- DRAFT -
SUNFISH LAKE SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING – DECEMBER 3, 2019
5:00 P.M. - ST. ANNE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Councilmembers: Mike Hovey JoAnne Wahlstrom, Steve Bulach, and Shari Hansen
City Attorney: Tim Kuntz
City Building Official: Mike Andrejka
City Engineer: Jeff Sandberg
City Forester: Jim Nayes
City Treasurer: Ann Lanoue
City Clerk: Cathy Iago
Mayor Dan O’Leary arrived at 5:05 p.m. and Planner Ryan Grittman was not in attendance.
1. CALL TO ORDER: Acting Mayor Hovey called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m.
2. CONSULTANT REVIEWS: Acting Mayor Hovey explained the purpose of the special meeting was to conduct reviews for the consultants. He explained that each consultant would review their work plan for the past year and discuss any upcoming issues or concerns they foresee for the upcoming year.
Mayor O’Leary arrived at 5:05 p.m.
CITY CLERK/ADMINISTRATOR: Clerk Iago reviewed her review questions dated December 3, 2019 and explained that in May of 2020 she will have completed 50 years of government service. She noted that her strength is that she brings a wealth of experience to her position as City Clerk. She advised that she continues to work with the Mayor, Councilmember Hansen, and the Recycling Coordinator to compile and distribute the City Newsletter. She stated she continues to work on the records consolidation and purge at the City of Lilydale, where the City records are stored. She noted that the goal is to complete the records purge to get these materials ready for scanning to archive the records, however, it may take time to accomplish this goal.
The Clerk stated she continues to respond to resident inquiries and direct the calls to the appropriate staff if she is unable to respond to the question. She further advised that she continues to maintain an excellent working relationship with City Council and staff.
Clerk Iago explained that her area of improvement would relate to the records purge and preparing the documents for scanning and archiving. She noted that due to the busy year it was difficult to make time for this project.
The Clerk stated that the biggest challenge in 2020 would be to prepare and conduct three (3) elections; the Presidential Nomination Primary in March, the Primary election in August and the General Election in November.
Clerk Iago stated that she would continue to seek information from other government entities on issues that may impact Sunfish Lake and also to utilize available resources such as the League of Minnesota Cities and the Minnesota Municipal Clerk Association to research legislative updates, find available grants and to keep informed on issues that could impact Sunfish Lake.
Mayor O’Leary stated that the City was fortunate to have the Clerk’s expertise and that he was extremely pleased with her performance. Council agreed that the City Clerk/Administrator had done an excellent job during the year and thanked her for her service to the City.
BUILDING OFFICIAL: Inspector Andrejka explained that he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the City and that he is accessible for inspections or questions seven (7) days per week. He stated his strengths are his timely response to resident inquiries, prompt issuance of building permits and scheduling inspections.
The Building Inspector explained that the area of improvement would relate to staff communication regarding new construction. He advised that communication had improved this year and that he had discussed with the Planner the need to make sure information relating to applications approved by Council is communicated to staff promptly to ensure projects are done correctly.
Councilmember Hansen asked if the Inspector works with the contractor once an application was approved.
Inspector Andrejka explained that he does work with the contractor on site, however, he needs to have the approved set of plans for the home construction to ensure that he has the correct version prior to issuing the building permit. He pointed out that any changes to the plan or the site should be sent to him by the Planner prior to his issuing a building permit. He noted that communication between him and the Planner and Engineer had been better this year.
Councilmember Hansen asked if he also worked with the demolition company when issuing a demolition permit.
Inspector Andrejka responded yes and pointed out that the City does not have an established demolition process.
Councilmember Hansen asked if other cities have regulations relating to the recycling of demolition materials.
Inspector Andrejka stated that he was not aware of any cities that had regulations, however, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) requires the contractor to fill out forms identifying the materials removed. He noted that the Planner is responsible to inspect the site as he is not qualified to do so; he advised that he would have to be trained to do the site inspection.
Councilmember Wahlstrom asked if the training would be lengthy and the Inspector responded that he was unsure, however, it may be only one day.
Mayor O’Leary asked if the Inspector had any contacts such as a Building Inspector’s group that he could ask for information. He noted that Councilmember Hansen had asked for a Demolition Ordinance with regulations for recycling materials, however, he wished to know what the economic impact would be for residents and the City.
The Inspector suggested that the City Engineer may be more qualified to respond to the issue. He commented that he recalled the City of Minneapolis having some regulations on recycling demolition materials and he offered to research the matter.
Council thanked the Inspector for his service to the City.
CITY FORESTER: Forester Nayes stated that his strengths relate to the fact that he is knowledgeable of all public and private land within the City, he has expertise on trees and plants, and that he has been able to mediate with residents regarding what should be planted on their properties. He noted that this year there were no “emergency” situations relating to fallen trees within the City.
The Forester expressed his pleasure that his idea to form the “Welcome Committee” had been such a success and noted that the group works very well together and has had several great ideas. He thanked Councilmember Hansen for overseeing the “Welcome Committee” and noted that she was doing an excellent job.
Forester Nayes recommended that it may be beneficial to ask citizens to re-instate the removal of invasive species in Musser Park, such as the “Buckthorn Bust” to remove Buckthorn, which was held a few years ago. He noted that if the residents form a group such as “Friends of Musser Park”, it would ensure that the removal of invasive species continues into the future. He noted that removal of Buckthorn may also help to reduce the deer population.
Mayor O’Leary agreed and suggested that the City could assist by conducting a community bonfire near Halloween or the New Year, for residents to attend.
Councilmember Hansen suggested a family that lives across from Musser Park that might be interested and Councilmember Bulach also recommended a family that lives adjacent to the park.
The Forester stated that he needs volunteers to serve on the Tree Board and explained that the Board is one of the requirements to continue the “Tree City” designation. He recommended that the City and residents diversify the trees they plant on their property as he is doing on City Property. He suggested Oak and Yellowwood trees. He noted that he would continue to compose the “Treeways” information.
Councilmember Hansen asked how the “Tree City” designation is obtained for the City.
Forester Nayes explained that the City is required to have a “Tree Board”, to adopt ordinances relating to tree management and provides a small monetary incentive that is used for Arbor Day plantings. He noted that he uses the information he places in the Tree City application to review the work he had accomplished each year.
Mayor O’Leary explained there were negative comments placed on Facebook regarding the poor road conditions after the recent snowfall. He advised that the comments related to the icy road conditions on Salem Church Road. He pointed out that the heavily shaded roads without sunlight would retain the ice and asked the Forester if substantially trimming the trees would improve the road conditions and how that would impact the properties.
Forester Nayes explained that trimming on the north side of the road makes no sense because the sun would not shine on that side of the road. He pointed out that the trees are too large to remove anything but the understory and that the homes adjacent to the road would lose privacy and be impacted by lights from vehicles. He advised that he used to suggest cutting back plantings 5 feet from the roadway, however, now he recommends 15 ft. clearance. He stated that unless the area adjacent to the road is “clear cut” it would not have any impact on the road condition.
Council thanked the Forester for a job well done.
CITY ATTORNEY: Attorney Kuntz discussed the following items:
- Road Projects – He noted this year was busy due to the Charlton Road project. He complimented Council on creating a conversation with residents to resolve the issues relating to the project and that it was his opinion the project was well received because the City created a partnership with the residents.
- Dispute Negotiations – He explained that Council took the steps necessary and made a positive effort to assist neighbors to reach a mutually beneficial agreement to resolve their disputes.
- Creating/Sharpening Communication Tools – He stated that the Council decision to update the City website and utilize the “Welcome Committee” to provide information to residents was an effective tool and provided transparency on matters that may impact the community.
Councilmember Hovey asked if there were any challenges the Attorney could identify for 2020, such as road projects.
Attorney Kuntz explained that road maintenance is an on-going task and that the CIP is a useful tool to ensure the roads remain in good condition. He stated that staff and Council continue to participate and monitor the Highway 3 Study group so that the City is aware of any changes that would impact Sunfish Lake. He pointed out that the City should continue to educate the public on the importance of road maintenance.
There was discussion regarding the creation of an employment committee to assist with hiring a new person to fulfill the Planner’s position. The Mayor asked if Council could meet privately to discuss this matter.
Attorney Kuntz explained that a sub-committee could be appointed and could conduct their discussion in private, however, the information becomes public at the point when recommendation is made to Council to hire for the position.
The Mayor asked if Council would have to vote on a new fee schedule for the position.
Attorney Kuntz explained that the consultants, such as the Planner and City Engineer, submit their fee schedule for the year close to budget discussions and normally no action is required. He noted that Council could approve the fee schedule if they wish. He noted that there are different fees that relate to the applicant’s experience and also different rates for tasks performed. He advised that some of the duties are related to a project and those fees may be covered by escrow and that there may be different fees for attendance at meetings or for improvement projects.
Councilmember Bulach asked if the Attorney had any plans for retirement and, if so, would there be someone in his firm that would be able to take over the position.
Attorney Kuntz explained that his firm has worked for the City for 32 years and that his firm represents 12 or 13 communities and that there would be experienced personnel to take over his position; he advised he does not plan to retire for another 4 or 5 years and he would be willing to work through a six month transitionary period. He thanked Council for the privilege of working for Sunfish Lake.
Council thanked the Attorney for a great job and providing excellent information.
RECESS: Mayor O’Leary called for a brief recess for dinner at 6:00p.m. Council reconvened at 6:15 p.m.
CITY TREASURER: Treasurer Lanoue stated that she had worked in government financing since 1984 and that she brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to her position as City Treasurer. She stated that she would strive to improve on the organization and purging of City files. She indicated that the challenge facing the City in the next year would be financing road projects and that it would be wise for Council to hold over the Mill & Overlay project for an additional year. She noted that she had worked with Ehlers & Associates and had created a template for the bond issue that could be used on future projects.
Mayor O’Leary asked if the $138,000 that was originally designated for the project could be held over until 2021 and the Treasurer responded yes.
Treasurer Lanoue explained that she continues to monitor the City budgets, and continues working with Ehlers & Associates and staff to ensure the City is financially secure. She pointed out that she had checked properties within the City and found that the tax rate had not increased. She thanked Council for their support and stated she enjoys working with Council and staff.
Council concurred that the Treasurer was doing an excellent job.
CITY PLANNER: Mayor O’Leary stated that he advised the Planner it was not necessary to attend the review.
CITY ENGINEER: Engineer Sandberg explained that his strengths are substantial experience with all aspects of engineering, his extensive experience in governmental operations, and excellent people skills. He explained that he has a good working relationship with staff, Council and residents and that it is his opinion the Charlton Road project was well managed and kept on budget; he noted there was only one change order and that most residents’ comments were positive.
The Engineer apologized for the mistake made on the cost estimate for the Mill & Overlay project and stated that company-wide changes were made at his firm to ensure this does not happen in the future. He briefly reviewed the process and cross-checking procedures that were instituted by WSB and would be used by all departments in order to have no mistakes in the future. He commented that Sunfish Lake is a unique community with its lot sizes and density and that he would work very closely with staff on any future projects in order to determine if there are unique situations related to the assessments.
The Engineer stated he would continue to work with MnDOT, Dakota County and neighboring cities in the upcoming year.
Mayor O’Leary questioned why the budget amount for Engineering services increased from $31,000 to $44,000 in the 2020 budget.
Engineer Sandberg stated that he was not aware of the increase and that he would review the information he submitted with the City Treasurer during the regular Council meeting.
Council thanked the Engineer for his report and service throughout the year.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any further comments and there was no response.
3. ADJOURN: Mayor O’Leary called for adjournment at 6:58 p.m.
Catherine Iago, City Clerk Dan O’Leary, Mayor