November 25, 2013 Work Session

Attendance:  Reinhardt, Williamson, Hughes, Sippel, Bren, Engineer Pearson, Building Official Qualle, Administrator Tolsma, Clerk Lewin, Utility Superintendent Gomanm,  Attorney Beck, Mound CSO Mike Wocken.


    1. Mound CSO Mike Wocken will be at the meeting discuss how approaches nuisance properties in Mound. Staff met with Mike a few weeks ago to discuss potentially contracting his services for Spring Park due to the amount of time involved with nuisance complaints. Mike and Mound City Manager Kandis Hanson have both confirmed that they would be open to working together with us. 

Wocken said he’s been with Mound for nine years and he has always been a part of enforcement.  He said nuisance control is about 85% of his job.  He said the economy helped, oddly enough.  He said foreclosure turned the housing over.  Wocken said Mound’s codes are very close to Spring Park’s.  He said he doesn’t think he’s ever written a citation.  He prefers to work with the property owner.  Wocken starts out with a warning tag and puts it on the door.  He follows up ten days later.  He’ll continue to do weekly stops and if he sees progress, he’ll let them continue with the cleanup.  He said he has gone so far as ordering a dumpster and had cleanup personnel.  Wocken said the neighbors love him.  He said it’s about property values and the devaluation because of the nuisance properties.  He said Spring Park has everything in place to do this. 


He will work how the city wants him to work.  Reinhardt asked the biggest reason why people will respond to him.  Wocken said it’s been proven and from past experience that anything attached to the sheriff’s department or police department, someone that drives a marked vehicle and the uniform changes the seriousness about the matter.  Hughes asked what happens to the towed vehicles.  Wocken said the owner accrues impound fees so they usually are quick to deal with it once they’re incurring costs.  Wocken said he’s found that French Lake Auto will pick up vehicles and pay (purchase) for the car at the pick up. 


Hughes asked what the impact is on the city’s budget.  Wocken said any time he accrues is billable back to the property owner.  He said Mound’s biggest problem lately has been unmowed grass.  He said outside mowers are commissioned and the property owner is billed.  If they don’t pay, the bill is assessed.  Hughes asked who Wocken deals with if it’s rental property.  Wocken said a notice goes on the door and he then sends a copy of the notice to the property owner listed on the HC property tax records.  Reinhardt asked if there are false accusations against property owners.  Wocken said yes, it does happen and there are times when the property is not considered a nuisance.  Hughes asked how many hours he works as a CSO.  Wocken said he’s 40 hours a week but the majority of the day is spent with ordinance enforcement.  Williamson asked if he patrols elsewhere besides Mound and Wocken said no, he stays in Mound. 


Reinhardt said she is intrigued and Hughes agrees.  Tolsma said Kandis Hanson, City of Mound, is in favor of this.  Tolsma wonders if the city wants to keep Wocken on a complaint based generation or patrol based.  Hughes thinks patrol, initially, would give him an idea as to what he’s dealing with.  Reinhardt asked about business clean ups.  He said he spends a little more time with them.  Sippel and Williamson are wondering how this will be paid out.  Sippel said he foresees where Wocken would for instance allocate 5-10 hours per week to Spring Park and would be paid accordingly.  Wocken agreed, he said they could review this quarterly and see how the dedicated time assignment works out.  Reinhardt directed Tolsma to speak with Kandis Hanson and work out the details and bring it back to the council. 


  1. RENTAL ORDINANCE DISCUSSION – *Documents are double sided
    1. The first attached document is the 2012 International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC) which Scott discussed at the last work session in October.
    2. The second attached document is an example of a city (Hopkins) that has adopted the full IPMC by reference, although they have modified a number of sections with their own terminology or through deletion.
    3. The third attached document is an example of a modified and condensed version of the IPMC that has been adopted by the city of Golden Valley.
    4. The fourth attached document is the current inspection form used by the Mound Fire Department when they inspect multi-unit rentals in Spring Park.


·         Note: DJ estimates that there are 55 +/- single family houses being used for rentals in Spring Park currently.


Tolsma said he’s asking for direction from the council.  He said they wanted to present some examples to the council.  He said the main document is the IPMC.  Qualle asked if Mound Fire goes into the actual units or just the common areas.  Qualle said the IPMC dovetails well with the other codes they already enforce.  He said it’s a nice starting point.  Hughes said he likes what he sees in the IPMC and he likes what Mound Fire is doing.  Hughes said Chief Pederson could customize this for Spring Park.  Qualle said this is usually overseen by the building official.  He said if this moves forward it should be in concert with a rental ordinance.  Williamson asked if Spring Park apartment buildings are currently being inspected and Qualle said yes.  Hughes said he’s concerned about not doing anything. Williamson said he’s looking at the 55 single family houses that are classified as rentals and he thinks they can have far more problems than apartments.  Reinhardt said she likes Golden Valley’s approach and she is open to the idea.  So is Bren and wonders if the planning commission would like to review this.  Hughes wonders about what Qualle, Pederson and Tolsma could put together, more on the safety side of things. 


Reinhardt asks about the next step.  Qualle said whoever this gets delegated to, they need to know if they want to regulate rental housing in Spring Park. They need to make that decision. Qualle said the IPMC is mostly life, health and  safety issues.  Qualle said this is designed as a medium level and he thinks that’s better than starting slow and then ramping up.  Sippel said he struggles with the administration and if there is a registration process.  He wonders how this will be regulated.  Qualle said there are typically fines assessed if they’re not in compliance.  Sippel said that's presumed the city knows about it.  Qualle said there are some sources for figuring it out. He said utility bills, non-homestead properties.  Sippel said he has sometimes short-term rentals and they are to people he knows so he wonders about that.  Qualle said that gets addressed in the definitions and when it is a rental and when it isn’t.  He said sometimes it comes down to if there are two kitchens and someone else lives there, it can be considered a rental.  Reinhardt wants to know if the council wants to regulate rental housing.  Hughes said he would like to see this come up at the next council meeting for a motion to proceed forward on investigating this process of looking into pursuing or exploring the potential of a rental safety ordinance.  Qualle said they have a process in place in how to manage this. 

    1. Included is a memo from Paul Pearson detailing the city’s options and considerations regarding pursuit of liquidated damages from GLE for the street light project.

Pearson asked Tolsma to provide the background.  Tolsma said after the project completed they looked at liquidated damages portion of the contract and according to the contract it was found they could go up to 60 days and it’s $400 per day.  Staff didn’t want to make a decision on what to do and the Admin Committee asked for past practices with other cities.  Pearson did some research on this.  Tolsma said in summary, on the timeline, under  e. is the September 10th date and they feel comfortable with the streetlights as intended to be used.  He said that was ten days after the contract.  Hughes asked about September 10th.  He said the traffic and rebuilt light fixtures weren’t functioning yet.  Pearson said under e, in the summary it states what wasn’t completed yet.  He said on November 1st the unfinished work was completed.  Reinhardt wonders what will happen if we try to impose these liquidated damages.  She wonders if it’s worth it.  Pearson said he wasn’t able to do a true comparison.  He said street and utility projects which are more common, there have been cases when the contractor hasn’t completed the work. He said in those cases that’s where liquidated damages have been assessed.  He said some projects the majority of the work is completed but perhaps the sod hasn’t been placed or the sidewalk hasn’t been completed.  He said everything is functioning though.  He said there would be a decision to have mercy and not assess damages.  He said if they’re negligent then it’s more understandable. 


Pearson said in questioning what staff would do, he said as far as a definition of substantial completion, it’s identified and it comes from the project spec.  He said the def is the time in which the work has progressed to the point where it is sufficiently complete and can be utilized for the purpose it is intended.  Pearson said part of him says the contractor on September 10th the improvements were installed, were operating and functioning the streetlights were not installed but existing lights were being used.  He said the boat landing control panel had not been switched but it was operational.  He said the electric meters were functioning but hadn’t been installed.  Pearson said if he reads the definition, on September 10th the improvements could be utilized for the purposes intended. 


Pearson said when going to the November 1st date, he could say they have not met the contract requirements that the streetlights were not completed at the intersection and the boat landing installed and the electric meters were not installed so they had not met their contract obligation.  He said he believes Beck’s opinion is it could.  Beck said the September 10th date is conservative and recommends to hold them to that.  The thing that gets to the November 1st date is the streetlights at the intersections were not complete.  She thinks there is an argument that the streetlights weren’t all replaced until November 1st.  Beck said she thinks Reinhardt is right to consider the city’s reputation with the contractors.  Goman said in the past they typically have not charged liquidated damages.  Sippel said the delay was the order from the manufacturer and the five poles that had to be reordered due to access panels.  Pearson said the way this worked out, the streetlight intersection, the reason they weren’t installed, the arms from the pole to the light fixture hadn’t been supplied so MillerBernd had to make them.  Pearson said the supplier caused the problem.  It was in the city’s specifications. 


Reinhardt is in favor of the recommended item e, letting them know we weren’t happy it took longer and deduct the $4,000 from the next pay request.  Hughes agrees but establish that it would be $24,000 but because everything was completed by the 10th we are willing to overlook that part.  Sippel doesn’t think it’s worth pursuing for being ten days late.  Reinhardt said the project was approved in March so there were a lot of delays not due to the City.  Pearson said there is no problem in defending this, it’s just to what assess.  Sippel said he doesn’t know if $4,000 hurts enough for them to go back to the supplier.  Reinhardt asked the process.  Pearson said it’s actually deducted from the payment and they must be prepared to defend this.  Pearson said he would like to know the direction the council wants to proceed so he can formulate the language.  Reinhardt said she’d go for the $4,000, item e.  Hughes wonders if it might be worthwhile to ask them to come up with a discount for not making the deadline.  Beck asked about a letter of substantial completion.  Pearson said the contractor institutes it and they haven’t.  Williamson said it sounds as though this was a well-run project.  He’s hearing the work crews were hard-working and did a good job.  He thinks $4,000 is looking petty.  Goman said a letter spelling this out might help.  Tolsma wonders if Granite Ledge is going to go after their supplier for liquidated damages even if the city doesn’t asses; he said they might really be coming out ahead.  Beck said the council is the steward of taxpayers dollars.  Bren said she thought they did a nice job too.  She said she thinks if she heard Pearson say he likes to negotiate, he should negotiate this as long as he doesn’t spend a lot of time doing it.  Sippel thinks perhaps the city looks to charge $200 per day instead of the $400 per day with the suggestion that they will probably pass this through to the supplier. 


    1. PowerPoint included. –

Tolsma said this is the same as what was looked at previously when they certified the preliminary levy.  He said in discussions with contracting with Mike Wocken he did bump up on the expenditure side under building inspection from $10,000 to $15,000.  Tolsma said in keeping track of the numbers, he said they’re right on track with expenditures for the year. Williamson asked if there is any reason why those numbers could go up in greater proportion on the expense side.  Goman said not really.  Nothing beyond normal or expected.  Tolsma goes through the PowerPoint slides. Reinhardt really likes the charts and that they are spelled out. 


Reinhardt said since the line item budget hasn’t changed much she wonders if the council is comfortable with the recommended salary increases.  Hughes asked about rent for Norling for the entire year.  He said if the go ahead for a new public works facility is for next year, he wonders about a projected date.  Williamson in terms of overall budget wonders if there is any need to correct a problem.  Tolsma said he feels comfortable with the numbers because they are presently tracking accordingly.  Hughes wonders about the parks and he sees nothing about potential projects but asked about the $29,000 for ongoing maintenance.  Williamson reminded there is a rainy day fund and it’s Lakeview Lofts TIF and there might be a limit as to how long they can keep it.  He thinks it’s three years.  He said a new district can be identified, they can transfer it or they can defease it.  He thinks the balance might be around $160K.  He said if it’s defeased, the city will get about one third.  Williamson suggests they leave it until they have to do something with it. 


Reinhardt said she thinks the 3% staff increase is in line with her expectations.  Tolsma said there has been suggested higher increases for Sharon Farniok as she has a lower wage so she gets a lower increase when a percentage is given.  Reinhardt wonders if the 3% fairly compensates or does Tolsma think Farniok is still underpaid for the duties she does.  Tolsma said he thinks Farniok does a good job and he feels she’s underpaid.  Williamson asks Lewin if she is still considering a phasing in of retirement and he wonders if they should be thinking about where staffing is headed in the future.  Hughes said this is an election year and wonders if there is any value in a stipend for the additional work that goes into elections. Reinhardt said with the wage for Farniok being lower, she wonders if there is comparisons with other cities.  Reinhardt wonders if for Sharon the recommendation be bumped to $20, it would be a $1.40 hour increase.  The total impact to the budget would be about $1600.  Williamson likes the direction but it might be going a little too far.  Reinhardt wonders about $19.75 which is a $1.15 increase.  Hughes is in favor of a raise but it's hard to judge how much.  He said they don’t want to underpay someone.  He feels someone needs to be compensated if they are asked to fill in for higher paid employees. 


Bren mentions the fact that Williamson is getting something paid for by the city and the other council members are not getting the same.  She would like clarification or discussion on this subject, perhaps at a later date.  Hughes said it started because he wants to see council members go paperless.  Williamson said he thinks this was suggested for him and he was a test subject. Bren asked about Williamson’s residency being outside of the city.  She said she’s had someone ask about him not living in the city and she doesn’t know how to answer this.  Hughes said it’s been established with a planning commissioner.  Williamson said it’s been adjudicated that it’s where the person pays taxes, where he homesteads, etc.  Williamson said the building contractors have developed a reconstruction plan and they’re waiting for one last sign off from Williamson and they will order the reconstruction of the roof.  He said it’s coming down to the sticks.  Reinhardt asked for a desire to increase Sharon’s salary beyond the recommended 3%.  Tolsma said this can be brought back to the council meeting to make a decision.  Reinhardt said it would be nice to give staff direction for a resolution to bring back to the council meeting.  Sippel asked if there was anything exemplary that happened this past year.  Schooling, accreditations, certifications.  Hughes suggests Goman had to move the public works facility and that might deserve something more.  Goman said he received his emergency management certification. Hughes would like to see the staff evaluate themselves.  Reinhardt said there might be a staff review necessary.


    1. Staff met on Tuesday, Nov. 19th to discuss better ways of communicating upcoming potential purchases and/or projects with the city council. We will discuss the key points of that staff meeting at the work session.

Tolsma said there is a staff meeting this week.  There are some changes including overhauling the Dispatch and incorporating what the council wants to hear about.  He said e-mails can be part of the notification process.  He said this can be discussed at the next work session.  He said he wrote up a draft policy. Hughes said his concern about the process until that’s done, the staff needs to proceed with what they’ve been doing.  Tolsma said there won’t be any big changes.  Sippel said the main concern is being notified before the bill was presented.  He said the other is the question of urgency versus it’s something that can wait and the council can weigh in on it.  Hughes thinks CIP and budgeted items and under a certain dollar threshold, staff should be able to move ahead. 


6.    MISCELLANEOUS – Beck said they met with the Gorras and their attorney.  Beck said she felt Qualle handled himself very well.  Beck said she let the Gorras talk and she said it was clear there wasn’t much negotiation.  She said she felt it was good for them to get it out of their system.  Beck said she and Qualle are going to put together a very clear list of what needs to yet be done.  She gets the impression Gorra's attorney is reasonable and he may be able to bring them along.  Beck said she thinks it was a good meeting.  She said Qualle had all the references to the code and she thinks the attorney probably can talk Gorras around this. 


Sippel asked about the hired engineer’s opinion.  Qualle said he’s good with the engineer’s opinion but there were some things that weren’t fully explained.  Qualle has asked for more detailed plans and a more detailed scope of work.  Gorras don’t understand why they have to provide more details.  Hughes said Mound Fire has changed their pre-plan arrival due to the deterioration of the structure.  He said they will keep responding trucks away.  Beck wonders if this works.  She said she doesn’t want to add additional conditions if this new change works for fire response but will address it if this is not adequate. 


Williamson asked about the inspection of the water tower.  He wonders where that leaves the city.  Tolsma said they are waiting for lab results.  Goman said it’s not paint.  It’s some kind of mineral.  Goman said the interior paint is not as bad as originally thought.  He said the exterior of the water tower is still at issue.  Goman said it doesn’t affect the water quality, it doesn’t affect the water borne.  It’s not from the TCE’s.  Williamson said he wonders about the extra attorney and if the claim is scaled back.  Goman said the structure is in excellent shape.  It’s the paint coating. 


10:05 PM adjourned.