CITY OF RIVER FALLS: 3/24/09 COMMON COUNCIL PROCEEDINGS
March 24, 2009
Mayor Richards called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located in City Hall.
City Council Members Present: Wayne Beebe, Tom Caflisch, Dave Cronk, Bob Ebert, Joleen Larson, Jim Nordgren
Members Absent: Michael Woolsey
Staff Present: Bill Thiel, City Attorney; Julie Bergstrom, Finance Director/Interim City Administrator; Reid Wronski, City Engineer; Carl Gaulke, Utility General Manager; Lanny Gleason, Public Works Director; Cindi Danke, Parks and Recreation Coordinator; Buddy Lucero, Community Development Director
Others Present: Pat Meyer, Amy Muzzy, Matt Hieb, Rick Peterson, Mark Putnam, Dan Geister
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
March 10, 2009, Regular Meeting Minutes
MSC Beebe/Nordgren to approve minutes as submitted. Unanimous.
APPROVAL OF BILLS:
City – $5,478,183.75
Utility - $1,030,018.24
MS Caflisch/Cronk approve the bills subject to comptroller. Nordgren said payments were made to two banks for construction loans of $5,034,000 and Utility paid $88,175 for interest in bonds and $663,963 to WPPI for energy costs. The bills were approved unanimously.
PUBLIC COMMENT, PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND COMMUNICATIONS:
Pat Meyer, Maple Street – had concerns about the Habitat project that was in the newspaper. One of her main concerns was that there was no secondary outlet for this property.
Ordinance 2009-4 – Amend 2.10.020 of the City Code, Appointment and Removal of City Administrator – Second Reading and Disposition
Mayor Richards recessed Council at 6:34 p.m. and went into a public hearing. At 6:34 p.m. with no one wishing to speak for or against this issue, Council reconvened into Open Session for disposition.
MS Beebe/Larson move to approve ordinance. Caflisch felt it was a necessary change which needed to be made. The ordinance was passed unanimously.
Acknowledgement of the following minutes:
Fire Department – 2/2/09; Police and Fire Commission – 2/2/09; Ambulance Commission – 2/2/09; Plan Commission – 2/3/09; Park and Recreation Advisory Board – 2/18/09; River Falls Library Board – 3/2/09; Utility Commission – 2/16/09 regular meeting; Utility Commission 2/12/09 joint workshop; Historic Preservation – 2/11/09
Resolution Opposing Proposed Changes to Prevailing Wage Law --Pulled by Caflisch
Resolution Authorizing Sale of Surplus Equipment – Two Plow Trucks -- Pulled by Ebert
Resolution Authorizing Staff to Proceed with 2009 Vehicle Replacement Plan -- Pulled by Caflisch
MSC Caflisch/Beebe move to approve remainder of Consent Agenda.
Resolution No. 5241 - Resolution Opposing Proposed Changes to Prevailing Wage Law
Caflisch was glad that Bergstrom put the resolution on the agenda as this issue would result in increased costs for projects. MSC Caflisch/Larson to approve resolution. Unanimous.
Resolution No. 5242 - Resolution Authorizing Sale of Surplus Equipment – Two Plow Trucks
Ebert asked if the trucks would be sold before the new ones would be purchased. Gleason said no. Ebert didn’t want the City to be short. MSC Ebert/Beebe to approve resolution. Unanimous.
Resolution No. 5243 – Resolution Authorizing Staff to Proceed with 2009 Vehicle Replacement Plan
Caflisch asked if the inspectors were getting new cars. Gleason said no; the vehicles would rotate and the inspectors would receive cars previously used by the Police Department. The oldest two fleet vehicles would be replaced. MSC Caflisch/ Beebe to approve resolution. Unanimous.
ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS:
Ordinance 2009-5 – Ordinance Amendments to Extraterritorial Zoning Ordinance/Town of River Falls – First Reading
Resolution No. 5244 – Resolution to Authorize Conditional Conveyance Of City-Owned Real Estate To St. Croix Valley Habitat For Humanity, Inc.
Lucero introduced the resolution. He wanted to make it clear that the Council is voting only for the conveyance of the property and is not approving building, permits, or zoning. All those things would be come back to Council for approval at a later time.
Lucero said the Habitat project involved low to moderate income housing as defined by HUD. He said the property is vacant land that would be put back on the tax roll with improvements. He said it was a policy issue and not a technical issue. Lucero noted there were some stipulations such as a timeframe for completion and also that Habitat could not sell the land for profit.
Caflisch asked about the road. Wronski noted it was a private drive but right-of-way would be dedicated through platting and the CSM process.
Beebe clarified that if the conveyance were approved, that the project would need to come back to Council for further approval. Lucero said it would need to come before Council again. Larson was concerned about current housing sitting empty because it is not affordable. There were further questions by Council.
The Mayor invited Amy Muzzy to speak on behalf of the project. She noted that Pierce and St. Croix counties have two of the highest foreclosure rates in the state. She said since the newspaper article was published, she has had three calls from interested people. She said there is a need for affordable housing. She talked about the median income and the income standards for Habitat.
Nordgren asked about the cost of the project and how much money needed to be raised for the project by Habitat. She said that if Habitat had the title to the land, it would allow them to go further with grant writing. She thought she may be able to get about $195,000 in grant money for infrastructure. Muzzy talked about grant money opportunities. She felt the project would qualify for many grants.
Caflisch said he shared Larson’s concerns and wondered how people could afford Habitat houses if they were unemployed. Muzzy said owners need to have an ability to pay to qualify.
Ebert talked about people who are currently renting having the ability to move into a housing unit and owning a home. He felt that was positive.
Larson asked about the cost of a Habitat home. Muzzy said the first mortgage average was $80,000-$85,000. There is a silent second mortgage that is forgiven as long as payments are being made.
MS Cronk/Ebert move to approve resolution.
Bergstrom said the City currently stores snow there and if the property were conveyed to Habitat, another location would have to be found to store snow.
The Mayor felt this was a good opportunity for the City. Caflisch was concerned that homes would truly be affordable.
The Mayor asked Rick Peterson to answer the question. Peterson said three cost analysis were done last year by WestCap and the bids came in between $75,000 - $85,000 a year ago. He said this year bids are coming in 15-20 percent lower than last year.
Larson asked about the cost of infrastructure. Muzzy said Habitat would be responsible for getting the grants and partnerships in place to make the project happen.
Norgren asked about a timeline for completion. Muzzy wanted to complete it within five years.
Caflisch referred back to Meyer’s comments about the street. The Mayor asked Mark Putnam to comment. Putnam said the street, right-of-way and power line easement were looked at closely. He explained a different number of options. Wronski said the road and easement could coincide.
Lucero noted these were good questions that Habitat would have to address in the future. He said these were just conceptual drawings and now they would have to get into the project.
The Mayor asked for a roll call vote. The resolution was approved 4-2 with Beebe, Cronk, Ebert and Nordgren voting in favor and Caflisch and Larson voting against.
Resolution No. 5245 - Approving Hiring of Replacement Police Officer
MSC Beebe/Larson to approve resolution. Unanimous.
Resolution No. 5246 - Approving Hiring of Part-Time Park and Recreation Staff
MSC Larson/ Beebe to approve resolution. Unanimous.
Resolution No. 5247 - Authorizing the Partial Redemption of the City’s General Obligation Promissory Notes, Series 2001A, May 1, 2001
MS Beebe/Larson to approve resolution. The roll call vote to approve the resolution was unanimous.
MSC Beebe/Nordgren move to remove appointments from the table. Unanimous.
Caflisch talked about residency requirements and term limits. He thanked Deputy Clerk McKahan for providing the Council with the information. He said if the Council doesn’t like the policy then it should be changed.
Larson agreed with having term limits and felt there needs to be a better system to recruit new people.
Ebert spoke on behalf of Dan Geister being appointed to the Historic Preservation Commission.
MSC Beebe/Nordgren move to appoint Dan Geister to the Historic Preservation Commission. Unanimous.
Caflisch it was the consensus of Council to not make any reappointments at this meeting and to let the current appointments continue serving until a later date.
Dan Geister asked if he could speak. The Mayor let him proceed. Geister spoke on behalf of Audrey Alton who was up for reappointment on the Historic Preservation Commission. He felt it would be a hardship to lose Alton. Council members felt they needed to work on the policy before they proceeded with more appointments.
The General Fund revenues through the end of February were $2,090,564 and include the February tax settlement and the aid to state facilities payment. Expenditures for the same period were $942,137, for a net of revenues over expenditures of $1,148,427 for the year.
At 7:32 p.m. Caflisch moved to recess into Closed Session, per Wisconsin Statutes: 19.85 (1)(e) Deliberating or negotiating the purchasing of public properties, the investing of public funds, or conducting other specified public business, whenever competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed session. The roll call vote to move into Closed Session was unanimous.
MSC Caflisch/Beebe to reconvene into Open Session at 7:49 p.m. Unanimous.
MSC Cronk/Caflisch to adjourn the meeting at 7:49 p.m. Unanimous.
Kristi McKahan, Deputy City Clerk