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City of Mountain Iron, Minnesota



Meeting Minutes for January 03, 2006

MOUNTAIN IRON CITY COUNCIL

REORGANIZATIONAL MEETING

JANUARY 3, 2006

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; Tom Cvar, Fire Chief; Steve Norvitch, Assistant Fire Chief; and Rod Flannigan, City Engineer (entering at 6:45 p.m.).

The Mayor welcomed the audience members present and the MediaCom viewing audience.

The Mayor opened the meeting by stating that this meeting marks his fourth year that he has served the City as Mayor. He stated that it has been an honor and a privilege to serve the City of Mountain Iron. The Mayor reviewed the previous three years. He stated that the financial condition of the City is sound considering the loss of local government aid funds. He said that he views 2006 as a good year for the City, with the 1950 Carnegie library being renovated and the project being completed by the end of the 2006. He said that there have been some updates and modernization to Locomotive Park, along with it being designated as a Trail Head for the Mesabi Trail. He said that the City received notification of a TEA 21 federal enhancement grant for the downtown area for streetscape and vintage lighting, but the funding would not be available until 2007. In the South Grove area, with the playground equipment would be upgraded, the work would be completed in 2006, with a portion of the funding for the playground equipment coming from a grant from Saint Louis County in the amount of $20,000. The Economic Development Authority has been working actively on economic development projects with some projects on the horizon. He also said that the City Council has adopted a resolution for a purchase agreement with the Mountain Iron-Buhl School District, so the City can continue to develop the area west of Unity Addition. The Mayor also stated that the Council is quite a diverse group and he requested that the Council refrain from personnel attacks and stick to the facts. The Mayor requested the Council to have a positive and productive meeting.

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

Approve the minutes of the December 19, 2005, City Council meeting as submitted.

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 16-31, 2005, totaling $562,810.61, (a list is attached and made a part of these minutes).

To authorize the payments of the bills and payroll for the period December 16-31, 2005, totaling $410,814.15, (a list is attached and made a part of these minutes).

The motion carried unanimously on a roll call vote.

No one spoke during the public forum.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to appoint Allen Nelson as Deputy Mayor for 2006. The motion carried.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to appoint Sam Aluni, The Trenti Law Firm, as the City Attorney for 2006. It was moved by Irish and supported by Roskoski to amend the motion to add Larry C. Minton for personnel and contract legal issues. The amendment to the motion failed with Nelson, Prebeg and Skalko voting no. The motion carried with Irish and Roskoski voting no.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Nelson to appoint Rod Flannigan, Benchmark Engineering, as the City�s Engineer for 2006. The motion carried.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to appoint the Mesabi Daily News as the official newspaper for the City of Mountain Iron for 2006. The motion carried.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Nelson to set the official meeting times for the regular City Council meetings at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of the month for 2006. The motion carried

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to designate the City�s official depositories as the American Bank, Queen City Federal, Wells Fargo Bank, U. S. Bank, Twin City Federal, League of Minnesota Cities 4M Fund, Miller Johnson Steichen Kinnard, Inc., Smith Barney, Inc., Northland Securities, and First National Bank of Buhl for 2006. The motion carried.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Roskoski to re-appoint Ray Saari, Steve Giorgi, and Margaret Soyring to the Planning and Zoning Commission with their terms expiring on December 31, 2008; and, Joe Matanich and Sue Tuomela to the Utility Advisory Board with their terms expiring on December 31, 2008; and, Jerry Kujala and Dennis Benz to the Parks and Recreation Board with their terms expiring on December 31, 2008; and, Bob Voss to the Economic Development Authority with his term expiring on December 31, 2010. The motion carried.

The Mayor informed the Council that the next Labor-Management meeting would be held on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 2:00 p.m.

The Mayor informed the Council that he was invited to a Mayors� luncheon with Representative Oberstar on January 12, 2006 at 1:00 p.m. in Virginia.

The Mayor clarified the process involved in obtaining grants for the Mountain Iron Public Library. He stated that the City received two grants for the library renovation project. The first grant was a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through Saint Louis County in the amount of $50,000. He said this grant was federal money distributed through Saint Louis County. The City Council made a resolution approving the CDBG application; then it went to the Library Board; then the City Administrator wrote the grant; then the application went to the CDBG Director for approval; then to a Citizen�s Advisory Board for approval; then the Saint Louis County Board for approval; and then the application went to Washington, D.C. to get the approval of HUD. The Mayor said that this is a very complex process and it involves numerous individuals and agencies. The Mayor stated that the second grant that the City received for the library renovation was a State ADA Grant for $113,500; again this grant had to go through the same steps as the previously outlined grant application and also hold a public hearing and have the Arrowhead Library System officials sign off on the grant application. 

The Mayor updated the Council and stated that when the City of Mountain Iron annexed Nichols Township in 1972, Merritt Industrial Park was zoned Industrial. The Ann�s Acres Addition was developed in the early to mid 1960�s and the area to the east was already zoned Industrial when Mr. Kintner developed the Ann�s Acres housing addition. The Mayor pointed this out due to the recent blight complaints.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to make a directive to the Library Board to begin prioritizing their wants (carpeting, air conditioning, etc.) to complete the library renovation project. After further discussion, Skalko amended the motion and Prebeg supported the amendment to add to make a recommendation regarding colors and types. The amended motion carried.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to approve the amendment to the Surface Lease 13304 for a one year extension of the lease for the rock sign located on the northwest corner of Highway 53 and Old Highway 169 in the amount of $150.00 for 2006, (a copy is attached and made a part of these minutes). The motion carried unanimously on a roll call vote.

Councilor Roskoski asked the City Administrator why a hydraulic excavator was working across from the General Electric Offices off of Mineral Avenue. The City Administrator said that a potential developer was completing some soil testing in the area. The City Administrator stated that the City was not paying for this testing.

Councilor Roskoski asked the Director of Public Works what the process was for the City to pick up pallets and wooden crates from Mountain Iron businesses. The Director of Public Works stated that the City Refuse Department picks up pallets every Thursday at no charge to the businesses. The Director of Public Works said that the Utility Advisory Board was currently reviewing the situation to determine if the collection should continue. 

The Recreation Director reported that the warm weather has been a problem with the quality of the skating rinks. 

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to refer the Fire Department Officer�s wage increase proposal to the Personnel Committee for review and a recommendation. The motion carried.

The Fire Chief informed the Council that the NIMS Training would be held on Monday, January 9, 2006 at 6:00 p.m. He said that he highly recommends that all City Council, all Management Staff, and the Municipal Services Secretary attend the training to fulfill the requirements for the training.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to accept the Memorandum of Understanding between AFSCME Local 453 and the City of Mountain Iron, (a copy is attached and made a part of these minutes). It was moved by Irish and supported by Roskoski to amend the motion to send the Memorandum of Understanding back to the City Attorney for clarification to see if a conflict of interest exists. The amendment to the motion failed with Nelson, Prebeg and Skalko voting no. The motion carried with Roskoski and Irish voting no.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson to approve the WWTP Operator Job analysis, (a copy is attached and made a part of these minutes), and authorize the Personnel Committee to begin the hiring process and bring a recommendation back to the City Council for final approval.

At 7:58 p.m., the Mayor called a recess.

At 8:02 p.m., the Mayor reconvened the meeting.

The motion carried with Roskoski and Irish voting no.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Skalko to direct City Staff to look into possible grant funding and other resources to maintain the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The motion carried.

Councilor Roskoski brought up the Johnson area blight situation. Mr. Wilbert Johnson, 5621 Nichols Avenue, was present and stated that he would relax his complaint until Spring. Councilor Roskoski questioned whether running a business at 5619 Nichols Avenue would be a violation of the Zoning Ordinance. The Council directed the Blight Officer to check with the Zoning Administrator to check the setback for a building located at 5619 Nichols Avenue and a business being operated there.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Skalko to reschedule the next regular meeting to January 23, 2006 at 6:30 p.m. The motion carried.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Irish to contribute $100 to the Mountain Iron-Buhl High School, Class of 2006 All Night Chemical Free Graduation Party. The motion carried.

The Council discussed the taping of the Council meetings. The Recreation Director informed the Council that the Cable TV Commission would be meeting on January 6th to discuss the taping of the City Council meetings. 

It was moved by Roskoski and supported by Nelson, that because of the lack of a crosswalk over the two Canadian National railroad tracks, the sidewalk addition along Unity Drive by Duane�s Marine be forwarded to the Street and Alley Committee for review and a possible recommendation on how to proceed. The motion carried.

The Mayor asked if a meeting had been set up with the City of Virginia to discuss 16th Avenue. The City Administrator said that Virginia Officials have been contacted, but no meeting was set. The Mayor reminded City Staff that the Street and Alley Committee are to review the proposed street assessment rates, 16th Avenue, a street sign request in Kinross, a speed limit sign on Enterprise Drive North, and 2006 street improvement projects.

The Council reviewed the list of communications. Councilor Prebeg asked why Councilor Irish had contacted Attorney Minton. The Mayor stated that he had given Councilor Irish permission to speak to Attorney Minton. Councilor Prebeg asked if Councilor Irish had permission to request an opinion and review of documentation from Attorney Minton. Councilor Prebeg stated that a motion regarding the matter would be coming forth. Councilor Irish felt that the Personnel Committee should have contacted the lawyer regarding the recent retirement benefits of an employee, as this would have saved the City a considerable amount of money.

During the open discussion, Councilor Roskoski had a handout prepared by the League of Minnesota Cities he furnished to the City Council regarding what the Council can and can�t do.

The Mayor advised the Council that the Council Members need to remain objective and not be so negative by looking for things going wrong.

At 8:34 p.m., it was moved by Roskoski and supported by Skalko that the meeting be adjourned. The motion carried.

COMMUNICATIONS

Larry C. Minton, of the Law Offices of Larry C. Minton, Ltd., a letter to Mayor Skalko concerning the telephone conversation he had with Councilor Irish.

Kate Brady, Site Coordinator for TechNorth Prep Center Network, a letter to Mayor Skalko concerning the Get Broadband Community Grant program and requesting support from the City.

Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, December 22, 2005 memo.

Councilor Dale Irish, a letter to Mayor Skalko clarifying his actions at the last City Council meeting.

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