Regular Meeting Ely City Council –December 07, 2021

Regular Meeting Ely City Council – City Hall,
Council Chambers
December 07, 2021

CALL TO ORDER
The regular meeting of the Ely City Council was called to order by Mayor Skraba at 5:33pm in the Council Chambers.
Pledge of Allegiance
PRESENT: Council members A.Forsman, Kess, Debeltz, Omerza, Callen, Campbell, and Mayor Skraba
ABSENT: None

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Callen/Campbell moved to approve the minutes from the November 16, 2021 Public Hearing on Rezoning Savoy Rd, November 16, 2021 Public Hearing on 2nd Hand Goods Permissible Uses, November 16, 2021 Regular Council Meeting and November 30, 2021 Special Council Meeting. Motion carried unanimously.

ADDITIONS OR OMISSIONS TO AGENDA:
A. Additions 13.F Memorandum of Understanding Between City of Ely and Supervisor of Essential Employees
Omerza/Debeltz moved to accept Addition A. Motion Carried Unanimously.

MAYOR’S REPORT:
Mayor Skraba indicated former first female mayor Lolita Schnitzius passed away. Skraba stated that she was mayor till the end, always rooting for Ely; we are going to miss her wit and humor.
A moment of silence was had for Lolita to reflect back on what she meant to us.
Kess/Omerza moved to send flowers and a note of recognition to the funeral. Motion Carried Unanimously.
Stories were told about some of the great things Lolita has done in the community.

Mayor Skraba indicated that tomorrow is the last day to get a letter into the DNR to make comment on the states nonferrous mine rules in the BWCA area.
Omerza/Kess moved to send a letter to the state DNR in support of upholding the current non-ferrous mining rules in place in Minnesota. Motion Carried Unanimously.

CONSENT AGENDA:
A. Motion to waive readings in entirety of all ordinances and resolutions on tonight’s agenda.
B. Approve Council to attend the 2022 Elected Leaders Institute in Plymouth February 4-5, 2021.
Omerza/Kess moved to approve the consent agenda items A and B. Motion Carried Unanimously.

REQUESTS TO APPEAR: None

COMMITTEE REPORTS:
Standing/Special
Library Board: Minutes included in the Council Packet.

Ely Utilities Commission
A.Forsman/Callen moved to approve the recommendation from EUC to move forward with the In Control, Inc. proposal for the WWTF Mercury Project. Motion Carried Unanimously.

A.Forsman/Campbell moved to approve the recommendation from EUC to approve the request from Judy Niemela to carry over unused vacation into 2022. Motion Carried Unanimously.

Recommendation from EUC to hire Kimberly Koivisto for the Utility Billing Clerk position. – Already approved by the council at the previous council meeting.

A.Forsman/Debeltz moved to approve the recommendation from EUC to approve the MN Power Service Agreement for 2022-2029.
Langowski indicated that this is the service contract that we have been working on for some time with Northeast Minnesota Municipal Power (NEMMPA) group. Comparing our wholesale rate from last January to this coming January it will be a 15% reduction. The utility bills that the customers have been receiving for the last year there has been a fuel adjustment charge, the fuel adjustment charge is going away, and we will see some minor savings on the rest of the rates. It will be a significant savings to the customers in the future.
A.Forsman stated that there were 13 communities that got together to use the buying power to approve this agreement. It took 2 years of dedication and hard work to get this completed. A.Forsman commended the group and Harold for being a part of the group, it was very important to get this contract negotiated.
Motion Carried Unanimously.

A.Forsman/Callen moved to approve the recommendation from EUC to approve payment of the EUC October Bills for $446,653.68. Motion Carried Unanimously.

Planning & Zoning- Minutes included in the council packet.

Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC): Minutes included in the council packet.

Telecommunications Advisory Board (TAB):
Debeltz/Omerza moved to approve looking into the city possibly taking over on the webcams that are around town.
Langowski stated that the webcams were owned and operated by Richard Watson; the equipment was getting old and outdated. We will discuss it with Watson about the city potentially taking the cameras over. With the new fiber connections this could be feasible and we can look into cameras.
Motion Carried Unanimously.

Employee Relations
Recommendation from Employee Relations to reaffirm the hiring of Kim Koivisto as approved by the city council. – Already approved at the previous council meeting.

Omerza/Campbell moved to approve the recommendation from Employee Relations to approve the revisions to the Waste Water Operator I, II, III, IV job description and post the Water/Wastewater Operator position internally.
Langowski indicated hopefully this will be an incentive for new hires to get to higher levels as they get their different classes of licenses.
Motion Carried Unanimously.

Omerza/Debeltz moved to approve the recommendation from Employee Relations to approve the revisions to the Electric Lineman Foreman job description and post the Electrical Lineman Foreman position internally. Motion Carried Unanimously.

Mayor Skraba recessed the council meeting at 6pm for the Truth in Taxation meeting.
Mayor Skraba reconvened the council meeting at 6:20pm.

Omerza/Campbell moved to approve the recommendation from Employee Relations that Clerk Langowski work with AFSCME to complete the appropriate letter of understanding regarding hiring a potential Equipment Operator Trainee and work on a job description for Equipment Operator Trainee to allow for this posting.
Omerza indicated that she appreciates the clerk and union looking forward to the future with the workforce shortage.
Mayor Skraba indicated that we have posted twice for the Equipment operator II position, the first time we got one qualified applicant that did not accept the position and the 2nd time we did not get any applicants. Skraba stated that the state, county and individual businesses are all having troubles finding workers.
Kess indicated that it is important that we build from within, by having these trainee positions it puts people pipeline of giving people the experience of working for the city and experiencing the benefits, as well as the work.
Langowski indicated that we have room in the AFSCME contract to in the wage category to include an equipment operator trainee. The Equipment Operator Trainee would be required to get a CDL within 6 months of hire then they would be bumped up to Equipment Operator I, then when they have the experience time they would be bumped to Equipment Operator II. We are going to post this position as Equipment Operator trainee, Equipment Operator I, and Equipment Operator II. We have two positions open and we were planning on posting a third position mid-summer. In public works we typically have a staff of 9 but we are down to a staff of 6, we are pulling in staff from different departments to help plow. We have the staff to get the job done, but it might just take a little longer. The crew did a very good job with this last snowfall.
Motion Carried Unanimously.

Recommendation from Employee Relations to start the Assistant Police Chief position at $79,000 salary in 2021 with 2022 to follow the existing contract negotiated raise. – On the agenda under new business

Recommendation from Employee Relations to allow for the accrual of 120 hours of vacation in the first year for the Assistant Police Chief and to direct Attorney Klun to revise the Supervisors of Essential Employees contract to include this language. – On the agenda under new business

Matter of information – City Hall will be closed on Friday, December 24th and Monday December 27th for Christmas and on Friday December 31st and Monday January 3rd for New Years.

Range Association of Municipalities & Schools (RAMS): Minutes included in the council packet]

DEPARTMENTAL REPORTS:
Clerk-Treasurer
Callen/Omerza moved to approve the low quote for Material Testing needed for the WWTF project to Northeast Technical Services at $4,576. Motion Carried Unanimously.

Fire Chief:
Chief Marshall indicated that he let the firefighters know about MnFire which is free emotional support for family and firefighters.
Chief Marshall and Assistant Chief Zobitz attended a fire chief boot camp last weekend in Grand Rapids which was put on by the State Fire Marshal Division. Marshall stated that it was a no cost event and it was a very valuable conference.
Chief Marshall discussed the recent calls for the department.

Library Director
Library director Heinrich discussed the current programing at the library which can be found on the Library website. The Library will be closed December 23 and 24 for Christmas and December 30 and December 31 for New Years.

Police Chief
Chief Houde gave an update on the hiring process; both Assistant Police Chief Mike Lorenz and Police Officer Zach Ward have completed their background and psychological checks. The Assistant Chief is going to start on December 21st and the Police officer is going to start on January 5th.

City Attorney
i. Hazardous Buildings at: 726 E Camp St, 1811 E Chapman, and 1945 E Harvey St
Attorney Klun indicated that we had the 3 hearings on these properties earlier this evening and she will prepare the 3 Resolutions/Orders for the next council agenda.

ii. Blight Property at 21 W Shagawa
Attorney Klun stated that we will schedule hearings for these properties after the New Year, seeking to get compliance from these properties in early spring.
Langowski stated that the property owner has been assessed fines for not complying with the previous order. Through this summer and fall the property has gotten worse. The utilities to the property have been disconnected and it has been posted uninhabitable by the Building Official. The neighbors have been complaining about this property, a vehicle is being idled to run an inverter to run a source of power for the house. This property needs to get cleaned up sooner than later and we need to have compliance on these issues, this has been a long going issue.

iii. Blight Property at 79 W Chandler
Langowski gave a background on this property from the Inspection report. The property has been posted uninhabitable as on September 19, 2021 and the Electric has been shut off to the property. The Structure is Electrically Hazardous. The exterior of the structure is not maintained in a workman like state of maintenance and repair. Additions are being constructed without permits or inspections. The yard is covered with accumulations of junk, debris, garbage, and refuse. Yards are covered household furnishings or appliances, wheels, tires, and salvage.
Langowski indicated that the electric has been disconnected because of an unsafe electrical service panel and wiring, this was an imminent health hazard for either electrocution or fire. The property owner has been working with the state electrical inspector to get it inspected. We have learned that if a permit has not been pulled, it doesn’t merit having the electrical inspector inspect it. The owners are working on the electrical service to get it in compliance. Looking at the pictures it is going to take them awhile to clean up the property.

iv. Blight Property at 283 N 5th Ave E
Building Official Whitney indicated that this is a rental property. We will work with the owner, but the tenant is the one that has all the vehicles, junk and debris on the property.

City Engineer

COMMUNICATIONS: Matter of Information
Correspondence from Youth in Action regarding the annual Make a Difference Conference

CLAIMS FOR PAYMENT:
A. City and EUC claims for December 7, 2021 - $331,576.74
B. Greater Minnesota Parks & Trails 2022 Membership dues for $150.00
Debeltz/Callen moved to approve the Claims for Payment items A and B. Motion Carried Unanimously.

OLD BUSINESS:
A. Committee Seat Applications
Omerza/Debeltz moved to appoint Scott James King to the Library Board with the term expiring 1/31/2024. Motion Carried Unanimously.

Campbell/A.Forsman moved to appoint Emily Roose to the Planning & Zoning Commission with the term expiring 1/31/2024. Motion Carried Unanimously.

B. Callen/Debeltz moved to approve the 2nd Reading Ordinance No. 348 2nd Series, An Ordinance of the City of Ely, Minnesota, Adding to the Ely City Code, Chapter 20, Section 20.1.25, Entitled Zoning Map Amendment.
Attorney Klun indicated that this is for the rezoning of the parcels on Savoy Road from P to RT.
Roll Called: Council Member A.Forsman – Yes, Kess-Yes, Debeltz-Yes, Omerza-Yes, Callen-Yes, Campbell – Yes, Mayor Skraba- Yes. Motion Carried Unanimously.

C. Debeltz/Callen moved to approve the 2nd Reading Ordinance No. 349 2nd Series, An Ordinance of the City of Ely, Minnesota, Adding Chapter 20, Section 20.2.56 Sales of Land City Code of the City of Ely.
Attorney Klun indicated that this is the sale of land on the Savoy Road to the Loe’s.
Roll Called: Council Member A.Forsman – Yes, Kess-Yes, Debeltz-Yes, Omerza-Yes, Callen-Yes, Campbell – Yes, Mayor Skraba- Yes. Motion Carried Unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS:
A. Omerza/Callen moved to approve all 2022 Tobacco License renewal applications pending the receipt of all required documentation and payment for the term of 1/1/2022-12/31/2022. Motion Carried Unanimously.

B. Omerza/A.Forsman moved to approve the League of Minnesota Cities Liability Coverage Waiver Form by checking Does not Waive. Motion Carried Unanimously.

C. A.Forsman/Campbell moved to approve Resolution 2021-056 Resolution Designating 2022 Polling Precinct Location for the City of Ely. Roll Called: Council Member A.Forsman – Yes, Kess-Yes, Debeltz-Yes, Omerza-Yes, Callen-Yes, Campbell – Yes, Mayor Skraba- Yes. Motion Carried Unanimously.

D. A.Forsman/Omerza moved to approve the Minnesota Power Electric Service Agreement from January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2029. Motion Carried Unanimously.

E. Kess/Debeltz moved to approve Resolution 2021-057 Resolution Opting to Increase the Benefit Level for Firefighters who are Vested in the Statewide Volunteer Firefighter Plan. Roll Called: Council Member A.Forsman – Yes, Kess-Yes, Debeltz-Yes, Omerza-Yes, Callen-Abstain, Campbell – Yes, Mayor Skraba- Yes. Motion Carried 6-0-1 with Callen abstaining since he benefits from this as a firefighter.

F. Omerza/Debeltz moved to approve the Memorandum of Understanding between City of Ely and Supervisor of Essential Employees. Motion Carried Unanimously.

OPEN FORUM: None

ADJOURN:
Mayor Skraba adjourned the meeting without objection at 6:54pm.

Casey Velcheff
Deputy Clerk

Ely Echo December 25, 2021