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City Council Meeting Minutes
March 30, 2009
1. Call Roll
Mayor Klausing called to order the Roseville City Council regular meeting at approximately 6:00 pm.
(Voting and Seating Order for March: Pust; Ihlan; Johnson; Roe and Klausing)
City Attorney Scott Anderson was also present.
2. Approve Agenda
Councilmember Roe requested removal for discussion purposes of Consent Item 7.d, entitled, "Approve Amendments to the 2008 Budget."
The agenda was approved by consensus, as amended.
3. Public Comment
Mayor Klausing called for public comment by members of the audience on any non-agenda items.
a. Bryan Olson, 1592 Roselawn Avenue W, Falcon Heights, MN
Mr. Olson referenced and presented for the record correspondence from City Manager Malinen dated March 24, 2009 and Mr. Olson's subsequent response to that letter dated March 30, 2009, both related to his employment status with the City of Roseville and requested return of City property (i.e., key(s) and ID Badge).
Mayor Klausing sought the counsel of City Attorney Scott Anderson as to whether this discussion was appropriate for public comment or an issue for the entire City, since it was apparently a personnel situation and protected under Data Practices Act.
City Attorney Anderson opined that as per City Manager Malinen's correspondence dated March 24, 2009, Mr. Olson was not identified as an employee of the City, he could speak during public comment, and release any data he so chose; however, the Data Practices Act would apply to the City Council and any release of private data.
4. Council Communications, Reports, Announcements and Housing and Redevelopment Authority Report
a. Quarterly Housing & Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Report
Community Development Director and HRA Executive Director Patrick Trudgeon and HRA Chair Dean Maschka were present to provide the quarterly update from HRA, based on the HRA Strategic Plan, emphasizing a "Hand up, not a hand out." Written copies were provided as a bench handout.
Discussion included the success of the recent Home and Garden Fair and rebranding it into a "Living Smarter" theme emphasizing green practices and solutions; multi-family loan program; and role of the HRA in multi-family housing.
Chair Maschka addressed a new HRA program for 2009 in assisting multi-family buildings that are older than 25 years, and criteria for such assistance; ongoing discussions of the HRA Board in an appropriate role for the HRA in assuring safe and affordable multi-family units within the community. Chair Maschka reported on a recent round table discussion he'd held with local multi-family managers, the School District, Northwest Youth and Family Services, and the Roseville Police Department to glean a better understanding of what was happening in the community and impacts to multi-family housing in the community. Chair Maschka advised that further study would continue, but indications were that a significant problem was developing and required action. Chair Maschka opined that code enforcement to-date appeared to be working well. Chair Maschka further opined that further evaluation of housing in Roseville needed to be completed to determine an appropriate mix based on current inventory and indicated trends for the future, with preliminary but serious consideration being given to recommending multi-family housing inspections, which may prove to be a controversial issue for the City Council to address cooperatively with the HRA.
Executive Director Trudgeon advised that the HRA would continue to dialogue with the City Council on a monthly basis, in addition to their more formal quarterly report.
Discussion among Councilmembers, Executive Director Trudgeon and Chair Maschka included consideration of conduit bonding policies and standard criteria for any future Housing Improvement Area (HIA) bonding; other potential funding mechanisms that may make sense based on development of such a City Council policy; support of and recognition of the needs and benefit by the Multi-Family Housing Association of MN as an industry group for inspections of multi-family units as expressed during discussions with the Rental Housing Study Group; ramifications and unintended consequences of such an inspection for the immigrant populaces; recent experience with the Centennial Gardens project and bond; and accuracy of the residential foreclosure trends from 2008 and 2009.
Chair Maschka noted that the City's housing has held up surprisingly well through this economic situation; with Mayor Klausing noting that this may be due to the City not experiencing a dramatic upsurge in housing prices; outright and long-term ownership of some homeowners and their excess equity in those single-family homes.
5. Recognitions, Donations, Communications
a. Proclamation of Arbor Day
Mayor Klausing read the proclamation recognizing April 24, 2009 as Arbor Day in Roseville.
Johnson moved, Pust seconded, proclaiming April 24, 2009 Arbor Day in the City of Roseville.
Ayes: Pust; Ihlan; Johnson; Roe; and Klausing.
b. Accept and Recognize Goodmanson Construction for sponsorship of the New Year's Eve Celebration at the Roseville Skating Center
Recreation/Retail Program Supervisor Kevin Elm introduced Goodmanson Construction family representatives Merl & Cami Goodmanson, and Rick Goodmanson, all present for tonight's recognition. Mr. Elm noted that this was the fourth year in a row that the family had participated in the event, and their contribution of $4,000 cash, in addition to gathering over 60 prize packs from over 25 different companies, and their staffing costs to assist with control, safety and other various tasks through the night to promote this family event. Mr. Elm advised that the Goodmanson firm had also distributed 7,000 flyers throughout the community advertising the event.
Mr. Elm, on behalf of the City Council, staff and community, presented a plaque to Goodmanson Construction and expressed appreciation for their participation.
Mr. Merl Goodmanson, in accepting the plaque and recognition, opined that this event was a great opportunity to give back to their community, with most of their employees from the area, and many youth coaches. Mr. Goodmanson noted that, while their participation got their name in front of the public, it was a fun event for those from 8 years to 80 years old. Mr. Goodmanson thanked City staff for providing the opportunity and for their cooperation.
Mayor Klausing thanked Merl and Cami Goodmanson for the work they do, and opined that they were in a league by themselves in what they did for the community. Mayor Klausing noted that, while so many companies were national and not locally based, it was a great advantage to have a local company and owners who were so invested in their community. Mayor Klausing echoed appreciation to the family.
Klausing moved, Ihlan seconded, recognition of Cami, Merl & Rick Goodmanson and Goodmanson Construction, Inc. for their generous and significant sponsorship of and contribution to the 2008 New Year's Eve Celebration at the Roseville Skating Center.
c. Accept and Recognize General Donations to the City
Recreation/Retail Program Supervisor Kevin Elm presented a list of donations as detailed in the Request for Council Action dated March 30, 2009; and thanked all donors.
Mayor Klausing encouraged others interested in making similar donations to contact the Parks and Recreation Office and ask for Mr. Lonnie Brokke.
Johnson moved, Ihlan seconded, acceptance of the following donations to the City of Roseville:
Richard (Dick) Klaus
Cash to paint Shirlie
Klaus Pavilion at Arboretum
Cash for Bench in
Memory of June Demos
Cash for Bench
Mary Ann Hess - Allison, Robert, Rebecca & Richard Hess
Cash for Programs
Lake Owasso Garden Club
Cash for Arboretum
Roseville Citizens Forum
Cash for Facilities
North Suburban Gavel Club
North Suburban Golden K Kiwanis
Cash for Scholarships and
Youth Wellness Program
North Suburban Evening Club
Cash for HANC and Scholarships
Cash for Program Supplies
6. Approve Minutes
a. Approve Minutes of March 23, 2009 Regular Meeting
Roe moved, Johnson seconded, approval of the minutes of the March 23, 2009 Closed Executive Session and Regular Meeting as amended.
Councilmember Roe suggested that lines 8 and 9 of page 20 be deleted.
Councilmembers Ihlan and Pust recommended that the sequence of events did happen and should be part of the record.
Mayor Klausing recommended that the subjective nature of the record be revised.
Consensus was to include the statement, revised as follows:
"Mayor Klausing was preparing to adjourn the meeting at 10:02 pm, but allowed a resident to speak to the matter."
Further discussion was held related to former Consent Item 7.i that was removed by staff prior to the meeting, as the grant in question was only for state agencies; however, the item remained on the agenda and was approved on the Consent Agenda without removal.
By consensus, the minutes were amended to include this consent item in the record as an action item.
7. Approve Consent Agenda
There were no additional changes to the Consent Agenda than those previously noted. At the request of Mayor Klausing, City Manager Bill Malinen briefly reviewed those items being considered under the Consent Agenda.
a. Approve Payments
Ihlan moved, Roe seconded, approval of the following claims and payments as presented.
54644 - 54715
Ayes: Pust; Ihlan; Johnson; Roe; and Klausing
b. Approve Business License
Ihlan moved, Roe seconded, approval of business license applications for the period of one year, for the following applicant:
Type of License
Kieran J. McManimon @
Body, Mind & Soul Healing & Wellness Spa
1740 Lexington Avenue
c. Approve General Purchases or Sale of Surplus Items Exceeding $5,000
Councilmember Pust questioned the status of the 2009 budget related to the diseased and hazardous tree removal item.
City Manager Malinen noted that the original budgeted amount had been $25,000; however, the expense was reallocated in the Park Improvement Program rather than as originally allocated in the original budget; and had been reduced from its original amount to the current $25,000.
Ihlan moved, Roe seconded, approval of general purchases and/or contracts as follows:
Upper Cut Tree Service
Diseased & Hazardous tree
*Electrical upgrades @
*Repairs to Amphitheatre
Metro Sound & Light
*Sound system @ Amphitheatre
*Alarm system @ Amphitheatre
*A portion of these costs will be paid by the Central Park Foundation
8. Consider Items Removed from Consent
a. Approve Amendments to the 2008 Budget (former Consent Item 7.d)
At the request of Mayor Klausing, City Manager Malinen briefly reviewed this item; and provided a bench handout consisting of the proposed amendments to the General Fund, as well as the Recreation Fund that had been included in the Request for Council Action.
Discussion included revenue changes not being required or adjusted, only expenses, based on the City Council's approval of expenses, and their acknowledgment that more was spent than originally budgeted, with additional revenues incorporated as indicated but not requiring action.
Further discussion included operational savings realized beyond extra revenue; budgetary controls at the fund level, but not line items and discretion specific to City Council directives; use of reserves due to unforeseen circumstances that arise periodically and short reaction times; assumptions used in creating a budget with forecasting expenses and revenues 12 - 16 months in advance; and the fluidity of the budget document based on City Council discretion to amend that budget, and based on day-to-day operations and policies in place.
Additional discussion included investment income allocation between departments based on cash holdings on hand and wide fluctuations from fund to fund and among 40 funds, and based on past practice and operations; lower than anticipated collection of property taxes, based on some reductions in long-term values, but also based on successful petitioning of property owners to Ramsey County to lower their values for a period of three years, but taken out of the current tax levy; and anticipation that additional commercial property owners will petition for similar valuation reductions in 2009.
Further discussion was related to final budget set by the City Council in December used to calculate the tax burden; and seeing the budget as a process with amendment possible by the Council at any time to its budget, with the Truth in Taxation Hearing designed to provide taxpayers a general spending plan.
City Attorney Anderson clarified and separated the budget and levy, with the Truth in Taxation Hearing focused on what taxes will be; with a maximum levy established, no limitation on budget amendments, but no increases above that established levy amount.
Mayor Klausing opined that, while the City Council had no legal limitations on budget amendments, it would be a breach of faith to change the budget dramatically.
Johnson moved, Klausing seconded, approval of year-end amendments to the 2008 Budget in the General Fund and the Recreation Fund, as detailed in the Request for Council Action dated March 30, 2009.
9. General Ordinances for Adoption
11. Public Hearings
12. Business Items (Action Items)
13. Business Items - Presentations/Discussions
a. Discuss Professional Services Policy
City Manager Malinen provided background material for a discussion of professional services contract changes, to provide further direction to staff in drafting policy language.
Councilmember Roe sought input from staff on professional services; whether the same policy should apply to all professional services, or if there were differences in providing those services that would indicate different policies; and how and when best value contracting would be appropriate.
City Manager Malinen noted the appreciable amount of time staff expended in the process, as indicated in the 2008 timeline/process for legal services contracts. Mr. Malinen noted that fifty firms in the metropolitan area were invited to participate in submitting a proposal for legal services, with the Request for Proposals (RFP) process performed every three years; and staff?s repeated requests of the City Council as to whether to continue that process, or whether that process and term limits were valuable and in the City?s best interests. Mr. Malinen opined that clearing up the current protracted process, his lack of conviction in the value of term limits being in the City?s best interests, and balancing the value of the expertise of existing providers if they remained competitively priced were all necessary steps in streamlining the process.
Discussion included application of such a policy for City Attorney, City Prosecutor and City Auditors; possible statutory requirements for auditing services not being indicated; primary concerns with the current policy being with term limits, with secondary concerns being related to whom the policy applies; and how the City's Ethics Code could apply to those firms and their individual commitment to that Code.
Councilmember Ihlan noted that past Council action had specifically removed the City Attorney from the scope of the Ethics Code.
City Manager Malinen opined that, of those three service providers (City Attorney, Prosecuting Attorney and City Auditor), he would be open to Council directive related to the terms, to whom it applies, and the process indicated. Mr. Malinen noted that the Auditor services are only for a small window of time; however, noted that the City Attorney and City Prosecutor are involved in day-to-day operations of the City, and have more connection with staff. Mr. Malinen sought City Council direction to improve the process that has been followed for the last nine years; while noting the statutory scheme for Plan B Cities in the process for the City Manager selecting the City Attorney and City Prosecutor, with the City Council ratifying those selections. Mr. Malinen asked that the process be improved to avoid similar situations as that experienced last year in that selection process.
Councilmember Ihlan opined that the policy needed to be clarified as to the hiring situations for the City Manager and City Council in Statutory Plan B Cities.
City Attorney Anderson concurred with City Manager Malinen's interpretation of statutory law, noting that previous case law and legal opinions supported that interpretation of State Statute; and that there was no distinction between the City Attorney and City Prosecuting Attorney.
Councilmember Pust questioned why, when the existing policy discusses broader appointments, that only the three service providers are the focus of this discussion; and suggested that perhaps the policy language needed be specific to only those three, or that the discussion should be broader and apply to all consultants, as indicated by the existing policy.
City Manager Malinen noted that when staff sought RFPs for professional services, most were for project-specific items and term limits were not applicable; however, with the services of the Auditor, City Attorney, and Prosecuting Attorney, their services were for multiple years.
City Manager Malinen, based on his experience in Roseville, opined that even with relatively smaller contracts, the process was probably consistent with this policy, and a separate policy related to those contracts was probably not indicated. However, Mr. Malinen noted that application of the term limits for these specific three service providers seemed to be the area needing clarification; noting that the City was already into April of this year of the one year contract extensions with existing firms to provide those services.
Mayor Klausing opined, as to specific language, it was his understanding that it was the City's desire, and it made policy sense, to bring in new firms on occasion. Mayor Klausing noted that the apparent objective and effort of the existing policy was the need for a balance of continuity and a professional firm knowing the City and staff and City operations as one goal; while recognizing another policy objective for the benefits of a fresh perspective with turnover. Mayor Klausing opined that the existing language was cumbersome; and proposed language similar to the following:
1) Councilmember Johnson?s proposed language as indicated on the proposed draft provided in the packet, with language in lines 30 - 33 stricken, in addition to striking the next sentence as well.
2) Possibly substituting some other language in its place to determine whether to renew professional services contracts; charging the City Manager to consider benefits of fresh perspectives; and whether such policy language was necessary or intrinsic.
Councilmember Johnson noted the rationale for a fresh perspective without a sunset provision.
Councilmember Roe suggested that revised language indicating that contracts not be longer than three years would accomplish the intent; and that further discussion was indicated on a best value approach for those services. Councilmember Roe opined that more perspective from staff was needed for those three professional services as identified, as well as any other applicable services that should be included in a policy.
Mayor Klausing, due to the immediacy of current contracts, suggested holding off on adopting a policy until a link between a professional policy and best values was accomplished.
Councilmember Roe concurred, with the addition of a level of context.
Councilmember Ihlan requested a vote on removing term limits, opining that she could not support that and she wished to vote on that specific issue.
Mayor Klausing suggested that votes would be appropriate when an actual policy was before the Council; at which time amendments could be suggested.
Councilmember Pust opined that no votes be taken on the policy until it was presented in its proper format; noting that she had numerous changes to suggest for the revised language; and advised that she was under the impression that tonight was for discussion purposes, not action.
Councilmember Ihlan, for discussion purposes and from a taxpayer perspective, opined that ensuring market competition and cost-effectiveness for professional services needed to be a major part of the discussion. Councilmember Ihlan opined that, over the last few renewals, there had been no meaningful policy for turnover, and that a competitive bidding climate had been impacted, with fewer proposals received during each cycle. Councilmember Ihlan spoke in support of retaining term limits to achieve open market competition.
Councilmember Johnson concurred with Councilmember Roe that something as important as this position warranted a best value approach. Councilmember Johnson noted questions remained as to the fairness of keeping a law firm if they passed the best value trial and whether they?re appropriate to carry on if they passed that criterion. Councilmember Johnson opined that the best value approach to-date had been a great advantage for the City of Roseville.
Councilmember Pust indicated that her initial preview of the draft and her suggested changes were on reshaping policy language to focus on outcomes from the process, not focusing on the historical debate of this topic. Councilmember Pust opined that the Council needed to determine what it is we want, the best value, and how market forces could play an appropriate effect and allowing for regular oversight.
Mayor Klausing asked that Councilmember Pust provide her suggestions to City Manager Malinen for distribution to the City Council as a whole for further discussion.
Councilmember Roe opined that policy language needed further clarification and review to even the playing field and whether incumbent contracts could be renewed.
Councilmember Johnson opined that best value criteria needed to be met every three years.
City Manager Malinen provided his perspective, even with incumbents, that every three years a formal feedback form be developed and utilized, with termination clauses in each contract, to provide a better way of working within and managing relationships.
Councilmember Roe suggested that it may make sense to create a subcommittee of the City Council to be part of the review process, specific to the City Civil Attorney, whether within the policy itself or as a step in the process.
b. Consider Adjustments to the 2009 Budget
City Manager Malinen noted the staff report dated March 30, 2009, and department-specific responses, following the recent City Council and staff strategic planning meeting, and impacts to each department in the projected loss of approximately $400,000 in Market Value Homestead Credit (MVHC) in 2009. Mr. Malinen addressed several options for City Council consideration, including use of cash reserves, temporary short-term budget cuts, and structural or long-term budget cuts, as detailed in his report. Mr. Malinen provided a summary of potential 2009 budget reductions per division/function on a proportionate basis.
Mayor Klausing noted that all Department Heads were present, and expressed appreciation to them for their work on this potential short-fall. Mayor Klausing, personally opined his difficulty in considering reductions in services to citizens, who had come to expect the high level of service provided; and expressed his discomfort in having to be in this position; while acknowledging that there was $400,000 less in funds from those projected during budget preparations, and noting that staff was still attempting to continue to provide the best services possible.
City Manager Malinen referenced the voluntary budget reduction plans provided by Department Heads; and sought City Council feedback on those proposals and subsequent impacts to the public. Mr. Malinen noted that Departments were also seeking to identify additional revenue sources to further impact services.
Mayor Klausing expressed concern that short-term savings may have long-term negative impacts; and how staff had factored in those ramifications to their recommendations. One example used by Mayor Klausing was that of the proposed reduction in the Engineering Division for right-of-way, and erosion control management in the amount of $20,000.
City Manager Malinen noted that internally, staff had taken those concerns into consideration.
Public Works Director Duane Schwartz advised that staff was not eliminating doing right-of-way function review; however, staff was confident that permit revenue fees and contractor compliance, as recently revised, would provide sufficient revenue to support that mandated review. Mr. Schwartz advised that further analysis was being done to consider combining the functions now done by 2-3 people, into one person to provide additional efficiencies.
City Manager Malinen sought further feedback from Councilmembers prior to a more formal request for action, pending legislative action related to the Homestead Credit.
Mayor Klausing sought clarification related to the Police Department reduction in physical and psychological screening mechanisms in place for new hires; and reduced involvement in the Family Violence Network; questioning if those two items should be cut since they appeared to be a core function.
Police Chief Carol Sletner advised that the reduction in physical and psychological testing would be realized by leaving one position vacant and by not repeating a two-interview hiring process; and indicated that further discussions with the Tubman Center for Family Violence was needed to see if costs could be reduced.
Further discussion included reduced printing for citations; further identification of professional services reduction in the amount of $19,644 and the type of services indicated.
Councilmember Pust suggested that individual taxpayers contact their state legislators expressing their concern with reducing market value homestead credits to local government, potentially negating further cost reductions by the City.
Councilmember Roe concurred, and indicated that individual Councilmembers express their thoughts to the legislature as well as corporately. Councilmember Roe suggested that further consideration be given to reducing City Council compensation under these circumstances.
c. 2030 Comprehensive Plan Status and Next Steps
Economic Development Associate Jamie Radel provided a status report and suggested next steps related to the 2030 Comprehensive Plan Update. Ms. Radel indicated that the Comprehensive Plan had received an initial analysis by the Metropolitan Council, with several insignificant items missing and being provided for their analysis in the next few weeks, with anticipated wrap up by the end of spring.
Ms. Radel noted that adoption would initiate the nine-month clock, as mandated by State Statute, for bringing the City's official controls (i.e., zoning code and Master Plans) into compliance with the updated Comprehensive Plan.
Ms. Radel noted that that the City's zoning code, initially adopted in 1959, had been altered and amended many times over the last fifty years, and was no longer efficient, making it difficult for staff, decision-makers, property owners, and developers to adequately interpret it. Ms. Radel advised that staff was seeking authorization tonight to seek qualifications from consultants to assist with the preparation of revisions to the City's Zoning Code. Ms. Radel noted inclusion in the report of a draft Request for Qualifications (RFQ); and allowance for a two-step process; role of Planning and City Council throughout the process in segmenting the review into more manageable sections; and the formal Public Hearing process at the Planning Commission and City Council levels.
Discussion included staff's recommendation to hold off reintegrating Master Plans into the Comprehensive Plan until it was formally adopted, and the need to continue working off the existing Comprehensive Plan until formal adoption, then undertaking amendment to integrate applicable Master Plans as appropriate.
Further discussion included public input process as recommended by consultants; potential neighborhood meetings to gather public input in a less formal setting prior to Public Hearings; whether a complete rewrite was necessary or whether only those portions inconsistent with the updated Comprehensive Plan were indicated; and different land use categories and the need to reshape zoning districts to be consistent with those categories.
Councilmember Pust provided her written comments and preliminary recommendations related to the RFQ to Mr. Trudgeon.
Klausing moved, Roe seconded, authorizing staff to seek qualifications from consultants to assist with the preparation of revisions to the City?s Zoning Code.
Councilmember Ihlan cautioned about the need for rewriting the zoning code rather than simply making minimal changes to meet legal requirements. Councilmember Ihlan advised that she was willing to support the RFQ, as long as the action was not authorizing hiring anyone or fixing the scope of the proposal; and urged the City Council to have those discussion before significant consultant funds were expended; and that minimal requirements be addressed until larger policy questions were defined.
Mayor Klausing clarified that the motion was not to rewrite the zoning code, but to authorize staff to seek qualifications for a consultant to assist with revisions to the zoning code.
Mr. Trudgeon advised that staff would return with specifics of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to the City Council, with staff recommendations, to facilitate further discussion at that time. Mr. Trudgeon noted that the example of form-based zoning was interesting; however, he was not sure if it was the best fit for Roseville; and noted this was the staff's rationale for keeping all options open at this time, and allow for input from available expertise from consultants.
Councilmember Roe spoke in support of a comprehensive look at the zoning code as part of this action; noting that the current code had been in place, as amended, for 50 years; and was an ad hoc code at this point, making it difficult to interpret and enforce, as well as difficult for property owners and developers to interpret; and opined that this was an opportunity to update that code.
d. Discuss Twin Lakes Property Maintenance Code Enforcement
Councilmember Ihlan initiated discussion related to citizen concerns related to Twin Lakes code enforcement issues, as detailed in the Council packet materials. Councilmember Ihlan questioned why code enforcement violations in the Twin Lakes area were not being enforced, and how could they be addressed more systematically; and whether such derelict buildings could be demolished at the property owner's expense rather than spending public monies to remediate blighted properties. Councilmember Ihlan sought to encourage Councilmembers to direct code enforcement action on the identified vacant properties to address public safety concerns.
Mr. Trudgeon noted his e-mail response to the concerned adjacent property owner, providing a context and past history. Mr. Trudgeon clarified that repeated code violations were not justified and imminent redevelopment of the site played a part in the condition of the property. Mr. Trudgeon noted that code enforcement remained complaint driven, given current staffing constraints, and that he had ordered inspection staff to begin categorizing violations. Mr. Trudgeon advised that, at City Council direction, staff could begin the notification process. Mr. Trudgeon noted that the goal of everyone in the long-term was to see the buildings removed and redevelopment proceed; but that he didn't anticipate current property owners to invest money to bring the buildings up to code. Mr. Trudgeon further advised that two of the buildings identified would be demolished as part of this year's anticipated redevelopment in the area. Mr. Trudgeon advised that the best solution would for demolition; however, noted that there was a definite distinction between nuisance and blight; and that multiple policy issues were indicated.
Discussion included incentives to get property owners to remove structures versus ongoing maintenance; definition and intentions of condemnation and/or eminent domain and the status of the buildings at this time; minimum compliance standards by property owners; enforcement from a health, safety and welfare of the community standpoint; similar standards for property owners in Twin Lakes as well as the remainder of the community; and compliance versus demolition considerations for property owners.
City Attorney Anderson noted legislative changes since 2005 for the purposes of undertaking condemnation.
Consensus was that the ultimate objective of the City Council was to see those unsightly properties resolved; with the caveat to not force property owners to reactivate trucking uses, and ultimate improvements for the properties.
Mr. Trudgeon advised that staff would investigate the sites and particular issues; and would provide further research and determine resolution of short-term issues.
Councilmember Pust opined that she would be surprised, upon staff's investigation, if they were not back before the City Council seeking abatements.
Mayor Klausing asked that staff follow-up with those citizens having expressed concerns, advising them of the City Council's discussion; and for staff to copy the City Council on those staff responses as well.
e. Discuss 2009 Utility Rates
Councilmember Ihlan initiated discussion related to her concerns with the City's new water billing structure and achieving conservation rates under that structure, as detailed in the staff report dated March 30, 2009.
Councilmember Ihlan had provided several suggestions for creation of additional usage tiers or blocks to facilitate conservation incentives; and to address larger users paying more. Councilmember Ihlan referenced calculations provided by Senator John Marty's office dated February 23, 2009 and included in the agenda packet materials.
Mayor Klausing noted the two outcomes to be achieved with the new rate structure:
§ Providing long-term financial sustainability for the City's water, sewer and stormwater operations; and
§ Encouraging water conservation in conjunction with the goals and strategies outlined in the City?s Imagine Roseville 2025 Initiatives, as well as a new State law.
Finance Director Chris Miller noted that, while there may be means to design a rate structure, the City was meeting the legal requirements, as detailed in the packet materials, and was meeting the suggested guidelines and accomplishing their two-fold goals.
City Attorney Anderson agreed with the conservation rate attachment in providing guidelines, but not mandating them; however, was unprepared to offer a legal opinion as to the City's compliance without further review.
Discussion among Councilmembers and staff included examples of rates and potential variations; effective rate calculations based on consumption behavior, with the new rate providing for everyone to pay the same base rate up to a certain point, while also addressing underfunding of the infrastructure water system; past reliance by the City on higher users to fund infrastructure improvements and problems anticipated with implementation of a conservation rate structure using that source for financial sustainability for the water system; and transparencies in such a structure as currently in place.
Councilmember Roe suggested that perhaps, in hindsight, the implementation of a base rate and a conservation rate structure should have been phased in, rather than attempted as a combined effort. Councilmember Roe sought clarification as to whether there were ways to mitigate the impact as well as acknowledging suggestions of Councilmember Ihlan and Senator Marty and apparent imbalanced impacts between higher and lower users.
Mr. Miller noted that the City was already well into three billing cycles for 2009; and logistically it would be challenging to communicate another rate structure mid-year, in addition to staff time to do so, without a year's worth of billing for comparison by users with their past usage and rates. Mr. Miller noted that it was not unusual for the City to field approximately 100 phone calls annually related to billings; and that this year, with the new and dramatic changes in the rate structure, they had probably fielded double those calls, out of a total 15,000 water customers. Mr. Miller noted that the vast majority of customers are receiving their bills and a letter explaining changes and personal impacts, without making contact with City Hall. Mr. Miller advised that staff had been careful to let people know that the structure couldn't be measured with only one bill, but measured over an entire calendar year, and if their usage drops they should be able to realize that during the summer, rather than the winter months. Mr. Miller advised that he was continuing review, on an ongoing basis, usage and monitoring impacts to various and typical users.
Councilmember Ihlan opined that there was no economic incentive to conserve water under the new rate structure; and that there was no conservation rates for commercial users other than a seasonal differential.
Mayor Klausing requested that City Attorney Anderson report back to the City Council with a legal opinion as to whether the current policy was consistent with and met state statute requirements; and concurred that, in hindsight, perhaps the rate structure should have been approached differently. However, Mayor Klausing agreed with Mr. Miller that to logistically make changes at this point, without further information and options, would be problematic and even more confusing for customers.
Mr. Miller noted that the state law would be implemented in 2010, and that there was nothing compelling the City to make changes this year.
Councilmember Ihlan reiterated her concern that the current rate structure did not reflect DNR recommendations; and opined that additional tiers were needed to increase the differentials, allowing for policy decision-making by the City Council.
Councilmember Pust requested tiered rate structures from Councilmember Ihlan as examples.
Councilmember Ihlan advised that she could not provide tier structures without further data from staff. Councilmember Ihlan requested additional information from staff as outlined in her e-mail, identified as "Attachment A" and entitled, "2009 Utility Rate Changes."
Mayor Klausing opined his inclination to allow the existing rate structure to move forward for this year, and review it at that time to determine impacts and whether the conservation rate was actually achieved, while meeting basic infrastructure costs.
Mr. Miller advised that some of the additional information would be easy to compile, once he was clear on the objective. Mr. Miller advised that staff had originally recommended and purposely set a 30,000 gallon tier to target and penalize excessive water usage versus standard household use. Mr. Miller advised that the rate structure could be made more restrictive or impact more people, at the directive and discretion of the City Council.
Councilmember Pust opined that a broader discussion related to water conservation was required; noting that if an average family uses 25,000 gallons, while two empty nesters also used 25,000 gallons, she would need more information based on typical family use and how to incent changes in behavior. Councilmember Pust further opined that it would be premature to have staff develop more tiers until there was a clear understanding of why the base rate was changed, which was at the core of the problem; and probably should have been communicated more and better to the public.
Councilmember Johnson opined that he couldn't understand the impact to residents until he'd seen four quarters of use; and whether responses would change throughout the year and provide for more effective conservation by households.
Mr. Miller indicated that, with two months of data available, he couldn't make effective conclusions; and noted that, even with two years worth of data, all that could be seen would be if people are changing their behavior, but there would be no clear determination if that reduction was based on the rate structure of a change in household demographics. Mr. Miller noted that as much as the City desired to show cause/effect, all that could be shown was an aggregate.
Councilmember Roe clarified that it was inaccurate to say that low users paid more than high users, and that was no different in 2009 than it was in 2008; and based on the past rate structure high users paid lower rates than low users based on more gallons over which to spread their base fee. Councilmember Roe opined that the City should not make changes in the course of the year; that the City was attempting to encourage users to conserve with the current rate structure; and that a broader policy discussion was needed before 2010, as suggested by Councilmember Pust.
Mayor Klausing concurred, opining that caution be used in jumping to solutions before defining a problem; and that a broader discussion was indicated. Mayor Klausing asked that Mr. Miller, rather than bringing back more tiered or block information; provide more background information and discussion to incent conservation as the next logical step.
Councilmember Ihlan requested, as part of that information, additional information be provided to show how existing rates provided economic incentives to achieve conservation.
14. City Manager Future Agenda Review
City Manager Malinen reviewed upcoming meeting agendas.
15. Councilmember-Initiated Items for Future Meetings
Councilmember Johnson opined that he was glad to see the Park Master Plan scheduled on an upcoming agenda.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:03 pm.