August 11, 2011 at 8:30 a.m.

Jensen appointed to Center City council vacancy, council reviews costs for CR 9 and dispatch center

Jensen appointed to Center City council vacancy, council reviews costs for CR 9 and dispatch center
Jensen appointed to Center City council vacancy, council reviews costs for CR 9 and dispatch center

Center City's August meeting was called to order by Mayor Jill Behnke August 2 at 7 p.m. Will Pennings resigned last month, so the council was down one member. The council appointed Kristopher Jensen to the Pennings seat at the end of the meeting.

The council acted on several items tabled from last month's meeting pending additional information and document drafting by the city attorney.

City Attorney Peter Grundhoefer presented the final draft of the agreement between property owners and the city regarding maintenance of five rain gardens being installed as part of the CSAH9 Improvement Project. The agreement was approved 2-1 by Mayor Behnke and Madonna Higgins voting "yes." Mark Wolcott voted "no." Lloyd Vetter, arriving at 7:15, missed the first vote of the meeting.

Another vote on that issue followed a presentation by Casey Thiel, Chisago County Soil and Water Conservation District Water Resource Specialist. Thiel distributed plans for the five gardens that are intended to collect the runoff from the first half inch of rainfall on CSAH9 impervious surface. Contaminants settle out of the runoff water in ponds rather than running directly into lakes and streams. The gardens will be on one parcel of city property, one residential parcel and three business parcels; Central Bank, Swedish Village Mall and Printing Express. The agreement that the council approved before Thiele's presentation runs for 10 years and places responsibility for maintaining the gardens on the parcel owners. The council will revisit the contract in 2021.

Lakes Improvement District money is covering 25 percent of the installation cost of the gardens and the SWCD will pay the remainder. "It is simpler and cleaner to have one contract with the construction company that installs the gardens," Thiel explained. She asked the council to authorize a signature to accept the contract when bids were to be opened August 5. After the project is completed, the city will pay the contractor, then the LID and the SWCD will repay the city.

Concerned about cash-flow, Council member Wolcott inquired about the time frame for the reimbursement to the city for the $30,000 to $40,000 project. Thiel responded that the payment to the city will be prompt because the SWCD board meets monthly.

Wolcott seconded Vetter's motion for authorization to sign for the rain garden construction contract and the motion passed unanimously.

George McMahon, Chisago County commissioner, and Chris Eng, Executive Director of the Chisago County HRA-EDA, were present to answer questions about the tax abatement agreement between Center City, Chisago County and Smith Metal Products. The final figure for Center City's portion of the abatement is less than originally proposed by the county at last month's meeting. Under the tax abatement agreement draft that the council unanimously approved, Center City will abate $12,000 of SMP's taxes annually, up to 10 years, as long as all terms are met. Highlights of the county and city's requirements in this contract are that the company will conduct operations on the site as described in the agreement for at least 10 years. The agreement also addresses details for full reimbursement plus interest to the county and city for the subsidy if SMP does not meet the requirements. SMP is required to maintain 18 current full-time employees at an average hourly rate of $21.31, with benefits, and create eight additional full time positions at an average hourly wage of $16.50, with benefits.

The next step is for the council to approve the site development agreement. The council scheduled a special meeting at 6 p.m. August 17 at Chisago Lake Lutheran Church to discuss and take action on the agreement.

John Anderson, the Municipal Development Group consultant who has worked with Center City for the past two years under the Community Growth Options Grant, reviewed the Planning Commission's recommended rezoning of select parcels. Most of the changes are merely name changes, and the changes conform the city zoning map to the city's recently adopted zoning ordinance. The council unanimously approved the zoning changes and MDG will provide the new zoning map to the city. This is the final of several projects MDG completed under the grant. Anderson summarized the past two years of work and stated that he has enjoyed working with Center City and looks forward to working on other projects with Center City in the future.

The council also approved the city's annual law enforcement contract with the Chisago County Sheriff's Department to provide patrol and enforcement at $49.97 per hour. The Sheriff's Department provides approximately 20 hours of service per week from mid-May to mid- September and 10 hours weekly during the winter months. This is unchanged from the last several years.

For several months the council has been considering the clerk's request to share her job with former clerk Norma Anderson. Tuesday evening the council unanimously approved the position change to begin immediately and to be reviewed in October. Center City is the only city implementing a clerk sharing position, according to information provided by the League of Minnesota Cities. The council has approached this precedent cautiously, discussing various possible situations with the city attorney and candidates in detail. Tuesday evening, rather than delay action again by waiting for the Personnel Committee to submit a detailed job description with the action item, the council moved ahead and approved Madonna Higgins' motion that included wording that the position could be "tweaked" during the trial period. The Personnel Committee will meet at 8 a.m. August 12 to sort out the responsibilities of the participants and write the final job description to be presented for action at the September meeting. Trudeau will work 22-24 hours per week with Anderson picking up 12-14 hours. The total hours worked in the shared position will not exceed 36 hours. The pay rate is the same for both parties and the health care stipend and other benefits will be split fifty-fifty. Vacation will be accrued by hours worked. The clerks will overlap their hours two to three hours a week in order to "stay on the same page" with city business. Center City office hours are Monday and Tuesday 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. and Wednesday and Thursday 8 a.m. - 4:30. The office is closed noon to 1 and Fridays it is closed.

The clerk reported that Center City's has received notice that Local Government Aid for 2012 is $26,951. The council scheduled a session to plan the 2012 budget for 7 p.m., August 30, at city hall.

The final action item, addressed just before committee reports, was selecting a replacement for Will Pennings' council seat. Pennings resigned in July. Small cities often have difficulty obtaining a single application for a council seat, so the council members were thrilled to review the resumes of two applicants, Barbara J. Liberty and Kristopher Jensen. Jon Alvin also submitted a letter of interest. After answering a few questions from the applicants, such as clarifying that Center City council members do not represent districts, but serve the city at large, and that the term of the seat in question runs through 2012, Higgins' motion to appoint Kristopher Jensen to the seat was seconded and passed unanimously. Jensen took the oath of office from the city clerk, then sat at the council table for the remainder of the meeting. He volunteered to fill the vacancies on the Highway 8 Task Force, Safety and Grant Committees.

Upcoming Public Hearings:

• Summit Avenue Business District street lighting assessment is at 7 p.m., August 17 at Chisago Lake Lutheran Church

• Delinquent sewer and water billing will be reviewed at 7:15 p.m., September 6 at city hall.


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