The Taconite Capital of the World

City of Mountain Iron, Minnesota



Meeting Minutes for November 28, 2005

MOUNTAIN IRON CITY COUNCIL

COMMITTEE-OF-THE-WHOLE MEETING

NOVEMBER 28, 2005

Mayor Skalko called the City Council meeting to order at 6:02 p.m. with the following members were present: Allen Nelson, Dale Irish, Joe Prebeg, Jr., Ed Roskoski and Mayor Gary Skalko. Also present were: Craig J. Wainio, City Administrator; Jill M. Forseen, Municipal Services Secretary; Larry Nanti, Director of Parks and Recreation; Don Kleinschmidt, Director of Public Works; Wade Rasch, Sheriff Sergeant; Tom Cvar, Fire Chief; and Justin Kochar, Fire Department Training Officer. 

The Council discussed the proposed five percent levy increase over last year�s levy. Councilor Roskoski said that the City was receiving increases in Local Government Aid and Taconite Aid since last year and he felt the five percent proposed increase was too much and he did not want any increase. The Mayor said that he would agree to a three percent increase in the levy amount. Councilor Nelson stated that he felt a five percent increase was not out of line and only amounts to $50,000 of the total budget. Councilor Nelson said that the legislature basis the Local Government Aid on how the City levies or not. Councilor Prebeg said that the Council has to look at what the City needs without looking at what the School District, the County, or the State is doing with their funding. Councilor Prebeg said that the City needs to meet the budget needs with increasing insurance costs and approve a five percent increase. Councilor Irish said that he had spoke to Ron Dicklich regarding the effects of Local Government Aid and grants with regard to the amount that the City levies and he was informed that this has nothing to do with the Local Government Aid or grant applications. Councilor Irish said that based on a $100,000 valuation on a house the Cities portion of the taxes would increase $75 with a five percent levy increase. Councilor Irish also did not want to increase the levy at all. The Mayor said that the Council would be voting on the levy amount in December.

The City Council reviewed 2006 budget by department, line by line. The following were comments made during the budget review:

REVENUES

TAXES Franchise Fee Discussion of taping meetings provided from revenue. (GS)

Comment-has money been dedicated to recreation. (ER)

INTER.REV Taconite Aid 2005 budget $300,000, received $355,561. (JP)

Misc. Aids Comprises of various aids from the State. (CJW)

State Fire Aid-$13,532 (goes to Fire Dept. Relief Assoc.)

St. Louis County-PERA-$26,614.19

Misc. State Aid-$2,268.50

GEN. REV. Chg for Serv. Admin.-Sale of Land – $5780.00

Admin.-Fees, Other – $940.75

Assessing-Searches, Misc. – $940.00

P & Z-Misc. Income – $40.00

Fire Department-Sale of Surplus Equip. – $475.00

Building � Rent, Other – $7,562.71

Recreation Dept.-Fees, Other – $5,105.15

Campground � Fees, Misc. – $30,066.66

EXPENDITURES

COUNCIL Other Council specific fees, i.e. legal, engineering, phone (CJW)

ADMIN. Ins.-Group Health Insurance (CJW)

Ins.-General General Liability Insurance, i.e. buildings, property (CJW)

Legal Fees Fees-Admin. specific and all of the criminal costs (CJW)

Operations General Exp.-repairs, furniture, computer supplies (CJW)

P&Z Salaries Year to date is to October 2005. 

Plan Review Fees have not been submitted for the entire

year. (JMF) 

SHERIFF Other Phone chges, repairs to vehicles, office supplies, etc. (JMF)

FIRE PRO. Salaries Wages are hard to determine with the number of fire calls

per year. To date there have been 55 fire calls in 2005.

Six were to Virginia for mutual aid structure fires, which

is about average per year. (TC)

Would like to get a salary increase for the officers. (TC)

The City Council requested that the Fire Chief submit a

request for salary increase with comparisons to 

neighboring communities. 

Will need an increase in the training budget due to the high

amount of new firemen starting on the Fire Dept. (TC)

At 6:42 p.m., Councilor Roskoski left the meeting.

FIRE PRO. Overall Add additional $3,000-Fire Dept. budget to $70,000. (GS)

Maintain the same budget and have special training

come to the City Council for approval. (JP) 

Another FEMA grant may be available for turnout gear.

Should know about the grant in two weeks. (TC)

At 6:44 p.m., Councilor Roskoski returned to the meeting.

EMER MGMT Operations Making the City NIMS compliant-Fire Dept training in

January, 2006. May obtain a copy of an emergency

management from the NIMS System and update

with City name. (TC)

ANML CNRL Overall Approved of the increase in the contract at a previous

Council meeting. (GS)

STREETS Overall Why the 6% increase. (ER) Going by historical figures

to calculate 2006 expenses. (DVK)

BUILDINGS Overall Supplies, why the big increase? (DI) The building is being

used for little or no rent and the supplies are still being

used and need to be replenished. (DVK)

Operation expenses included $6,000 for equipment for the 

Senior Center and Building Insurances-$2,193.

Need to look into increasing the rental fees. (ER)

CAMPGRD Operations Caretakers-$8,925; Buhl Water-$395; Insurance-

$10,930; Phone and other misc. chges also. 

PUB EXP Total Retriever Club Land-$25,700; Bon Air Taxes-

$18,631.11; Move Skating Bldg.-$1,000;

Picnic Tables-$1,331.25; and misc. other exp.

The Council reviewed the 2006 operational budget requests:

The Fire Chief expressed to the Council that he would like to see an apron put in front of the City garage and fire hall. He said that there is a lot of dirt that is hauled in the buildings by the trucks.

It was the consensus of the Council to add $5,000 to the 2006 budget to update the Emergency Management Plan.

It was the consensus of the Council to add $5,000 to the 2006 budget to broadcast City Council Meetings.

It was the consensus of the Council to add $10,000 to the 2006 budget to update the Comprehensive Plan.

Councilor Irish requested that $3,000 be added to the 2006 budget for maintenance to the ATV Trail. Councilors Prebeg and Nelson said there is no trail currently to maintain, so there is no need to budget for it now and if there is a trail built, the Council can consider the request at a later date.

Councilor Roskoski said that the Merritt Days Committee would like more budgeted for the celebration to use for better entertainment at the Street Dance to draw more people to the event. The Recreation Director said that the Committee was also looking at adding fireworks to the celebration. The Mayor said that he would like to see the celebration continue and grow. 

At 7:27 p.m., Councilor Prebeg left the meeting

At 7:28 p.m. Councilor Prebeg returned to the meeting.

The Council reviewed the capital improvements requests.

It was the consensus of the Council to have the City Administrator adjust the budget to a proposed three percent levy increase for the December 5, 2005, City Council meeting. Councilor Irish asked the City Administrator where the funds would be reduced from. The City Administrator said that the adjustment would come out of the capital improvement budget. Councilor Irish stated that he would like to see the adjustment reflected in all of the department budgets. 

At 7:41 p.m., Councilor Roskoski left the meeting.

At 7:42 p.m., Councilor Roskoski returned to the meeting.

The Mayor said that the Greenwood Cemetery Association was looking for funding for some capital improvement projects at the cemetery. The Mayor said that Greenwood Cemetery Association was also looking for the same contribution of $12,500 that was given to the Calvary Cemetery Association in the 2006 budget. Councilor Prebeg felt that the City should not feel obligated to contribute the same amount to the Greenwood Cemetery Association as given to the Calvary Cemetery Association. The Mayor felt that the same contribution should be given to both cemetery associations. Councilor Irish asked who owns the cemeteries. The City Administrator said that the associations own the cemeteries. Councilor Irish said that the City Attorney should review whether it is allowable to even contribute to the Cemetery Associations.

Councilor Irish asked what happens to the carry over projects. The City Administrator said that anything that is not expended in 2005 goes into the reserve funds. Councilor Irish said that he allocated $21,000 in 2004 that was carried over to 2005 for the ATV Trail, and he would like to carryover the $21,000 to 2006 and transfer the $20,000 that was allocated in 2005 for Phase II also to 2006. Councilor Irish wanted to know what procedure he needs to complete to get the $41,000 from 2004 and 2005 to 2006 for the ATV Trail. Councilor Irish also wanted to allocate an additional $20,000 in the Parks and Recreation Department budget for the ATV Trail. The Administrator said that this is a capital improvement and would have to go into that fund and not the Park and Recreation Department operational fund. Councilor Irish questioned if the $3,000 he requested for trail maintenance could go through the Park and Recreation Department Operation fund. The Administrator said that would be appropriate if that is approved by the Council.

The Council discussed the Wetlands Mitigation Grant and when the grant expires. 

The Council discussed the 16th Avenue Street Improvements. Councilor Roskoski felt that the City should not pursue this project due to the cost of the project. The Mayor felt that this road is basically a Virginia street.

The Council discussed the Library improvements. The Mayor said that the amount allocated is grant and loan funds. The Mayor recommended that the City review the remaining balance of the grants and loan funds to use to complete the project, i.e. carpeting, etc. Councilor Prebeg asked if it is necessary for the City to spend the loan funds or could the City put the remaining balance to pay back the loan. The Mayor said that the Council should review this with a recommendation from the Library Board.

The Council discussed the cleanup funds allocated for development, this was also a match to grant funding.

The Council discussed the proposed agreement with the Mountain Iron-Buhl School District. Councilor Prebeg felt that this may cost about $60,000 plus in-kind services from the City.

The Council discussed the South Grove playground equipment allocation. The Mayor said that the City has received a grant for $20,000 towards this project and this project should proceed or the City will lose the grant funding.

The Council discussed the Sheriffs Department vehicle purchase at a budgeted cost of $21,500. 

The Mayor stated that he was meeting with Commissioner Nelson regarding obtaining grant funding for Locomotive Park from the St. Louis County Land Grant in the amount of $20,000. Councilor Roskoski said that the City would be receiving a TEA21 grant for Locomotive Park. The Mayor said that this funding would not be available until 2007. Councilor Roskoski suggested that the City reserve some funds to match the TEA21 grant in 2006.

The Mayor reviewed the commitment for Christmas decorations in 2006 in the amount of $10,000. The Director of Public Works thought the City spent about $7,000 in 2005 on decorations. 

The Mayor said that the City Hall office carpeting needs replacing. The Council felt this project could wait for a while. 

The Council discussed landscaping around the Community Center. The Mayor said that he would like to include tables for the patio behind the Community Center. Councilor Prebeg felt that the City could put some low maintenance shrubbery around the front of the building and some landscaping around the patio and add picnic tables.

The Council discussed the signage for the Old Town area. Councilor Irish said that he would contact the Minnesota Department of Transportation regarding the signs.

Councilor Irish stated again that he would like to have the Council carry over $21,000, match to the DNR Grant, from 2004 to 2005 and the $20,000 2005 to 2006. The City Administrator said that there was no budgeted amount in 2005 for the ATV trail, only the carryover funds from 2004. Council Prebeg stated that they have not seen a plan or a route for the ATV Trail and it is really hard to approve something when you do not know anything about the project.

At 8:14 p.m., Councilor Nelson left the meeting.

At 8:17 p.m., Councilor Nelson returned to the meeting.

The Council discussed the additional Mesabi Trail Signage at a cost of $2,000. It was the consensus of the Council to change the amount to $2,000 for historical sights signs for the Mesabi Trail. The Director of Public Works said that the Rail Authority does signage for the trails that would not cost anything to the City. Councilor Roskoski said that if the City waited 5-7 years, then the Rail Authority would complete the signage. Councilor Roskoski said that if the City would contribute up to $2,000 for the signs the project would be completed in 2006. It was the consensus of the Council to leave the $2,000 in the 2006 budget.

The Council discussed Councilor Roskoski�s request for budget funds for 2006 in the amount of $15,000 for a double sided entrance sign on County Road 102 and 109. No further discussion took place. 

The Council discussed the $5,000 allocation for the Wolf Park. Councilor Prebeg said that the City Engineer estimated that it would cost approximately $4,200 for parking lot fence, a gate, and a light for the Wolf Park.

The Council discussed funding for sidewalks for $10,000. It was the consensus of the Council that the sidewalk on the west side of the football field in Downtown Mountain Iron was not a feasible project.

Councilor Roskoski requested that the City Council to budget $25,000 for street light improvements. It was the consensus of the Council that there was no funding remaining considering all of the previous budget allocations by the Council.

The Mayor stated that the City should not get involved in funding a private club, the Quad Cities Tennis for All. The Mayor said that if the City were involved with a partial ownership, then a contribution could be considered.

The Council reviewed the 2006 Enterprise Fund budgets. Councilor Nelson felt that all of the Enterprise Funds should be balanced and the rates would need to be increased in the water, wastewater, and refuse funds. Councilor Prebeg said that the Utility Advisory Board would be presenting a recommendation for rate increases. The Council questioned when the last rates increases went into affect. The Director of Public Works said that he would get the information together for the Council to review.

At 8:41 p.m., the Mayor adjourned the meeting.

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