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City of Mountain Iron, Minnesota



Meeting Minutes for May 19, 2003

MOUNTAIN IRON CITY COUNCIL

MAY 19, 2003

Mayor Skalko called the City Council meeting to order at 6:28 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; Larry Nanti, Director of Parks and Recreation; Don Kleinschmidt, Director of Public Works; Sam Aluni, City Attorney and Rod Flannigan, City Engineer.

Irish wanted the City Attorney�s opinion and clarification concerning the minutes of the May 5, 2003 Council meeting, which includes resolutions that are being presented to the City Council and placed in the public agenda. He believed there may be an error in placing Resolution 15-03, A & B which was 8-03 on the agenda which is an exhibit and part of documentation that was to remain confidential. He believed that whoever placed these resolutions on the agenda was in error and possibly in violation of personal and confidential information and may have possibly placed the City at risk. He believed that if a resolution is to be open for discussion and voted on, then all information related to the issue being kept confidential should have been made open to the public. The City Attorney asked for an opportunity to respond to Irish. 

Irish also questioned the City Attorney on whether any information was available with regards to the motion at the April 21, 2003 meeting instructing 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. The City Attorney stated that the information was not yet available. 

It was moved by Irish and supported by Roskoski that the consent agenda be approved as follows:

Add the following items to the agenda:

IV. A. Mayor�s Report: 

1. Bon-Air Clean-up Proposal

2. Formal Resolution for a Thank You to Commissioner Keith Nelson

3. South Grove Tennis Courts

4. Brown�s (Nikunen) Road Entrance

5. Closed Meeting Request

V. Unfinished Business: 

D. Grant application procedure

E. Mesabi Trail 

Approve the minutes of the April 22, 2003 Board of Review Meeting as submitted.

Approve the minutes of the May 5, 2003 Board of Review Meeting as submitted.

Approve the minutes of the May 5, 2003 Trail Alignment Public Hearing 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 May 1-15, 2003, totaling $96,194.82, (a list is attached and made a part of these minutes).

To authorize the payment of the bills and payroll for the period May 1-15, 2003, totaling $229,264.49, (a list is attached and made a part of these minutes).

Irish questioned the payment of some of the bills approved at the May 5, 2003 meeting. The motion carried on a roll call vote, with Prebeg and Nelson voting no.

At 6:42 p.m., it was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg to recess the regular Council meeting and open the Public Hearing on Improvement. The motion carried.

The City Administrator stated that the public hearing was concerning the proposed improvement of Unity Drive. Discussion took place concerning notification to property owners of the public hearing, what kind of road will it be and how much traffic is expected to go through the area. The Director of Public Works stated that it would be a gravel road and be maintained as a gravel road for dust control. Presently it will be just coming from the South Grove way. The Mayor stated that Resolution 19-03 concerning this matter is to be voted on later during the meeting. Tom Schlotec, Mesabi Land Company, wanted to know if this could be voted on at this Council meeting, if the property has not been acquired. The City Administrator stated the resolution was ordering the improvement and preparation of plans. The City Attorney stated he saw no reason not to go ahead and approve the resolution tonight. The matter of ownership with the Nikolancis is to be resolved. The Mayor stated that the Nikolancis were to be invited to attend this meeting. A list of reasonable assessment amounts was given by the City Administrator to the Council and members of the audience requesting it.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson to adjourn the public hearing and reconvene the City Council meeting at 6:53 p.m. The motion carried.

The Mayor reported on the Bon-Air cleanup. He talked to Keith Nelson, County Commissioner and was advised that at this time, the County has no problem with cleanup of this site. The Commissioner suggested that the City contact Joe Zebro, St. Louis County Sheriff Deputy and Gordon Coldagelli, County Attorney, before the City proceeded to clean up the area. The Mayor stated that he was given permission from Mr. Coldagelli. Roskoski suggested that staff contact the low bidder and ask if they will honor that price. Roskoski stated that the City could work with the lowest quote and then proceed up the line. 

It was moved by Irish and supported by Roskoski to accept the low bids and go in order to the next one available to clean up the Bon-Air site. Steve Skogman, St. Louis County Deputy Sheriff, spoke and stated that the information to Coldagelli was incorrect. The City has no right to tamper with evidence at the site. No one is charged for the crime yet. The Council will be at fault if evidence is tampered with and the accused cannot examine the evidence. If they cannot examine it, then the accused is released. The County has gathered evidence, but the accused has not been allowed to examine. Prebeg asked for a legal opinion from the City Attorney. The City Attorney stated that this is the County�s official position if it is from County Attorney Coldagelli. Prebeg stated that the City should contact Joe Zebro and not take action until he is contacted for his opinion. The motion carried on a roll call vote with Nelson and Prebeg voting no.

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to send a letter to County Commissioner, Keith Nelson to thank him for his help on cleaning up the Bon-Air site. The motion carried, with Nelson voting no.

The Director of Parks and Recreation reported on the South Grove tennis courts. He stated that they were identified for repair at the August, 2002 budget meeting but were subsequently removed from the 2002 capital outlay budget. The cost for improvement was estimated at $10,000. They were damaged more than was originally thought. Current quotes on repairs are now estimated to be between $8,000 and $10,000. The contractors contacted stated they would have to actually look at the courts for a firm quote on the necessary repairs. Mayor Skalko stated that the courts are unsafe and are not usable. 

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Prebeg to get a firm quote on the necessary repairs to the South Grove tennis courts. The motion carried.

The Mayor started a discussion concerning an entrance road to Highway 169 from the Kinross area. The Director of Public Works stated that in 2001 the City Council requested the Minnesota Department of Transportation for an access onto Highway 169, at end of Brown�s road or one at end of Giorgi Road. At the end of 2001, the Minnesota Department of Transportation replied that Giorgi Road would be the best location for an entrance onto Highway 169 and they would allow the City to construct an entrance and included in their letter how they wanted the intersection developed. A preliminary cost estimate on the intersection construction was given to the City Council and the Street Committee. Staff cannot find the cost estimate, but will further investigate. The Director of Public Works stated that the City never received anything from the Minnesota Department of Transportation indicating they would contribute to the cost of the intersection. Mayor Skalko stated that Jerry Kujala told him that if City had done it last spring, the Minnesota Department of Transportation would pay for part of it. David Buria, resident of Streetcar Road, stated that he talked to many City officials and all said they would do something about it. All he is asking for is a dirt road to get out to Highway 169. He is waiting for action on what the Council is going to do. He stated that he is paying taxes for nothing. 

It was moved by Roskoski and supported by Irish to have staff gather all available information on file and obtain information from the Minnesota Department of Transportation on the proposed access through Jerry Kujala to see if they would fund part of it for the June 2, 2003 meeting. The motion carried.

The Mayor reported that he had obtained the Larry Minton Law Firm of Hibbing as independent council per the Council motion at the May 5, 2003 meeting. 

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Irish to have a closed meeting at the Mountain Iron City Hall on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 at 5:30 p.m., with independent council, Larry Minton, for the purpose of discussing the preliminary consideration of allegations of charges of misconduct by an individual with city employment. Steve Giorgi, AFSCME union representative, asked if the Council held a prior closed meeting on this subject. He stated that this would clearly be a violation of the open meeting law. Irish stated that this meeting would be a continuation of the meeting held on May 1, 2003. Mr. Giorgi stated the accused employee has to be notified and they determine if the meeting is to be closed or not. The Council is compounding the problem by scheduling a second meeting. The City Attorney had to recuse himself from stating an opinion, due to the contents of the special closed meeting. Further discussion between Mr. Giorgi and Irish took place concerning violations of the open meeting law. The motion was rescinded by Skalko and support was withdrawn by Irish until legal advice is sought.

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson to allow the Accounting Technician to attend a PERA seminar in Duluth on May 21, 2003. The motion carried.

The Mayor asked the City Administrator how many lots in the Mashkenode addition have been sold. He stated that a private developer owns the property and the City has no current information on sales. There were 35-40 lots were available.

The City Administrator stated that whenever a property is transferred or refinanced, requests for special assessment searches are received. Multiple notices requesting information on special assessments have been received. This takes staff time and he is suggesting establishing a fee for the service. The City Administrator recommended a minimum of $10 per request. Irish stated that the City should go with minimum average of $15 per search. It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson to adopt a fee of $10 per request for assessment searches. The motion carried unanimously on a roll call vote. 

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg to adopt the Customer Service Standards, (a copy of which is hereby attached and made a part of these minutes). The motion carried.

The paint samples for the water tower were reviewed by the Council. 

It was moved by Roskoski and supported by Nelson to accept the colors presented for the water storage tanks. The motion carried.

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg to accept the staff recommendation and authorize the purchase of two water distribution hydrants and accessories from National Water Works at their low quoted price of $6,233.55. The motion carried unanimously on a roll call vote. 

Staff recommends adding $2000 to the temporary summer labor budget in the street department to fully fund four temporary part-time positions in the street department. 

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson to increase the summer labor budget by $2000 to fully fund four temporary part-time positions in the Street Department. The motion was amended by Prebeg to state that staff will determine where the funding comes from, with support by Nelson. The motion carried on a roll call vote with Irish and Roskoski voting no. 

The Director of Public Works stated that the sump pump letters would be going out this week.

The Director of Parks and Recreation requested permission for advertising in the Summer Visitor. A half page ad is $275. A quarter page is $170. 

It was moved by Prebeg and supported by Nelson to purchase a quarter page ad in the Summer Visitor Guide for $170. During discussion, Irish stated that the City should reduce the ad to one-eighth page and save some money. The motion carried on a roll call vote with Roskoski and Irish voting no. Roskoski reported that the Street and Alley Committee recommends allowing the request from Jerry Kujala for parking ordinance revisions. 

Discussion took place concerning the makeup of all City committees and notification of committee meetings. The City Administrator stated that all members of committees must be informed of meetings. Proper notice must be given in order to comply with the open meeting laws. Mayor Skalko suggested setting up a Street Committee meeting to come back with a recommendation concerning Mr. Kujala�s requests. Mr. Kujala�s requests will be delayed until the June 2, 2003 meeting. Roskoski wanted to make it clear that all Committees must follow the same procedures. The City Attorney stated that committees of the City are subject to the open meeting law. All members of committees must be notified of meetings as well as a public notice posted. Discussion took place between Steve Skogman and Roskoski as to whether the issue of Mr. Kujala�s requests should go to the Street Committee or the Traffic Committee.

Roskoski stated that East Locomotive Street is in need of an overlay in order for it to be used as a trail. Bob Manzoline of the Regional Rail Authority would like action taken on the needed repairs. Irish suggested that the City start the process of having the engineer looking at the street and having bids and specs drawn up. 

At 8:08 p.m., Councilor Prebeg left the meeting.

The Director of Public Works asked if the Mesabi Trail was going to pay for the street. If not, then procedures need to be followed in order to repair the street. Reconstruction of the street would mean assessment to property owners. It was the concensus of the Council to send this issue back to the Street Committee for recommendation. 

It was moved by Roskoski and supported by Irish to have Benchmark Engineering look at Locomotive Street for a recommendation. The motion carried with Prebeg absent.

At 8:12 p.m., Councilor Prebeg returned to the meeting.

At 8:13 p.m., Councilor Roskoski left the meeting.

Jerry Wotczak, Emergency Management Administrator from St. Louis County was present to address the Council on their concerns for emergency management. 

At 8:15 p.m., Councilor Roskoski returned to the meeting.

Irish stated that his main concern is there is no air raid siren in the City. He wanted to be aware of the procedures in place for warning the public in an emergency.

At 8:17 p.m., Mayor Skalko left the meeting. 

Mr. Wotzak reported that sirens are expensive to buy, operate and maintain. The City needs to make a decision on their use. It is not mandatory for the City to have a siren. Last year, the County received a grant for a NOAH weather repeater system that is a tone-activated radio that will warn for weather or other incidents through the radio.

At 8:19 p.m., Mayor Skalko returned to the meeting.

Mr. Wotzak reported that every government subdivision is required by state law to have an emergency management manager, procedures and committee. Irish stated that Mr. Wotzak has been very helpful. He asked if the emergency management managers are usually city employees or fire department employees. Mr. Wotzak stated the City would designate officials and their responsibilities. He also stated that grants available for specific items related to emergency management and training are available through the State division of emergency management. Mr. Wotzak provided a handbook for government officials to the Council. 

Mayor Skalko asked if the volunteer status of Jerry Kujala for the time period of June 4-July 15, 2003 was legal. He was concerned that if he gets hurt doing his job is he still covered for liability. The City Attorney stated that he can be a volunteer and will be covered under city policy. Skalko asked if the Council should open up the position now. Nelson stated that the matter was taken care of at the last meeting, except for posting for applications. Roskoski had questions on retaining Kujala for the position. 

It was moved by Irish and supported by Skalko that the City advertises an opening for the Zoning Administrator position until the June 16, 2003 meeting. The motion carried with Roskoski voting no.

Roskoski asked if any costs are to be assessed to future property holders in the Park Ridge Development. Nelson stated that if anybody is to be assessed it would be the Housing and Redevelopment Authority. 

It was moved by Roskoski that the City start the process as per policy on assessing on all street improvements in the Park Ridge Development area. The motion failed for lack of support. Larry Johnson suggested a deferred assessment; once there is an occupant for the lot then they would be assessed the costs. Irish stated that Mr. Walsh from the IRRRA also suggested that. 

Councilor Irish discussed the grant application procedure. He asked if John Fedo was contacted concerning the grant application proposals pertaining to the library grant. 

The City Administrator stated that he was contacted, but no correspondence was received from him. 

Roskoski stated that the Mesabi Trail is going to go potentially around the edge of downtown. Bob Manzoline asked Roskoski who had control of the dirt street. The Public Works Director stated he didn�t know if the City had any easements on it, but the City has maintained it for many years. The street is identified as a public right of way. The City needs a plan for what Mr. Manzoline wants to do with the trail in the area in order to see what the City needs to do there. Mayor Skalko suggested that Mr. Manzoline be invited to attend the next Streets Committee meeting. Roskoski stated that City Engineer needs to do research on the street. 

It was moved by Roskoski and supported by Irish that Benchmark Engineering find out where the street is aligned and make a map of where it is, it�s width and the ownership of the property. The City Engineer reported he would have the information by next week. The motion carried with Nelson voting no. 

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg to adopt Resolution 19-03 ordering improvement and preparation of plans (a copy of which is attached and made a part of these minutes). Irish asked if the petition was initiated by Mesabi Land Company. Mr. Scholtec stated that it was. Irish wanted to know if this was considered a commercial development or a residential area. The City Attorney stated that the area is zoned residential and was an undeveloped property at the time of the petition. Irish asked if any residents were notified of the public hearing and in attendance at the public hearing before this meeting. Mr. Schlotec stated there was one. Roskoski questioned the percentage of assessed costs to the adjoining property owners. The motion carried with Roskoski and Irish voting no.

Discussion took place concerning the proposal from Rick Vidmar to become the City Assessor. Skalko stated that his biggest concern in going with a private individual versus the County is a private individual could not do the entire city in a year and could only do one/third of the City per year. Larry Johnson made the comment that he didn�t think Mr. Vidmar had the necessary background for commercial properties. 

It was moved by Irish and supported by Skalko to stay with St. Louis County for assessing duties. The motion carried with Roskoski voting no. 

Roskoski asked if we had received a County fee schedule. He was informed that the information was presented at the last meeting. 

It was the concensus of the Council to have the City Administrator contact the firms that submitted proposals for grant writing services to appear at the June 2, 2003 meeting. 

Skalko stated that pictures from Ironworld are available and a trophy case with 60-70 year old trophies in it is on hand and should be displayed. The Director of Parks and Recreation stated there was a plan in place last fall for placing the photos in the City Hall by subject. 

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Roskoski that the photos be hung as soon as possible and that we purchase safety glass for the trophy case and display it. Nelson stated that he wants to see a plan for the display of the photos and trophy case. The motion carried with Nelson voting no.

Mayor Skalko stated that he feels that the Union and Management contracts should have never been passed by the last Council. In September, the state came out with a budget deficit. The contract was political, only a matter of timing. It should have been done by the present Council. 

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Irish to check on the legality of the employment contracts, passing both the management and AFSCME contracts in one motion. Roskoski stated that no one told him that the contract was to be opened early. Nelson stated that a contract is there. Steve Giorgi, AFSCME Representative stated that the contracts have been signed and are in effect. The union has a signed agreement and will enact all legal forces to enforce it. The contract will remain in force. The City Attorney stated that there is nothing wrong with passing this kind of resolution affecting these groups; it doesn�t affect the ability of the council members to vote on them. Irish mentioned the possibility of layoffs. The motion carried with Nelson voting no.

Mayor Skalko requested that when it comes to City business that any Council member be able to come in to City Hall and have staff type memos or letters. 

It was moved by Skalko and supported by Roskoski to allow the Council members to direct staff to type letters or memos pertaining to City business. Prebeg asked what determines how much help is too much. He stated that this was too much demand on staff. The City Administrator stated that when a Council member requests typing be done, you are asking him to assign the work to staff, not getting permission from him to have it done. The motion failed with Skalko voting yes. 

Irish asked if city staff is allowed to contact the City Attorney without prior Council approval. The City Attorney stated that there is an open working agreement. He has talked with the City Administrator, Director of Public Works and the City Engineer with no restrictions in the past. As part of the day-to-day operations, they need to have regular contact. Irish asked if the City staff has authority to do any projects not okayed by the Council. The City Administrator stated that there is a purchasing policy in effect. Items under $2500 can be purchased without Council approval in advance.

It was moved by Nelson and supported by Prebeg to adjourn the meeting at 9:52 p.m.

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