The Taconite Capital of the World

City of Mountain Iron, Minnesota



Meeting Minutes for December 19, 2005

MOUNTAIN IRON CITY COUNCIL

DECEMBER 19, 2005

Mayor Skalko called the City Council 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; Jill M. Forseen, Municipal Services Secretary; Don Kleinschmidt, Director of Public Works; Larry Nanti, Recreation Director; Joe Stewart, Sergeant; Sam Aluni, City Attorney; and Rod Flannigan (entering at 6:31 p.m.)

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

Add/move the following items on the agenda:

Add:

IV. A. 3. Retirement-Librarian

V. C. ATV Funding

Move:

V. B. Early Retirement Agreement to IV. A. 4.

Approve the minutes of the December 5, 2005, City Council meeting as submitted.

Approve the minutes of the November 28, 2005, Committee-of-the-Whole meeting with the following correction:

Page 4, paragraph 8, “��.Councilor Prebeg felt that this may cost about $60,000 plus including in-kind services�.”

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

To acknowledge the receipts for the period December 1-15, 2005, totaling $663,624.62, (a list is attached and made a part of these minutes).

To authorize the payments of the bills and payroll for the period December 1-15, 2005, totaling $406,436.41, (a list is attached and made a part of these minutes).

The motion carried on the following roll call vote: Prebeg, yes; Nelson; yes; Irish, no; Roskoski, yes; and Skalko, yes.

Wilbert Johnson, 5521 Nichols Avenue, Mountain Iron, stated that Councilor Roskoski has bad mouthed the Council for not taking care of the blight matter at P & H MinePro. He said that he recalled that in May of 2005 it was on the agenda to pass a new blight ordinance for the City of Mountain Iron and Councilor Roskoski wanted to nit pick the ordinance and it still has not passed. Mr. Johnson said that Councilor Roskoski is only concerned with the blight issue in his area, not the blight issue by his property. Councilor Roskoski said that was not true. Councilor Roskoski said that the Blight Committee was working on the Ordinance and somehow it was found that the City Ordinance as stated was sufficient. Councilor Prebeg said that the City has gone through all of the procedures complying with the law as it pertains to the City. Mr. Johnson stated that he still has a building four feet from his property line. The Mayor asked the Blight Officer to look into the matter. The Blight Officer stated that he would advise the Zoning Administrator.

The Mayor stated that he has been contacted regarding some concerns regarding the Christmas decorations in the Downtown Area and Parkville. The Mayor said that it is a two year program for 2005 and 2006 to have all areas of the City receive new Christmas decorations. 

The Mayor also outlined a letter received from Nancy Larson regarding the CDBG Program. The Mayor stated that the City of Mountain Iron had received funding from CDBG for the Library. He stated that this is federal funding and is distributed through Saint Louis County. He said that the funding had been cut by ten percent for this year and they are also facing cuts for 2006. The Mayor said that Citizens and City Council members should be contacting the legislators requesting that no further cuts be made to the CDBG program.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to accept the resignation of Jennifer Overbye from the Parks and Recreation Board and Carol Kostich from the Library Board effective on December 31, 2005. The motion carried.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to direct City Staff to advertise for the open positions on the Utility Advisory Board, the Parks and Recreation Board, and the Library Board advertising in the Mesabi Daily News, two times, between December 26, 2005 through January 5, 2006, with the Council filling the positions at their second meeting in January. The motion carried.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to set the next Labor/Management meeting for Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. The motion carried with Roskoski voting no.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Nelson to accept the retirement of Karen Luoma as the City�s Librarian effective March 31, 2006 forwarding her the usual thank you letter, plaque and retirement package. The motion carried.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to direct the Library Board to set up the criteria for the Library Director position and advertise for the position. After further discussion, Mayor Skalko amended his motion to refer the Library Board recommendation to the Personnel Committee and then have the Personnel Committee make a recommendation to the Council prior to the position being advertised. Councilor Prebeg supported the amendment. The motion carried.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Nelson to refer the early retirement agreement back to the Personnel Committee and invite Attorney Aluni and Union Representative Giorgi to attend the Personnel Committee meeting and hold the meeting as soon as possible. The motion carried.

Councilor Irish questioned the Mayor regarding a meeting with Saint Louis County Commissioner Nelson regarding the Outdoor Recreation Grant whether the grant could be used for non-motorized trails. Councilor Irish asked the Mayor what the purpose and outcome of that meeting was. The Mayor advised the Council that he wanted to know what the grant could be used for and the Mayor stated that, in his interpretation, the grant could be used for motorized and non-motorized trails. Councilor Irish asked the Mayor if he met with U. S. Steel Officials and what the purpose and outcome of the meeting was. The Mayor stated that he wished Councilor Irish had as much enthusiasm for economic development that he has for an ATV Trail. The Mayor stated that Councilor Irish is obsessed with the ATV Trail. The Mayor stated that he spoke with the DNR, RGGS, Minntac, and other officials regarding the ATV Project. The Mayor said that he has looked into the liability to the City with regard to the ATV Trails, he said that the trails are owned by the State due to the liability concerns. The Mayor stated that there has been $40,000 allocated in the City�s budget for Phase I of the ATV Trail and the Council does not even know what Phase I involves. Councilor Irish stated that he has been appointed by the City Council to work on the ATV Trails and the Mayor is going around having these private meetings with individuals about the trail. Mayor Skalko asked the City Attorney if he has the right to meet with individuals and discuss these things as they pertain to the City. The City Attorney stated that he could do this. 

The Mayor asked if the City Administrator had set up a meeting with the City of Virginia with regard to 16th Avenue. The City Administrator said that he was not able to establish a date that worked with the City of Virginia. Councilor Irish requested that a meeting of the Mountain Iron Street and Alley Committee be set up prior to the meeting with the City of Virginia. 

Councilor Irish requested that the City Administrator put together the information regarding the railroad right-of-way sale in Parkville Addition including the amount paid by each land owner.

Councilor Irish also questioned the City Administrator regarding the USDA Library check presentation. He said that the letter sent to the Council had the wrong date on it.

Councilor Roskoski asked the City Administrator if the letter was sent to the residents that are not in compliance with the sump pump ordinance. He requested that a copy of the letter be forwarded to the Council.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson to approve the two year Minnesota Power training agreement in the amount of $5,400, (a copy is attached and made a part of these minutes). The motion carried.

Councilor Irish questioned the Director of Public Works regarding the street lighting on Heron Street and Falcon Avenue in Parkville. The Director of Public Works said that this has not been brought to the Utility Advisory Board (UAB) yet. Councilor Irish asked if the UAB recommended disconnecting the lights. The Director of Public Works stated that the Utility Advisory Board did not make a recommendation to disconnect the lights; they were disconnected when the area was vacated. The Director of Public Works stated that the Council sent the request to reconnect the lights to the UAB for a recommendation. 

Councilor Irish asked the Director of Public Works for a copy of the permit for the reducing station for the gas line on Grant Street.

Councilor Roskoski asked the Director of Public Works about who owns the barricades on the abandoned streets in Parkville. The Director of Public Works stated some of the barricades are the City�s and some are U. S. Steel�s. He further stated that U.S. Steel would have to place signage on the abandoned streets because it is there property.

It was moved by Roskoski and supported by Skalko to accept the recommendation of the Recreation Director and authorize the purchase of the equipment for the South Grove Playground equipment in 2005 from Earl F. Anderson through the Northeast Service Cooperative for $36,378.15 as approved by the South Grove Group. The motion carried unanimously on a roll call vote.

Councilor Roskoski questioned the Recreation Director regarding the Parks and Recreation Board meeting with the Merritt Days Committee on January 18, 2006. The Recreation Director said that the Downtown Group would also be meeting with the Parks and Recreation Board on January 18th. Councilor Prebeg questioned if the amount that was appropriated to the Merritt Days Committee needed to be clarified. It was the consensus of the Council that the total allocation for the Merritt Days Celebration was $8,000 total. 

The Council reviewed the November 2005 Sheriff�s Department Activity.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Skalko to refer the request for signage on Ostman Road and Otto Road to the Street and Alley Committee and the Sheriff�s Department. The motion carried.

Councilor Roskoski said that they met with Canadian National Officials a few weeks ago regarding the proposed “Quiet Zone” and he asked the City Engineer how much it would cost in engineering fees to develop a scope of the project and seeking grant funds. The City Engineer stated that there was not any grant funding available for the project. The Mayor felt that Mountain Iron should not proceed to work on the project unless Virginia and Saint Louis County agree to work jointly on the project. The Mayor requested residents that are concerned with the railroad horn blowing to contact him and express their concerns.

The City Attorney updated the City Council regarding the P & H MinePro blight issue.

It was moved Skalko and supported by Irish to direct the City Engineer to complete a noise analysis on the property of the residents that had signed the blight complaint against P & H MinePro. The motion carried.

The Mayor said that he was approached by an individual from the Cemetery Association regarding purchasing the city�s truck that would be for sale. The City Attorney stated that the truck should go out on bids. The City Attorney advised the Council that he spoke with the Virginia City Attorney, Tom Butorac, regarding the City funding cemetery operations. The City Attorney said that there is a State Statute regarding the City spending money to operate, maintain, and fund cemetery operations. 

Councilor Roskoski stated that P & H MinePro is still doing the same things on their property. He said that they were sand blasting outside and there was a cloud of dust, paint, and grease going into the air. He also said that P & H MinePro was dumping things on their property that should not be dumped there.

Councilor Roskoski updated the Council regarding the progress on the Library renovation. He said that he spoke with a representative from Lenci Enterprises and he advised him that the Library building is a very solid structure considering how old the building is. 

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Skalko to have the City of Mountain Iron work with the Mountain Iron-Buhl School District to purchase required acreage to obtain the land west of Unity Addition for the purchase price of $60,000 and that the City can work with the School to buy down the purchase price by providing in-kind services and authorize the City Staff to prepare the purchase agreement. The motion carried unanimously on a roll call vote.

It was moved by Irish and Roskoski to have the trail system, including the grant, be a carryover from 2005 in the amount of $25,497 and the grant of $47,353 for the 2006 budget. The motion failed with Councilor Prebeg, Councilor Nelson and Mayor Skalko voting no.

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg to adopt Resolution Number 43-05, approving amendment to development agreement, (a copy is attached and made a part of these minutes). The motion carried with Councilor Roskoski voting no.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Skalko to adopt Resolution Number 44-05, approving sub-zone modifications and authorizing tax exemptions, (a copy is attached and made a part of these minutes). The motion carried.

It was moved by Irish and supported by Roskoski to adopt Resolution Number 45-05 amending the construction amount to $163,580. After further discussion, the motion was amended to table the resolution until the next regular meeting. The motion carried.

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg to take Resolution Number 45-05, guaranteeing local share of construction costs and ongoing maintenance, off the table and reintroduce it and adopt it as written, (a copy is attached and made a part of these minutes). The motion carried with Councilor Irish voting no.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to adopt Resolution Number 46-05, guaranteeing local share of construction costs and ongoing maintenance, (a copy is attached and made a part of these minutes). The motion carried.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson to have the Personnel Committee develop the hiring criteria, advertise externally for the water/wastewater treatment plant operator position and make a hiring recommendation back to the City Council. After further discussion, Councilor Prebeg amended his motion to update the job description and come back to the City Council for review. Councilor Nelson supported the amendment. The motion carried with Councilors Roskoski and Irish voting no.

It was moved by Irish and supported by Roskoski that the City Council remains neutral regarding the slow down ruling issue in Orr. The motion carried with Councilor Nelson voting no.

It was moved by Roskoski and supported by Skalko to reschedule the next regular Council meeting to January 3, 2006 at 6:30 p.m. and reschedule the January 16th meeting to January 18, 2006 at 6:30 p.m. due to the holidays. The motion carried.

The Council reviewed the list of communications. It was the consensus of the Council to have the request for a donation for the Annual All-Night Chemical Free Graduation Party for the Mountain Iron-Buhl Class of 2006 on the next agenda.

During the open discussion, Councilor Irish asked the City Attorney as to the limitation to public relations, use of their title, attending meetings, and discussing issues. The City Attorney said that the Council should use common sense and each issue would be on a case by case basis. The City Attorney suggested the Council reading the League of Minnesota Cities Handbook for additional information. The Mayor asked, as an individual, if he can endorse an individual for political office. The City Attorney stated that he could. The Mayor asked, as the Mayor, if it was appropriate to meet with other City Mayors and Officials regarding City business. The City Attorney stated that the Mayor could meet with these officials. 

Also during the open discussion, Council Irish felt that whoever allowed or requested the identity of two private family parties, along with profanity, should be made public and caught up in a personal conflict is being disrespectful to all community members. Councilor Irish said that those identities and the language should have been omitted from the list of communications. The Mayor said that he received a letter address to the Mayor from John Roskoski and he included in the Council packet because it was signed communications. The Mayor also stated that he took the letter as a threat. The Mayor stated that this is public information and the City Attorney agreed.

At 8:39 p.m., it was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg that the meeting be adjourned. The motion carried.

COMMUNICATIONS

Mountain Iron-Buhl High School, requesting a donation to the 19th Annual All-Night Chemical Free Graduation Party for the Class of 2006.

Kathleen Murray, Foundation Director, a thank you on behalf of the VRMC Foundation and the Festival of Trees Committee, for reducing the room rental fee for the use of the Community Center.

John Roskoski, a copy of a letter dated December 4, 2005 written to Mayor Skalko.

John Roskoski, a copy of a letter dated December 8, 2005 written to Mayor Skalko.

Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, forwarding the December 8, 2005 Brief.

Minnesota Association of Small Cities, forwarding the December 12, 2005 update.

Range Association of Municipalities and Schools, looking for interested elected officials to be considered for a board position.

Range Association of Municipalities and Schools, notice of the annual meeting scheduled for February 3, 2006 in Hibbing.

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