The Taconite Capital of the World

City of Mountain Iron, Minnesota



Meeting Minutes for April 21, 2003

MOUNTAIN IRON CITY COUNCIL

APRIL 21, 2003

Mayor Skalko called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. with the following members present: Joe Prebeg, Jr., Allen Nelson, Dale Irish, Ed Roskoski and Mayor Gary Skalko. Also present were: Craig J. Wainio, City Administrator; Judy Seurer, Accounting Technician; Sgt. Joe Stewart, St. Louis County Sheriffs; Don Kleinschmidt, Director of Public Works and Rod Flannigan, City Engineer.

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg that the consent agenda be approved as follows:

Add the following items to the agenda:

Change in policy for publishing City messages in the Mesabi Daily News 

Library grant application personnel

Closed meeting request

Approve the minutes of the April 7, 2003, City Council meeting as submitted.

That the communications be accepted, placed on file, and those requiring further action by the Council be acted upon during their proper sequence on the agenda.

To acknowledge the receipts for the period April 1-15, 2003, totaling $99462.88, (a list is attached and made a part of these minutes).

To authorize the payment of the bills and payroll for the period April 1-15, 2003, totaling $165,180.65, (a list is attached and made a part of these minutes).

The motion was carried unanimously on a roll call vote. 

During the public forum, Bob Manzoline from the Regional Rail Authority spoke concerning the trail head at Locomotive Park. He requested the Council consider expanding and put in a trailhead with an information kiosk and a parking area. He also requested designating Main Street and Mesabi Avenue as bike trails. Mr. Manzoline requested the Council to call for a public hearing on the proposed improvements. Roskoski asked who would pay for the trailhead improvements. Mr. Manzoline stated that the Regional Rail Authority would pay for everything related to the trails. Roskoski asked if it was possible to leave the concrete pads in place or not, as historical information signs had been planned for the area. Mr. Manzoline stated that no plans were finalized yet and it is possible to do some historical signing. Mayor Skalko questioned Mr. Manzoline on what the Council has to do. Mr. Manzoline stated that the Council could call for a public hearing on the new trail alignments; designating streets as bikeways and also on re-work of Locomotive Park area. The meeting should be held jointly with the Council and the Rail Authority. Scheduling the hearing 15 minutes before the next regular Council meeting would be appropriate. Discussion took place concerning the proposed streets to be used as bike trails. 

Discussion also took place concerning the costs for the trail routed through the Wacoota and Iroquois pit areas. The Mayor suggested the Old Downtown Committee be requested to provide input on which streets to designate as bike route.

Also during the public forum, Jeff Lackner, Quad Cities Economic Development Authority Director, was present to discuss establishing a Tax Free Zone in Mountain Iron. Discussion took place concerning the type of zones, the requirements for establishing the zone, the benefits to a business locating in the zone and the time frames for submitting an application to establish the zone and when it would be granted. Mr. Lackner stated that he would like Council input on the areas to designate as tax free zones on a map submitted in the application process. Roskoski stated that Merritt Industrial Park should be looked at and asked if rail yards can be included. Mayor Skalko asked if the maximum duration for the tax free zone would be 12 years. Mr. Lackner responded it would be 12 years after the zone is awarded. The Mayor also asked if the City would still get revenue from state at 50% of normal property taxes. Mr. Lackner said not to expect any revenue. He also suggested not including property already on the tax rolls. Mayor stated that the tax free zones are just a proposal for now. Roskoski stated that the Erickson-Truax area would also be good to include on the map. The City Administrator and Mr. Lackner will continue to work on the map areas until the law finalized. 

The Mayor reported that he had attended the last ROCC meeting. They are running in the black since Curl Mesabi took over management. There is a 16-year commitment for the City. The ROCC Board is hoping to reduce the cities� contributions. 

The City Administrator stated that the Software purchase is needed to accurately keep track of the fixed assets to remain in compliance with GASB #34. Councilor asked where the funding would be from. The City Administrator stated that it would be from the administration budget or from the capital improvement budget. 

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Skalko to purchase the Fixed Asset Software from Civic Systems, LLC and send two staff members to the training per the purchase agreement as submitted and to fund it from the Administration budget. The motion carried unanimously on a roll call vote.

The City Administrator requested authorization to attend the League of Minnesota Cities Annual Conference. The cost to the City would be mileage to St. Cloud, a hotel room, meals and registration costs. 

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg to authorize The City Administrator to attend the League of Minnesota Cities Conference. The motion failed on a roll call vote as follows: Prebeg, yes, Nelson, yes, Roskoski, no, Irish, no, Skalko no.

Discussion took place concerning the model home being erected on the Murphy Oil property near the Sawmill Saloon and Restaurant. The Zoning Administrator is determining if the structure is temporary or permanent. The City Administrator stated that the building owner has obtained a vendor permit and has obtained the forms to apply for a building permit. Prebeg had concerns on whether a building permit should be obtained first or not and if the proper procedures are being followed. The City Administrator stated that the owner of the building intends to leave the building on the location more than 180 days and that the building meets the required codes as it came out of Canada. 

It was moved by Roskoski that the home being manufactured to the south of the Sawmill be reviewed by the City Attorney as to zoning, inspections and permits required and report to the next Council meeting. The motion was withdrawn in favor of having staff monitor the situation. 

The motion was made again by Roskoski and supported by Skalko that the home being manufactured to the south of the Sawmill be reviewed by the City Attorney as to zoning, inspections and permits required and report to the next Council meeting. The motion carried unanimously.

The City Administrator reported that the County Assessor had alerted him that if anyone wanted more information on tomorrow night�s Board of Review meeting he would be here early, at 6:00 p.m.

The Director of Public Works requested Council authorization to call for quotes on the rebuilding of the Westgate Lift Station. The project is estimated at $15-20,000 to rebuild. The procedure would be to advertise for bids, tabulate them and bring them to the City Council for review. It was asked where the funds for the project would come from. The Director of Public Works stated that the Wastewater Treatment Plant Operating Fund reserve funds could be available.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson to authorize the Director of Public Works to seek quotes on the rebuilding of the Westgate Lift Station. Irish asked where the last one was funded. The Director of Public Works will research that information. Roskoski asked if there is some way to make it look better. The Director of Public Works will work with Dave Paakkonen, the property owner where the lift station is located, on the look. The motion carried unanimously.

The Director of Public Works requested Council authorization to call for quotes for crack sealing of various roads within the City. The roads done in the 2002 overlay projects in particular need this work done. The Street Committee concurs with this request. The project is budgeted in capital outlay. 

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Irish to accept the recommendation of the Street Committee and authorize the Director of Public Works to call for quotes on crack sealing. The motion carried unanimously.

The Mayor requested an update on the Brownie�s Furniture garbage/cardboard problem. The Director of Public Works contacted Brownie�s and will keep reminding them to keep it clean. Irish stated that they should be cited on a specific ordinance.

The Director of Public Works requested authorization to obtain a legal opinion from City Attorney on street assessment classifications and cost distributions along Unity Drive. The Street Committee recommended getting the opinion on the following questions: Can the City legally assess more on one side of a street than the other? Can the City have a private individual pay for a street upgrade on a public right of way? 

It was moved by Roskoski and supported by Irish to authorize staff to speak to the City Attorney about the two questions as follows: Can the City legally assess more on one side of a street than the other? Can the City have a private individual pay for a street upgrade on a public right of way? and report back to the Street Committee. The motion carried unanimously on a roll call vote.

Roskoski questioned the Director of Public Works on the gravel that has been pushed off the road into ditch area by the grader. He requested that it be taken care of before it washes away. The Director of Public Works stated that staff is assessing all gravel areas concerned.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson to approve the West Two Rivers Campground caretaker contract as presented (a copy of which is attached and made a part of these minutes). The motion carried unanimously on roll call vote.

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg to accept the City Attorney�s recommendation and deny the request by Terry and Diane Malmstrom to subdivide their lot in Unity Addition. The motion carried unanimously.

Rod Flannigan, Benchmark Engineering, reported that Greg French has obtained other employment. Other engineers in the firm will provide information as needed on specific projects. Rod Flannigan will attend the City Council meetings. Mr. Flannigan gave an update on the water tank project. Marty Halverson is the engineer overseeing water tank project. Irish asked if the brush pile at the City Garage has been moved. The Director of Public Works stated that equipment for the water tank project is in the way right now. The equipment will be moved once the project underway and staff will make an access to the brush pile. 

Sgt. Joe Stewart, St. Louis County Sheriffs Department, presented his monthly report to the Council. Councilor Irish asked if the new upgrade on the computer has been installed yet. Sgt. Stewart informed him that it was not installed, but had been ordered. 

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Roskoski to instruct the City Attorney to look at the IRRRA contracts concerning the Park Ridge Development as far as cancellation of the grant and clarification as to a matching grant and a contributing grant and report the information to the Council by the May 5, 2003 meeting. Discussion took place. Nelson asked how long the bids on the project are valid. The City Administrator stated they were valid for 30 days. The motion carried unanimously.

Discussion took place concerning Rick Vidmar�s proposal to perform the duties of assessor for the City. There was also discussion on seeking other proposals, the actual County costs and proposed increases. 

It was moved by Irish and supported by Nelson to call for quotes to perform the duties of assessor for the city and have them submitted by May 14, 2003. The motion was amended to include seeking the County�s costs for assessing services with support by Nelson. The motion carried unanimously.

Discussion took place concerning Resolution 13-03. The Street Committee wanted more info before recommending action. The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended moving forward with this project. 

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg to adopt Resolution 13-03, with the date of the public hearing set for May 19, 2003 (a copy of which is attached and made a part of these minutes). The motion carried unanimously

Discussion took place concerning the Bon-Air Clean-Up. The Mayor reported that no information has been received from the County Attorney or the City Attorney. Steve Skogman, St. Louis County Sheriff, was present and stated that the whole area is considered to be evidence. The earliest scenario for clean up to take place could be June. 

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Roskoski to allow Damberg, Scott, Gerzina and Wagner to develop plans and specifications for the library ADA accessible renovations; details for the plans and specifications to be worked out by the Library board, Roskoski and Mayor Skalko. Al Stanaway, Library Board Member, was present and asked who is responsible for making decisions for the Library. Is the Library Board the authority for spending the Library funds? According to State Statute interpretation, the Library Board is the authority for the Library. Roskoski stated that past practice, would indicate the City maintains building and is therefore the decision-making authority. Nelson asked where is the funding coming from for the renovations. The motion carried unanimously.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson to contact the City Attorney to get clarification on the Library Board�s authority. The motion carried with Roskoski voting no on a roll call vote.

Discussion of the Sump Pump Ordinance took place. Roskoski stated that the wording was changed to “recommend” so as not to constrict homeowner�s methods of keeping groundwater out of sanitary sewer. Prebeg stated that the ordinance is too vague, opening City up to liability, no enforcement and making it easier to possibly go against the plumbing and electrical codes. Nelson stated that the City Attorney said the Council opening the City up to liability problems and thinks the City will be remiss in adopting ordinance. The Director of Public Works explained the Council�s concerns to the City Attorney and he made his own recommendations. No action was taken. Irish stated the building official has authority to make changes. 

No action was taken concerning Resolution 14-03.

Discussion took place concerning a proposed South Grove Townhouse Development. The Director of Public Works recommended having the staff analyze the development and then the City Engineer. A gas line in the area could be a concern. He recommended gettting an idea of the whole project and then developing ideas on utility extensions and other concerns. 

It was moved by Roskoski and supported by Irish to have staff work with the developer and have Roskoski and Irish to assist staff in the negotiations. The motion carried unanimously.

Discussion took place concerning a possible off-highway vehicle recreation area. The Iron Trail Convention and Visitors Bureau is seeking information on possible sites for another recreation area in northeastern Minnesota.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Irish to have City Staff contact Mr. Ron Potter, at the State Department of Natural Resources to indicate the Council�s interest in more information on the possible area. The motion carried with Nelson voting no.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Roskoski to retain Sam Aluni to attend one meeting a month and if questions come up in between attendance, that the Mayor be given the authority to authorize any other questions to Mr. Aluni, using his discretion. Prebeg stated that there should be limits on use of the City Attorney and he doesn�t approve of the Council using the Attorney in an unrestricted manner with no spending limit. Roskoski stated that you don�t know what the cost will be until conversation over. The motion carried on a roll call vote as follows: Prebeg, no, Nelson, no, Roskoski, yes, Irish, yes, Skalko, yes.

No action was taken on the Park Ridge Development. 

The Mayor stated that a change in the policy of publishing notices in Mesabi Daily News is needed. The Director of Public Works stated there is a problem in notifying residents on refuse/recycling pickups and other utility work that is needed. He stated that normal routine ads 

could be left up to the department heads� discretion or the policy could be left as is with Council approval required. Roskoski stated that it should be normal routine to notify residents with newspaper ads. Special occasions, ads, should come to the Council for approval. 

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Roskoski to allow department heads to publish normal City messages to residents at their discretion, using small display ads. The motion carried unanimously.

Irish stated that he contacted John Fedo concerning possible library grant applications and would like to request him to come before the Council to present a proposal for grant writing. Mayor Skalko stated that he would also like to have Dick Dracko come before the Council to describe the work he does in grant writing. 

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Irish to have the City Administrator contact John Fedo and Dick Dracko to come in and talk to the Council about grant preparations. Prebeg suggested calling for proposals on grant writing. Skalko amended his motion to advertise for proposals on grant writing and have the proposals returned by May 14, 2003. The motion carried unanimously.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Irish that a closed meeting of the City Council be held with the City Attorney present to consider allegations of misconduct by a City employee. The motion carried unanimously.

During open discussion, Prebeg made a suggestion for the Board of Review Meeting to review all the information presented and then make decisions at the next regular meeting. Roskoski agreed with the suggestion, as did Mayor Skalko.

Irish asked if information on analysis of property tax bills that was printed in the newspaper could be copied and handed out at the Board of Review meeting. It was the consensus of the Council was not to copy the information as everything in the informational article was only concerning proposals. 

Skalko informed the Council that he had written a column for the Mesabi Daily News concerning the Governor�s budget proposal and how it could affect rural Minnesota.

At 9:34 p.m. it was moved by Nelson and supported by Roskoski to adjourn the meeting. The motion carried. 

COMMUNICATIONS

APRIL 21, 2003

Deputy Tim Officer, St. Louis County Sheriff�s Office, a letter informing the Council of the upcoming D.A.R.E. Graduation ceremony.

Mike Robinson, Transportation District Engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, a letter concerning Transportation Enhancement funding for Fiscal Year 2006.

Quad Cities Joint Powers Board Meeting Minutes from the meeting held on March 12, 20003.

Quad Cities Joint Powers Board Meeting Agenda for April 16, 2003.

Old Town Committee Meeting Notes from the meeting held on March 26, 2003

Letter from Mayor Gary Skalko to James McConnell of USX Minntac.

Recent News

Campground Reservations

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