem Church Road – Resident requested opinion for a fire marker signage.
  • 15 Sunnyside Lane – Reviewed erosion control prior to construction activities starting. The property had three (3) rows of silt fencing and staff was pleased with the level of protection.
  • 11 Salem Lane – Staff reviewed and commented on a demo permit for the property and worked with the builder on a material re-use plan for inside the home.
  • 100 Windy Hill Road – Staff inspected the erosion control materials prior to construction beginning related to an installation of artificial turf in the area where the previous home was located. There were three (3) rows of heavy-duty silt fencing installed and staff was pleased with the level of protection.

3.    Public Works Activities Undertaken in the Month of August:  A.  Staff coordinated the final work for the crack seal and chip seal work on the 2022 Street Maintenance Projects.

4.   Anticipated Engineering and Public Works Activities for October:   A. In September each year staff requests bids for snowplowing work for the upcoming year. The City entered into a three-year contract with the current snowplow contractor and this is the 3rd year of the contract. The cost annually is $39,000 and includes street sweeping in the spring at no extra cost.

Acting Mayor Hovey asked if the contractor would be spraying the streets with the pre-treatment materials prior to this year’s snow events.

Engineer Sandberg responded yes and stated that staff had not received any complaints last year regarding plowing.

Attorney Kuntz indicated that the 3-year contract began in 2020 and would be expiring next year.

Acting Mayor Hovey asked if staff would be presenting another three-year contract next year.

Engineer Sandberg stated he had not discussed this with the contractor however, he would strongly encourage the City to enter into another three-year contract with the same party.

B.  Staff will be replacing a missing street sign on Salem Church Lane.

Councilmember Hansen asked if the property at 11 Salem Lane would be recycling both the materials from the inside of the building and also the outside.

Engineer Sandberg stated that the demolition permit application submitted for the building stated they were not going to salvage any materials. The application was missing information and deemed incomplete.  One comment staff made was for the contractor to discuss salvage/ reuse of materials as part of the demolition – but the application was not approved.  Following resident complaints, the Police Chief Sturgeon was called to the site because residents saw activity and what appeared to be demolition that had started.  Upon discussion with the City Engineer, Chief Sturgeon stopped the work.  The City Engineer was then in contact with the builder, and was told that salvage of some interior materials was underway.  Staff requested a list of items to be recycled and salvaged which included interior items such as the kitchen cabinets, fixtures, and wood flooring. Engineer Sandberg stated that the interior deconstruction did not require a permit and the interior salvage was allowed to proceed.

Councilmember Hansen thanked the Engineer and noted that at least some materials would be recycled.

Council thanked the Engineer for his report.

8.  NEW/OTHER BUSINESS:  a. Consider Resolution Adopting the Proposed Budget & Setting the Not-to-Exceed Tax Levy for Collection in Year 2023 and Schedule Special Truth in Taxation Meeting on December 6, 2022 at 7:00 p.m.:  Attorney Kuntz explained that Council annually conducts a special meeting to discuss the next year’s budget and prepares to adopt a preliminary tax levy and budget for the upcoming year at their regular meeting in September.  He stated that Council also schedules a public hearing at their December meeting at which time they receive input from the public and then adopts the final tax levy and budget for the next year.    He explained that once Council adopts the preliminary budget, they still have the opportunity to reduce the amount budgeted or tax levy at the December meeting, however, they cannot increase the amount budgeted. 

Treasurer Lanoue referred to her email that outlined the three (3) Tax Levy Scenarios she prepared which she identified as follows:

  1. Balanced Budget – This amount was based on staff requests and discussion held at the August 2, 2022 budget study meeting;
  2. Tax Levy Dollar Amounts Same or greater than 2022; and,
  3. Tax Levy Rate Unchanged from 2022

Treasurer Lanoue advised that if the Tax Levy amount remained the same as last year the budget would be short by approximately $30,000.  She noted that there was a substantial increase in property valuations and a 17% increase in tax capacity which made this a complex budget year.

The Treasurer showed five (5) properties in the City with different valuations and how each would be impacted by the three (3) different scenarios.  She noted that the two options with the least negative impact would be to either adopt the Balanced Budget in the amount of $736,898 or with the Tax Levy Dollars Unchanged in the amount of $766,541.

Staff recommends that Council adopt the budget with the Tax Levy unchanged in the amount of $766,541. She explained this would be an increase of $29,643 over this year’s budget.

Attorney Kuntz asked if the proposed amount of $766,541 includes all items discussed at the budget study meeting and the Treasurer responded yes.

There was discussion relating to the amount of funds the City keeps in reserves and how the money in reserves may be spent. Council also discussed placing $106,000 into reserve funds to cover the escrow deficits.

Treasurer Lanoue explained that any funds that are not spent during the year are placed in the City reserve funds.

Councilmember Hansen asked how much had been placed in reserves in previous years.

Treasurer Lanoue stated that the City does not budget for funds to be placed in reserves and that the issue of the escrow deficit had not been discussed in the past.

Acting Mayor Hovey explained that staff would be reviewing the escrow deficit in October to determine the actual amount.  He advised that once the actual amount is determined, Council would have the option to reduce the tax levy or budget amounts at their December meeting, but they could not increase the amounts if necessary. 


Treasurer Lanoue agreed and commented that it had been past practice to increase the budget in small increments annually to maintain consistency.

Attorney Kuntz explained that he had initially suggested placing $18,000 in the budget to conduct an audit of the City financials and that he had suggested to the Mayor that another $3,000 be added to cover the cost of reviewing the escrow documentation.  He advised that he received a quote of $17,850 for the initial audit which did not include reviewing the escrow accounts.  He recommended that the amount of $21,000 be included for the proposed audit.

Treasurer Lanoue advised that would decrease the reserve funds from $106,000 to $103,000.

Acting Mayor Hovey asked if Council had any objections to increasing the audit amount from $18,000 to $21,000 and decreasing the reserve amount from $106,000 to $103,000.

Council concurred to increase the amount for the audit to $21,000 and decrease the reserve funds to $103,000.

 

Attorney Kuntz and Treasurer Lanoue presented the following amounts to be included on the proposed resolution:

Not-to-Exceed General Property Tax Levy                                     $622,885

Not-to-Exceed Improvement Bond Debt Retirement                   $143,656

Final Net Not-to-Exceed Levy                                                           $766,541

Treasurer Lanoue stated that this would be a 4% increase over the 2022 budget.

There was a brief discussion regarding whether or not to add additional monies to the proposed budget and Council agreed it would be appropriate to wait until staff reviewed and determined the amount of the escrow deficit.

 

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

 

Councilmember Bulach moved to adopt Resolution No. 22-14 titled, RESOLUTION SETTING NOT-TO-EXCEED

TAX LEVY FOR COLLECTION IN THE YEAR 2023, and scheduling a City Council meeting on December 6, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. to discuss and vote on the budget and property taxes for the year 2023, seconded by Councilmember Hansen and carried. (4-0)

b. Consider Not to Waive Liability Limits and Accept Coverage of $1,500,000 with League of Minnesota Cities:  Treasurer Lanoue explained that the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) annually requests that the City determine if they wish to waive the liability limits and accept coverage of $1,500,000 and the City has consistently responded that they do not wish to waive the limits. She stated that by not waiving the limits, the City avails itself of the protection provided.

Acting Mayor Hovey asked if there were any questions and there was no response.

Acting Mayor Hovey moved to notify the LMCIT that the City of Sunfish Lake does not wish to waive the liability limits and accepts the coverage of $1,500,000 provided, seconded by Councilmember Beckett and carried. (4-0)

c. Consider Increase in Election Judge Reimbursement:  Clerk Iago referred to her memorandum dated August 31, 2022 and explained that the salary for election judges had not been increased since 2016. She noted that most larger cities pay their judges between $12 to $17 per hour, however small cities tend to pay a bit less.  She advised that the current salary for Regular election judges is $7.50 per hour and Chair judges is $8.50 per hour.  She requested that the salary for Regular judges be increased to $10 per hour and for Chair judges be increased to $12 per hour.  She further requested that the increase be retroactive for payment on the August 9 Primary election.

Acting Mayor Hovey asked if there were any questions and there was no response.

Acting Mayor Hovey moved to approve the salary increase for Regular Election Judges from $7.75 per hour to $10 per hour and for Chair Judges from $8.50 per hour to $12 per hour and that the approval be retroactive to the August 9, 2022 Primary Election, seconded by Councilmember Hansen and carried. (4-0)

d. Other:  Acting Mayor Hovey asked if there was any further business and there was no response.


9.  ADJOURN:   Acting Mayor Hovey adjourned the meeting at 8:30 p.m.


____________________________                                 ________________________________

Catherine Iago, City Clerk                                                  Mike Hovey, Acting 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.