The Taconite Capital of the World

City of Mountain Iron, Minnesota

Meeting Minutes for December 01, 2004



DECEMBER 1, 2004

At 6:32 p.m. Mayor Skalko called the meeting to order with the following members present: Joe Prebeg, Jr., Dale Irish, Ed Roskoski, and Mayor Gary Skalko. Absent member included: Allen Nelson. Also present were: Craig J. Wainio, City Administrator; Jill M. Forseen, Municipal Services Secretary; Don Kleinschmidt, Director of Public Works; Joe Stewart, Sheriff�s Sergeant; Karen Luoma, Librarian; Steve Norvitch, Assistant Fire Chief; and Greg Chad, Fire Department Training Officer. 

The Mayor said that the main purpose of the meeting was to review the 2005 budget. He also stated that they are not really looking for reductions in the budget. The Mayor also recapped the 2004 budget regarding the Sheriff�s Department and the Street Department vehicle purchases. The Director of Public Works stated that in the 2004 budget a pickup truck for the Street Department and an emergency vehicle for the Sheriff�s Department were budgeted for and request for those will be presented at the next regular City Council meeting. Councilor Roskoski requested that City Staff prepare a list of what the mileage was on the Sheriff�s Department vehicle and the Street Department inventory. The Director of Public Works said that information would be supplied at the next regular meeting.

At 6:36 p.m., Larry Nanti, Recreation Director, entered the meeting.

Councilor Roskoski stated that the City Council should not budget in 2005 for vehicles and just carry over the 2004 budgeted vehicle purchases for 2005. Sergeant Stewart said that his vehicles are set up on specific rotation schedule. Councilor Irish asked if there were funds available in 2004 to pay for these vehicles. The City Administrator informed the Council that there was funding available.

The City Council reviewed the 2005 budget.

Councilor Roskoski questioned the Public Works budget increase of 4.9%. The Director of Public Works stated that the increase was due to the fact that not enough had been budgeted for in 2004 for the normal operation of the department.

Councilor Irish questioned why the tax revenue reflected a decrease of 1.5%. The City Administrator stated that this was due to the decrease in the bond levy for the Community Center, the decertification of some tax increment financing districts, and the addition of single family dwellings in Unity Addition to the tax rolls.

Mayor Skalko said that the proposed tax statements that were mailed to the residents for the 2005 payable taxes reflected a decreased. He said that the amount on the statements did include the proposed 5% increase on the City levy. He also stated that the reappraisals of all the property in Mountain Iron, that took place this summer, would be in reflected on the 2006 payable tax statements.

Councilor Roskoski asked if the City received an extra $200,000 in Taconite Production Tax. The City Administrator said that the Mining Effects taxes have not been split out of that amount yet.

Councilor Roskoski questioned why there was an increase in the Administration Budget by $18,000. The City Administrator said that there were increases in insurance, legal fees, and auditing.

Assistant Fire Chief Norvitch asked if the City Council had budgeted extra funds for the match to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) grant in the amount of $10,000 and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN/DNR) in the amount of $1,000. He also stated that an additional $3,000 to $4,000 would be required in the Fire Department budget for maintenance on safety devices in 2006. The City Administrator said that the grant matches were funded in the Capital Outlay budget. 

Councilor Irish questioned why there was $16,000 budgeted for salaries in the Planning and Zoning Department. The City Administrator said that the salaries were based on building projects completed in the City.

Councilor Prebeg questioned if the City can seek lower insurance rates when the insurance rates increased so much. Councilor Irish asked if the City could go out for competitive bids on the insurance. The City Administrator said that the City is locked into a contract with Blue Cross/Blue Shield until October, 2005 for the current insurance and the City is also obligated to provide the same insurance to the Contract Employees.

Councilor Roskoski questioned the utility expenses for the Library and questioned whether this was the utility rate increase from the City. The Director of Public Works said that a very small amount of the increase is from the previous utility rate increase, he said the majority of the increased costs were from an increase in natural gas prices. The Librarian advised the Council that Darlene Anderson, Assistant Librarian, would be retiring from the City on July 1, 2005. The Librarian said that the Personnel Committee would need to discuss this.

The Mayor questioned the Sergeant regarding the Emergency Vehicles replacement policy for his Department. The Sergeant said that vehicles are replaced every two years or when a vehicle reaches 80,000 miles. He said that this information was from research completed by the St. Louis County Motor pool regarding that the vehicle replacement policy was the most economical. 

Councilor Irish asked the City Administrator that if there are expenditures that do not reach the budgeted amount, where the extra funds go. The City Administrator said that any remaining funds would go into reserves, unless specified otherwise.

The Mayor discussed the plowing at the cemeteries. He said that it has been proposed to have Mountain Iron and Virginia alternate annually on the plowing of the cemeteries. The Mayor also suggested that the Calvary Cemetery Association and the Greenwood Association divide the 2005 budget appropriation equally. Councilor Irish requested that the Cemetery Associations supply their financial information to the City.

The Mayor asked Greg Chad if the Emergency Medical Technicians budget of $3,000 for 2005 would be appropriate. Mr. Chad said that it was sufficient.

Councilor Roskoski questioned who gets the Charitable Gambling Funds. The City Administrator said that the Recreation Department had been expending a majority of the funds. Councilor Irish said that some of the City contributions to groups should come out of the Charitable Gambling Fund.

Councilor Irish said that the Utility Advisory Board (UAB) should look into a sewer surcharge fund for the reconstruction of the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The Director of Public Works said that the UAB would be recommending an increase in the sewer charges for 2005.

Mayor Skalko said that he would like to have the City Administrator and/or the Recreation Director to send a letter to the property owners in South Grove area regarding the upgrade or consolidation of the South Grove Parks, seeking the residents� feedback. 

Councilor Prebeg questioned the $250,000 budget for the Park Ridge Development in the Capital Improvement Plan for 2005. The City Administrator said that the future improvements there are up to the City Council.

Councilor Prebeg questioned the Library Renovations budget for 2005. Councilor Prebeg asked how much funds had been expended on the library renovation project to date, how much funds are need to complete the project, and/or does the Council need to replenish the capital improvement budget. The City Administrator said that approximately $80,000 has been expended in 2004 and this amount was budgeted for in 2004. 

The Council discussed their Capital Improvement priorities. The City Administrator stated that there was $92,000 not designated yet. The following projects were brought up:

Street Lighting in Ann�s Acres Addition-$30,000 (Roskoski) NOTE: Councilor Prebeg thought the Engineer�s estimate was approximately $80,000 and that according to the Street Lighting Policy that additional lights should be assessed.

Grant match for the clean up of the Desert area-$80,000.

Ambulance Service (Skalko) NOTE: The City Administrator said this would be a regular line budget item. 

Land exchange with the Mountain Iron-Buhl School District-$75,000 (Prebeg)

Locomotive Park Upgrades-$30,000 (Roskoski and Skalko)

At 8:06 p.m., Councilor Nelson entered the meeting.

The Mayor suggested that the Council members review the wants and needs of the City. He suggested developing a lighting plan throughout the entire town.

Councilor Prebeg said that he would like to refer the street lighting issue to the Utility Advisory Board to develop a plan and budget.

Councilor Prebeg proposed the following for the remaining Capital Outlay budget:

$10,000 Street Lighting Plan

$20,000 Locomotive Park Upgrade

$15,000 Pickup Truck with a two-year plan

$45,000 Land Exchange with MIB School District w/City in-kind services

$90,000 TOTAL

Councilor Roskoski suggested that the City complete as many projects as possible utilizing the City Staff.

The City Administrator suggested that City Staff look through the capital improvement projects list and make an overall composition for all the requests and have the City Council reviewed and prioritize the list for the next regular meeting. 

Councilor Irish requested that the salary amounts for City Council members be reviewed. He requested that a list be developed including the following: the city, the population, the salary amounts, and amount paid for attending extra meetings. 

At 8:53 p.m., it was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson that the meeting be adjourned. The motion carried.

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