August 26, 2013 Work Session

Reinhardt, Hughes, Williamson, Bren, Sippel, Tolsma, Lewin, Goman, Beck, Pearson.



a.    Included is an inspection report from Scott Qualle along with several pictures showing the general conditions of the vacant SuperAmerica. In phone conversations with Dave Galm he noted that he would very much like for the city to make an offer and would certainly understand that the amount offered would take into consideration the amount of work needed to repair the facility to a useable condition again. Also included is a memo from the League of Minnesota Cities titled “Purchase and Sale of Real Property” with pertinent sections highlighted. Of particular interest to me reading through the memo were the sections about environmental concerns (pg. 16), bonding (pg. 21), and planning commission report (pg. 21).


I’ve also been in contact with Lynn Bremer regarding the property adjacent to city hall. Lynn has reiterated in all of our conversations that the property is worth roughly $240,000 to him due to the amount of revenue it generates for him.


Reinhardt said there are photos and a memo from the building inspector.  Tolsma said after inspecting the site, measuring of equipment was done and all equipment would fit.  Tolsma said there is about 12 inches clearance.  Tolsma said the roof is the biggest concern.  Qualle looked at the condition of the trusses and went on top of the roof.  Qualle said the trusses appeared to be in good condition and could be re-used.  He said flat roofs need to be recoated about every seven years so there has been some water permeation.  Tolsma said the shell of the building is in good condition.  The inside would probably be gutted and roof work needed.  He said the next step is to get some estimates from contractors for pricing. 


Tolsma said he had discussion with the city's neighbor, Lynn Bremer.  He said a price of about $240K was discussed.  Tolsma said staff has concerns about the grading, the elevation and the building.  Sippel wonders why the building would be even considered as it would be torn down.  Hughes said today’s equipment might fit but tomorrow’s equipment is the unknown.  Reinhardt said the city is fully developed so there might not be any new equipment needed.  Tolsma said the other option was at the tennis court location.  He said he hasn’t done much work on that as he sensed that wasn’t the direction the council was considering.  Tolsma said as far as access is concerned, the old SuperAmerica site suits best.  Screening and security fencing would be needed.  Environmental concerns for the SA site would need to be researched.  Beck said research would have to be done.  She said soil testing would also need to be done.  She said in a purchase agreement there would be a due diligence period in order to check these things out.  Beck said with contaminated soils it can’t be indemnified.  Bren asked about grants or monies available for cleanup sites.  Goman said the tanks have been removed and there has been an all clear.  He doesn’t know how far the all clear goes though.  Sippel asked how long the SA was a gas station.  Goman said around the mid 70’s.  Sippel said he’s interested in boring in the undisturbed soil below the tanks.  Hughes wonders about tearing down and starting from scratch, he wonders how the lot would be reconfigured.  Sippel said he didn’t think the building at the SA site was coming down.  Hughes said the building placement is not ideal and height might be an issue.  Reinhardt said the next step is probably getting some numbers together. Reinhardt said she looked up the tax value and it’s at $300,000.  She said she wonders what they would accept.  Tolsma said he’s been conversing with Marathon Oil and it’s been made clear they would like to get rid of the property.  The $300,000 was discussed and Tolsma said it’s a starting point but dollars would have to be considered to get it up and running.  Williamson said it represents a value but for SA it’s been a negative asset considering property taxes and insurance.  He said those costs continue.  So, for the value of money, most reputable businesses think about liquidating to free up the dollars.  Reinhardt asked about bonding to purchase property and there might need to be a special election.  Reinhardt said it isn’t insurmountable but the city doesn’t have to bond to buy the property.  Williamson said the property could be bought for cash and the build out could be bonded.  Sippel wonders if numbers should be gotten for a retro fit or tear down and rebuild or both.  Reinhardt thought probably for both. 


    1. Included for review is an updated budget which incorporates the feedback received at the July work session. This budget does not include a general fund transfer and you will notice that the levy is now $975,000 instead of $950,000. The budget also includes a $3,000 allocation for the Westonka Historical Society and more accurate figures for fire services. Additionally, the CIP has been amended to include a dynamic sign. 

Tolsma said $975,000 is the new number after a few adjustments.  Tolsma said his direction was to have a budget without a revenue transfer.  He said it’s just the way the numbers added up.  Reinhardt said police is pretty ball-parked but nothing is final yet.  She wondered when the preliminary budget needed to be approved and Tolsma said by September 16th so both meetings would work.  Hughes said the City of Mound has wanted to purchase a new ladder truck but he has noticed a shift.  He said police has gone to district policing and fire is looking to do the same.  He said to spend $850,000 on a ladder truck to use a few times when there are ladder trucks in the area available, he wonders if this has shifted away.  Tolsma said he believes Chief Peterson knows this will be a tough sell but is still trying to keep this alive.  They have a ladder truck but it’s older and they want a bucket truck.  Sippel asked who had ladder trucks.  Goman said Excelsior and Maple Plain.  Williamson said Mound Fire Department has a low ISO rating so it translates to lower insurance costs to homeowners.


Reinhardt said without firm numbers on police and health insurance, she wonders if the levy should be bumped to $980,00 those numbers would be covered.  Williamson wonders when those numbers are coming.  Tolsma said he’s been told sometime in September but no definitive date yet.  Goman seems to believe that the police budget might remain flat.  Reinhardt said the final number can be lowered but it can’t be increased.  Tolsma said what he’s wondering is if he doesn’t have the final numbers, is $980K okay? 


Sippel asked about a blanket contingency that isn’t allocated.  Tolma said there is one designated and it’s for contingency dollars.   Hughes asked about the spring clean-up numbers.  Tolsma said it’s in there and it’s at about 54% of the budget so far.  Williamson asked about snow removal.  He said the 2013 amount is at $35,000 and $32,000 for the 2014 budget.  He said this bothers him that this number is under $35,000.  Reinhardt said 2012 was a lot lower so it’s averaged.  Williamson said given the strange weather we’re having, he thinks we should expect the worst and hope for the best.  Goman said the first load of salt comes out of this budget.  Williamson thinks it’s too optimistic to think this is going to be less than last year.  Tolsma said then this is going to push it above $980K.  Williamson said it’s better to be high right now and cut when we certify in December. Reinhardt said she doesn’t want to alarm the residents that taxes are going up because snow plowing is such an unknown.  Reinhardt, Sippel and Hughes are in favor of keeping the budget at $980,000. 


Goman said the street survey came in and it’s about $3600.  Goman said hopefully it will be covered in the contingency fund.  Goman would like to make a pitch for CIP, traffic signals at both intersections.  He said HC is responsible for both signals.  He said HC is slowly retrofitting to battery backup.  Goman said a price from HC is about $8K per intersection.  He said we’re low on the priority list so it could be several years out.  He said it’s an option to be looked at.  Reinhardt wonders how far down the list Spring Park is and Goman said he’s asked but can’t get any answers.  Williamson suggests Jan Callison’s office be contacted to see if we can get a better answer.  Hughes wonders if retaining walls can hold off until 2016.  Williamson wonders if they can be evaluated.  Goman said they’re being measured and the density of the timbers – structural integrity can be measured.  Goman said the one he’s really concerned about is the one by Lake Minnetonka Motorsports.  Goman would like to push for Lift Station Five by LF Apartments.  He said there are some issues with the pumps.  He said the structure is showing some signs of rust.  He said there are two lift stations left to retrofit and this one is worse than Channel Road.  He said it’s a deeper lift station and it is 27 feet to the bottom and the location along the roadway.  He said $400K is what’s budgeted and he’d like to pursue a feasibility study.  Reinhardt wondered about a lift station in conjunction with a road project and Goman said it could happen.  That’s the way Mound does it.  Williamson said when watching cable tv shows, a lot of estimates are coming in high.  He said they are not close.  Williamson said these projects are going to get more expensive as contractors aren’t as hungry as they used to be.  Pearson said past work can sometimes help minimize costs.  He also said a lot of contractors went out of business during the recession so they are busy.  Reinhardt said she is open to getting an estimate for a feasibility study.


    1. Included for review is a draft letter meant for Spring Park residents giving them the most essential information regarding water quality while directing them to go to the website for more detailed information if they so desire. 

Reinhardt said Tolsma modified a draft letter that Beck put together.  Sippel said paragraph three should be condensed to one sentence.  He would like to add the measures that have already been taken.  Hughes agrees it needs to be cut down.  Sippel said it should be what’s the issue and what can I do about it.  Beck said the 2012 test results are in there and she wonders about 2013.  Goman said they have them.  Hughes likes bullet points.  Williamson said maybe there is advantage in having this wordy and too long.  Sippel said providing this information on the website for a reference point but for key points, it needs to be more condensed.  Reinhardt said she assumes this will be mailed to all residents – all mailing addresses. Sippel said the plug for signing up for the e-newsletter might reach more people.  


    1. Paul Lewin (Wendy’s husband) will be retiring at the end of August and has indicated that he would be willing to fill in as a part-time worker in Everett’s absence to help the city keep up with mowing and other seasonal tasks throughout the remainder of the growing season. Paul has been an over the road truck driver for much of his career and would be able to assist DJ immediately due to his mechanical skills and knowledge of Spring Park. –

Tolsma said part-time Everitt was with the city for the summer and they are hopeful he will return next summer.  He had to leave to play soccer so he left early.  Goman said summer tasks are still needed to be done.  Tolsma said Lewin knows the city, is mechanically skilled and might be good for bridging the gap.  Sippel wondered if this is as needed basis.  Goman said it would be to the end of October, first part of November, depending upon the weather.  He said the mowing shuts down in the beginning of October and they move to fall cleanup.  Goman said he will be tied up with streetlights.  He said he’s out of town tomorrow and back on Wednesday concentrating on streetlights.  Hughes said he thinks it’s a no brainer.  Reinhardt is concerned about hiring Wendy’s husband.  Beck said she thinks the circumstances are unique.  She said we’re not legally required to advertise for every position but past practice has been they have advertised. She said the reasons why need to be explained.  She said it’s not a major job, someone is skilled and qualified, she said there is no reason for the city to go through the expense in advertising for this position.   Goman said the other option is North Country Lawns who does the spring mowing and dethatching.  Goman said it comes at a greater cost and Lewin can be used for other things.  Sippel asked about hourly rate and Beck said it should be the same as what was advertised.  Beck said it needs to stick within the range but can be based on experience.  Sippel said next year Lewin could apply for the position if he’s interested. Goman said all indications are that Everitt will be back in the spring.  Williamson said the temporary seasonal worker is not available so a temporary person is being hired and it will be revisited   Beck said a memo needs to be put together as it must be approved at a meeting. 


    1. June Financial Report
  2. Email Conversation Regarding 2401 Black Lake Road (Council Feedback Requested) - Williamson said he is concerned that money is being spent on consultants feedback when there isn't an active application in place.  He said they have nothing to go on as to what is being proposed.  Lewin explained that this property has been for sale for about four years and the same request comes up over and over again, either from prospective buyers or realtors:  can the property support a garage.  Lewin said in light of the variance procedure recently changing from hardship to practical difficulty, she saw the benefit in having the planner comment  on the possibility of a garage being built.  Williamson said this property was rebuilt many years ago and the property owners were warned about the their desire to sacrifice a garage over increased living space.  He said it was afterwards that they realized they should have done things differently.  Williamson believes this is something they are going to have to live with.  Sippel agrees.  He said as a planning commissioner and now a council member, he does not see where there is any way possible to put a garage on this small property.  He said there is no room and they'd be backing a vehicle onto Black Lake Road.  Hughes stated he would be adverse to anything being built within the 50 foot setback from the lake.  


Meeting adjourned at 9:06 pm.