City of Bigfork

City Council Regular Meeting January 12, 2010 6:00 p.m. City Council Chambers

Members Present: Mayor Roger Logdahl, Linda Koppelmann, Amy Pifher and Bob Zimmer

Members Absent: Mike Stevens

Also Present: Streets Commissioner Gene Rajala, Warren Welch, County Sheriff Pat Medure, Gene Collins, Water and Sewer Commissioner Jim Manske, Carol Pifher, City Engineer Mathew Pellinen, Al LaTrace, Julie Aakhus, Public Works Superintendent Chuck Almhjeld, Dianne Bakke, Mike Bakke, Dan Heinecke, Howard McKinney, Ed Yarbrough, Terry Yarbrough, City Attorney John Licke, Airport Commissioner Richard Salmi, Police Chief Jon Babcock and City Clerk/Treasurer Michael McKinney

Mayor Logdahl called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.

Public Forum:

Gene Rajala outlined the Police Department budget. He expressed concern over how little the City seems to receive relative to what they spend for police services. He also felt that the City could do just as well without a Police Department. He also discussed the Public Works Department. He felt that the Casual Maintenance Laborer is working much more than necessary and that he should only be there as needed. He also felt that the current method of reimbursement for on-call hours for Public Works employees was inappropriate and believed that they should function under a call-out policy instead.

Howard McKinney questioned why there was not more interaction between citizens and the Council during the Public Forum.

Carol Pifher expressed concern that the political climate in the City is pulling the City apart and needs to end. She also felt that the School Liaison Officer position was good for the City and should be maintained.

Mike Bakke noted that property taxes are going up far too much and will have a detrimental impact on businesses in the City. He also felt that spending must be controlled at a local level.

As no other individuals wished to address the Council, Logdahl closed the public forum at 6:20 p.m.

Agenda

City Clerk/Treasurer McKinney noted that he wished to include several items on the agenda regarding Bigfork’s wastewater mutual aid contract with Effie and the City’s annual Worker’s Compensation policy renewal.

Pifher asked to add an item to the agenda regarding the Police Department and requested that the issue be addressed following the Commissioner’s Reports.

Motion by Zimmer, second by Pifher, to approve the updated agenda as amended, motion carried unanimously (MCU).

Consent Agenda

Motion by Zimmer to approve the Consent Agenda as follows:

Item #1 approval of the minutes of the December 8, 2009 regular City Council meeting and the December 17, 2009 emergency City Council meeting Item #2 approval of the City Clerk’s Office Report for December 2009 Item #3 approval of the Financial Report for December 2009 Item #4 approval of the Public Works Department Report for December 2009 Item #5 approval of Claims Paid in the amount of $28,499.93 including the December 15th and 31st net payrolls and annual net payroll and to approve the Claims for Payment in the amount of $83,836.53.

Motion seconded by Koppelmann, MCU.

Commissioner’s Reports:

Streets Commissioner Gene Rajala provided his report. He noted that Joe and Chris did a good job removing snow during the recent snow events. He also felt that the Casual Maintenance Laborer needs more training on the snow removal equipment. He also noted that City employees should also be more careful in how they use City equipment.

Airport Commissioner Richard Salmi provided his report. He noted that the light on the pilot building has been repaired. He also noted that the lights on the runway have not been plowed and that there are mounds of snow at the ends of the runway that should be removed. He noted that the runway also needs to be plowed again due to blowing snow. He also stated that the only parts of the airport that were plowed were the runway and the parking lot. He also informed the Council that both Tom Anzelc and Tom Saxhaug are planning to attend the Airport grand opening in June.

Water and Sewer Commissioner James Manske provided his report. He noted that the mixing chamber is in transit and should arrive soon. Logdahl stated that snow must be removed from around the fire hydrants and that the City should place a barricade around hydrants near snowmobile trails.

Police Commissioner Mike Bakke provided his report. He noted that he has gotten a lot of feedback regarding the Police Department. He noted that most people he had spoken to felt that the City should have a part-time police officer. He felt that police personnel should be congenial, visible and proactive in law enforcement. He also felt that the City could not do without a police department. He noted that the Council needs to make some hard choices and also felt that the City should hold employees accountable for their actions.

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Amy Pifher did not provide a report.

Police Department Comments

Pifher noted that the Police Chief has been out patrolling in the City.

Logdahl noted that the main issue is that of what the City needs in police services. He stated that he was open to recommendations and felt that the City did need law enforcement but only on a part-time basis.

County Sheriff Pat Medure stepped forward to address the Council. He noted that the item in the City’s budget for professional services comes from its participation in a countywide law enforcement records management system. He noted that if the City did not have law enforcement that it would be treated no differently than the rest of the County. He also noted that calls are prioritized based on how serious they are. He stressed that the Sheriff’s Department cannot serve a community as a local police force can, since there are so few deputies for such a large service area. He also noted that the cost of contracting with the Sheriff’s Department is $65.00 per hour. He stated that Cohasset and LaPrairie do contract with the Sheriff’s Department during the summer months during the weekends. He also noted that the Police Chief does participate in mutual aid with other law enforcement agencies. He stated that even if the City did contract with the Sheriff’s Department for a few hours a day, they would have access to a deputy except in case of emergencies.

Richard Salmi noted that other communities receive adequate police coverage from the Sheriff’s Department. He also felt that police officers should be proactive and should always be in uniform while on the job.

Howard McKinney felt that parking the squad on Main Avenue might be a good idea and felt that the School Liaison position is good for the school but not for the City.

Zimmer noted that the City should look at his prior budget recommendation of cutting a position in the Police Department and should negotiate an agreement with the Police Chief. Gene Rajala suggested that if the Police Department is cut to one position that it should be open to applications from everyone. Zimmer felt that if the staffing levels of the department change, the Police Chief should be given the right of first refusal since he is currently a City employee.

Engineering Updates

City Engineer Mathew Pellinen provided his report. Beyond his submitted report, he advised the Council to approve the pay request submitted by Casper Construction for work completed at the Airport.

Motion by Pifher, second by Zimmer, to approve the pay request to Casper Construction for $125,598.99, MCU.

Pellinen discussed the City’s five-year project schedule. He stressed that the City needed to decide whether they would move forward on the projects planned for 2010 at the Airport; if not he felt that the City should inform MN DOT that the work would be put on hold until 2011. Pellinen noted that funds for work at the Airport should be in place by July 1. He noted that he would be back in February to discuss this five-year plan with the Council. Pifher noted that it would be important to consider some projects on the five-year planning schedule soon, including work on Rajala Mill Road, Ash Street and Ottum Avenue; she also stressed the importance of the proposed expansion at the cemetery.

Motion by Pifher, second by Koppelmann, to move forward with the proposed 2010 Airport work, MCU.

Unfinished Business

Resolution 2010-01 Expenditure of Gambling Tax Fund Revenue

City Clerk/Treasurer McKinney noted that he reworded this resolution to allow for expenditure of these funds only if appropriate expenditures are identified and are permitted by Minnesota Statutes, Bigfork City Ordinances and the City Council.

Motion by Zimmer, second by Koppelmann, to approve Resolution 2010-01, MCU.

Budget Committee Appointment

Logdahl noted that Howard McKinney expressed interest in joining this Committee. Zimmer noted that the City should consider adding Public Works Superintendent Almhjeld to the Committee. Logdahl noted that the only City employee involvement with the budget should be to submit a budget for approval and monitor the budget over the course of the year. City Attorney Licke noted that the City can limit the involvement of department heads to an ex-officio status where the department heads participate in the budget process but do not vote on the budget.

No formal action was taken on this agenda item.

Airport Manager Appointment

Logdahl noted that Richard Salmi would like to be appointed to this position since he is currently the Airport Commissioner. Pifher felt that the City should consider offering the position to Hiram Gene Ward since he does a lot of work at the Airport. Logdahl noted that the City could have Salmi serve as a temporary Airport Manager until the Council appoints a permanent manager.

No formal action was taken on this agenda item.

New Business

Resolution 2010-02 Establishing 2010 Appointments

Pifher noted that she spoke with Dr. Scrivner, who did express interest in remaining on the Board of Health. She also questioned whether the Public Works Superintendent had any concerns over the Street and Water/Sewer Commissioner appointments.

Zimmer asked whether Lonnie Kacon would remain on the Planning & Zoning Commission.

Logdahl asked if Joey Jacobson was still interested in remaining on the Personnel Committee.

Gene Rajala noted that he would like to be considered for any open board appointments.

Logdahl asked whether Zimmer could be appointed as Acting Mayor in place of Stevens. He also noted that Howard McKinney expressed interest in becoming the Police Commissioner. Pifher asked whether there were any issues with the current Commissioner.

Zimmer noted that he only participated in one Highway 38 Leadership Board Committee and asked if it even existed yet.

Pifher noted that the City Clerk/Treasurer could be the primary appointee to the Northern Itasca Joint Powers Board and the Mayor could serve as the alternate to the Board. She also noted that the City no longer appointed members to the Bigfork Wilderness Celebration Committee.

No formal action was taken on this agenda item.

Resolution 2010-03 Establishing 2010 Wages & Salaries

City Clerk/Treasurer McKinney noted that these wages and salaries were based on existing budget and union contract data for 2010. Logdahl felt that the Council should hold off on this issue until the Police Department was addressed.

No formal action was taken on this agenda item.

Review of Annual Insurance Renewal Memo

Pifher noted that the City should consider adding insurance covering the Bigfork Wilderness Celebration Committee and Airport liabilities. Zimmer felt that in order to avoid legal action, the City should purchase Sewer Backup Coverage as well.

Zimmer noted that the City’s insurance coverage likely has a grace period covering non-renewal before the expiration date.

Motion by Koppelmann, second by Zimmer, to approve the City’s insurance policy as is for 2010 with the option to add additional coverage later, MCU.

Fee Collected from New Water and Sewer Service Customers

City Clerk/Treasurer McKinney outlined the rationale for charging new customers that open up accounts to connect to an existing water line. He noted that from what he could tell, the original purpose of this fee was to charge customers that were disconnected by the City for non-payment or other reasons. Logdahl felt that these charges were excessive and forwarded this item to the Planning & Zoning Commission for their review.

No formal action was taken on this agenda item.

Police Department Health Insurance

Logdahl noted that the employee’s responsibility for health insurance has changed from ten to fifteen percent and that the City’s cost for providing coverage would be much lower with the newer plan.

Motion by Pifher, second by Koppelmann, to change the Police Chief’s medical coverage from the current Medica MIC Choice MN 500-15 insurance plan to the Medica Direct HSA 100% insurance plan, motion carried 3-0 with Zimmer abstaining.

Resolution 2010-04 Supporting Fire Department’s Application for Operation Ranger

City Clerk/Treasurer McKinney noted that the Bigfork Fire Department asked for letters of support for their application to the Operation Ranger Program, for which the award was a Polaris 6x6 all-terrain vehicle.

Motion by Zimmer, second by Pifher, to approve Resolution 2010-04, MCU.

Grant Applications for City Hall Energy Efficiency Project

Zimmer noted that this issue has been addressed in the past. Logdahl stated that Minnesota Power may be able to provide some funding for such a project. City Attorney Licke advised that the City determine whether the money received is worth the time and effort invested in the application for federal funding.

No formal action was taken on this agenda item.

Comprehensive Plan Funding

City Clerk/Treasurer McKinney noted that he had spoken to Tim Johnson from the Northern Itasca Joint Powers Board regarding the comprehensive plan. He noted that the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) provided a quote of $15,000 for a full comprehensive plan. He estimated that the City’s share of the project might be approximately 10% of the total project cost, or $1,500. He also noted that the Blandin Foundation was willing to make a commitment of between $5,000 and $7,500 for plan funding. He also noted that ARDC could seek grant funding through the Minnesota Housing Partnership, which might also cover between $5,000 and $7,500 for plan funding. He also noted that if funding was less than needed for the project that the City could contract Iron Range Resources for additional grant funding.

Logdahl noted that the City could check with the Hospital to see if they have seed funding available for this project.

Motion by Zimmer, second by Pifher, to move forward on the comprehensive plan, MCU.

Auditor Contract Approval

City Clerk/Treasurer McKinney noted that the quoted cost by the City’s auditing firm did not change from 2009. Pifher noted that Miller McDonald had provided the best quote for services in the past.

Motion by Logdahl, second by Pifher, to approve Miller McDonald’s auditor contract for 2010, MCU.

Electricity Included in Airport Lease

City Clerk/Treasurer McKinney noted that the majority of the cost of providing electric service to the airplane hangar was covered by the City, while the individual leasing the hangar only covered the actual cost of electric usage there.

Zimmer noted that the meter only covers electricity used to service the hangar.

City Clerk/Treasurer McKinney noted that hangar fees were $540 for 2010 and $464 for 2009.

No formal action was taken on this agenda item.

Change in City Accounting Methods

City Clerk/Treasurer McKinney noted that current City accounting practice was to assign expenditures to available funds within the budget rather than an accurate accounting code closest to that expenditure. He stated that he would like to assign those expenditures to the code that best fits the expense regardless of whether the object code was included in the budget or if the budget for that object code was already exhausted. He stated that this would not alter the overall budget. He stated that the goal of this change would be to create more accurate budgeting in the future based on actual expenditures rather than estimates.

No formal action was taken on this agenda item.

Effie Wastewater Contract Update

City Clerk/Treasurer McKinney noted that the City of Effie voted to suspend its mutual aid agreement with Bigfork for wastewater services. He noted that since the contract between the two parties had expired and was not continued that Effie could end this arrangement without 30 days of notice.

No formal action was taken on this agenda item.

Worker’s Compensation Coverage

City Clerk/Treasurer McKinney outlined the current Worker’s Compensation coverage the City carries and asked if the Council would like to change any items for 2010. Logdahl asked that McKinney check to be sure that payment for this service was included in the 2010 budget.

No formal action was taken on this agenda item.

Other Business

Closed Sessions for preliminary consideration of allegations of misconduct made against individuals subject to the City Council’s authority

Motion by Zimmer, second by Pifher, to adjourn, MCU. The meeting was adjourned at 10:05 p.m. The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 6:00 p.m.

Michael McKinney City Clerk/Treasurer