Included below is the City of Minot’ City Council Committee of the Whole agenda for September 25, 2018. Also included in red are one Alderman’s questions, comments, and concerns.
1. FINAL PAYMENT- LIBRARY CHILLER REPLACEMENT – LIB030
As approved at the October, 2017 City Council meeting, the Minot Public Library replaced an air conditioning unit (chiller) in the early spring of 2018. C&C Plumbing & Heating, L.L.P. was awarded the project and completed work the week of 9/10/18.
It is recommended the Committee and Council approve the final payment in the amount of $2,071.10 to C&C Plumbing for the completion of project LIB030 (Library Chiller Replacement).
This is a final payment on a previously approved spending item related to needed maintenance at the Library. This can be approved on the consent agenda.
2. SWIF ACTION C LEVEE REPAIR, BANK STABILIZATION – FINAL PAYMENT (P3135.2C)
This project removed trees within the levee footprint, repaired minor erosion areas that could jeopardize the levee integrity, and stabilized bank erosion. The project was bid in August of 2017 and Park Construction submitted the low bid for the project at $966,077.80. After balancing quantities on the project and adding some additional work, the project came in $8,781.71 under the bid price.
It is recommended the City Council approve the final payment to Park Construction in the amount of $125,611.27 for the SWIF Action C Levee Repair.
This is a portion of work associated with bringing Minot’s existing flood protection system of dikes into compliance with Corps standards. And again, this is a final payment that should be approved, but we need to be persistent in demanding accountability and high performance.
Comment: One part of these projects where I’m concerned about performance is on our planting practices to get these areas returned to grass. There is a weed problem in town, many of these newly planted areas along the river following SWIF work appear to be contributing to that problem. Staff should be questioned regarding this SWIF-associated issue.
Comment: These challenges illustrate an urgent need to address our growing green scape and plans for efficient management. Is it more appropriate to return these areas to native prairie plants and grasses that require less maintenance?
3. CITIES OF SERVICE BUDGET AMENDMENT (LIB032)
Tools were purchased to be rented out to the public as part of the new library program. They were budgeted in the library’s general fund. Because these items are rented out, they need to be capitalized.
It is recommended the Committee and Council pass an ordinance to increase library capital revenues and expenditures and decrease general fund planning revenue and expenditures
How is this different than the purchase of books and media that are also ‘rented’ out to citizens? Are we charging a fee? Do we capitalize those purchases in the same way?
I support this program and appreciate the efforts of the library staff and our Americorps Vista team for getting it running. I expect to support the requested action, but it’s also an opportunity to learn briefly about our internal accounting practices.
4. SPECIAL ASSESSMENT APPROVAL; REVISED 2018 WEED CUTTING
Two parcels were pulled from last month’s weed cutting list: #131540400030 was pulled to allow the property owner a protest period and no protest has been received. #34C691000120 was pulled as it was discovered the wrong parcel/address was used. Notice has been given to the property owners and the City wishes to certify the assessments to Ward County for collection with property taxes.
Staff recommends the approval of special assessment for weed cutting costs for the two remaining parcels.
Extra time has been provided to address concerns and provide an opportunity to protest. No protest was received; this should be approved on the consent agenda.
5. JOINT POWERS AGREEMENT – MINOT PARK DISTRICT
On August 7, 2017, the City Council considered the request of the Minot Park District with respect to construction of the Magic City Discovery Center, a community facility located in Minot, ND. The Council has given tentative approval for their finance request in the amount of one million dollars. This one million dollar contribution is contingent and subject to (1) the passage of an ordinance (on second reading at the October 1, 2018 meeting); (2) the execution and signature of the attached Joint Powers Agreement; (3) determination by the City Finance Director that sufficient funds have been collected upon the city sales tax which adequately fund the NAWS project and further permit distributions of the one million dollar sum for improvements and enhancements to Roosevelt Park Zoo; (4) proof to the City Finance Director that, prior to disbursement of any monies by the City and no later than December 31, 2018, the Minot Park District or Magic City Discovery Center raised an additional five hundred thousand dollars for the Magic City Discovery Center; and (5) execution of an agreement between the Minot Park District and Magic City Discovery Center relating to this venture.
It is recommended the City Council move to approve the Joint Powers Agreement between the City of Minot and the Minot Park District and authorize the Mayor to sign the Agreement.
- Memo Community Facilities_Minot Park District_Childrens Museum.pdf
- FINAL_JP Agreement_Childrens Museum.pdf
- Agreement 9-19-18 (Redline) (002).pdf
- Ground Lease 9-18-18 (Redline).pdf
Clause three in the staff memo from Ms. Hendershot needs to be discussed, it states “determination by the City Finance Director that sufficient funds have been collected upon the city sales tax which adequately fund the NAWS project and further permit distributions of the one million dollar sum for improvements and enhancements to Roosevelt Park Zoo;”. Obviously, we didn’t collect enough for NAWS. We appear to have been about $50 million short! But we also granted this money to multiple organizations including the Children’s Museum, the Zoo/Park District, MSU, and ourselves for projects including City Hall video and access improvements and the Carnegie Center structural issues.
I expect to have additional comments regarding this item at meeting time, but my expectation is that I will support approval of the Joint Powers Agreement.
6. APPROVAL OF NON-SUBSTANTIAL AMENDMENT #9 CDBG-DR ALLOCATION #2
All changes in this amendment involve minor adjust of accounts based on project close-out or winding down projects. The one exception is recently approved $50,000 for the Anne Street Bridge study for which funds are being transferred from administration to the previously de-funded line item for the Anne Street Bridge Study.
It is recommended the City Council approve the Non-Substantial (Technical) Amendment #9 for CDBG-DR Allocation #2.
This bridge has been a part of Minot’s past for more than a hundred years; it’s my opinion that it should also remain a part of our future. The bridge assessment represents a critical need and I think this is an appropriate use of federal funds. I will support this action.
7. CITY COUNCIL EMINENT DOMAIN AUTHORIZATION FOR CDBG-NDR PROPERTY ACQUISITION
These three properties are located in what is identified as Buyout Area #4 in the HUD approved CDBG-NDR Action Plan. The city has carried out the due diligence with the owners of these properties as set forth in HUD’s involuntary acquisition guidelines and the requirements of the federal Uniform Relocation Act.
It is recommended the City Council authorize Eminent Domain process to commence for acquisition of 435 Fourth Avenue NE, 19 Fifth Street NE, and 10 Sixth Street NE.
Question: 10 6th Street NE is not visible on the City’s GIS system. Is this a typo? If not, I’d like to know which associated property this is for?
Eminent domain is a last and least-desired option, but when we get to a point where it’s needed, we have little choice. And we need to get the process moving to ensure we can maintain flood protection project timelines; the courts do not move fast. The City has been successful in negotiating settlements on similar cases before they ultimately end up in the court; it is important to encourage staff to continue working towards similar results.
8. LEGISLATIVE PROCESS AND PRIORITIES
The North Dakota Legislature meets biennially. The next session of the Legislature will be held from January 2019 to April of 2019. To prepare local legislative leaders to best represent the interests of the City and Community, more needs to be done to adequately brief and prepare local legislators on the issues and concerns important to our community.
- It is recommended the City Council approve the 2019 City of Minot Legislative Process; and
- Request all Council Members begin identifying legislative priorities
It’s difficult to overstate how important this is. It’s also difficult to overstate how much an improvement this from previous practices. While I don’t have an extensive list of priorities prepared for discussion at Committee of the Whole, I will have several items prepared to introduce at City Council next week.
9. DEPARTMENT PRESENTATION: FIRE DEPARTMENT
The Fire Chief will present an update on current activities taking place and obstacles encountered within the Fire Department.
This the first Director report and presentation in what will become a regular part of monthly committee agendas. It’s a small, but clear step that staff and Council are working together to both better communicate and improve transparency of the City’s operations and practices.
10. SETTLEMENT OFFER- DAMAGED TRAFFIC SIGNAL
Progressive Insurance Company insured a driver that struck a traffic signal in the City of Minot on February 14, 2018, then left the scene of the accident. The driver was located by the North Dakota Highway Patrol and Ward County Sheriff’s Department, was cited for and pled guilty to leaving the scene of a fixed object and violating the conditions of his overwidth permit. Main Electric Construction, Inc. invoiced the City of Minot $11,476.15 for the repairs. On September 21, 2018, Progressive Insurance offered to settle his claim for the full replacement cost ($11,476.15).
It is recommended the City Council accept offer from Progressive Insurance Company to settle outstanding claim with the City of Minot for the full amount to replace the traffic signal ($11,476.15) and authorize the Mayor to sign the Full Release of All Property Damage Claims on behalf of the City of Minot.
On first read, this appears to be a clear-cut case of the City being in the right, and I appreciate staff diligence in holding the line on our request for full repayment of damages. I will support this recommended action on the consent agenda.
11. REALLOCATION OF THE FIRST PENNY SALES TAX
This proposed amendment to section 28½-108(3) will allow the Minot City Council additional flexibility in the allocation of fifteen percent of the first penny. The amendment would maintain the current ability to allocate that fifteen percent portion of the first penny to permanent flood control and/or MAGIC Fund functions and activities, but would also add the ability of the Minot City Council to allocate some or all of the fifteen percent to other economic development activities or initiatives approved by the Minot City Council.
It is recommended the City Council approve, on first reading, the proposed amendment to the first penny sales tax ordinance.
- Pitner Memo RE Allocation.pdf
Economic development activities generate no small amount of conversation and debate. That’s good; they should. Minot’s practices in this arena are going through some much-needed changes. It’s my opinion that we’re at a point in this process where having the agility created by this change may be valuable. Politically speaking, it’s also a signal that we on City Council mean business and we expect to see reform delivered throughout the several organizations that have a role under our economic development umbrella. That said, there’s system-risk at stake when a check and balance committee — the MAGIC Fund Screening Committee — is removed from the process. It would be my preference that while we’re in this transitionary period, we attempt to keep and improve on this check and balance role. I’m curious to hear other points generated during today’s conversation, but I’m leaning toward supporting this motion brought by Alderman Pitner.