Council questions charter commission expenses
FAIRMONT– The Fairmont City Council considered an additional budget request from the Fairmont Charter Commission during the city council meeting on Monday. At its last meeting, The charter commission had requested an additional $2,500 from the city council to support its ongoing work.
City Administrator Cathy Reynolds said to date the charter commission has spent roughly $2,139 but additional charges will still be coming through.
At the start of the city council meeting, during the public comment portion, charter commission member Chuck Omvig said the members were given binders, which they did not ask for, and charged for them.
Council Member Randy Lubenow asked whether the city provided the binders. Reynolds said she had been emailing charter commission members materials but then the charter commission passed a motion for each member to be given hard copies of some documents.
“With the passing of the motion, we prepared binders so they would each have and could easily haul back and forth to the meetings and have all of the materials in one location,” Reynolds said.
She pointed out that unlike the city council members, charter commission members don’t have an iPad available at meetings where they can access documents electronically.
Council Member Britney Kawecki asked why they were given all documents when only some were requested. She also asked if all other commissions are charged for paper copies made.
“Charter commission is a separate body that is not a city council-appointed commission or board, it is a judicial commission that is governed by state statute… it sets a budget for a charter commission that a city is required to support a charter commission with,” Reynolds said.
She said it also provides opportunity for a charter commission to request additional funds.
Kawecki made a motion to approve the request for additional funds due to the fact that they requested certain documents and entire binders were produced and they were charged for the entire cost.
Council Member Wayne Hasek asked if the charter commission was given the budget amount. Reynolds said she doesn’t recall if the entire commission was made aware of the budget amount.
He then asked how much of what the charter commission has spent has been on legal fees. It was shared that about $1,072 has been spent on legal fees for questions addressed to the city attorney.
Lubenow said a lot of the members are older and have poor eyesight. He said he didn’t think they should be charged for the copies.
Council Member Bruce Peters suggested giving the charter commission an additional $1,000.
City Attorney Mark Rahrick said that state statute provides that the charter commission may employ an attorney or other personnel to assist in revising the charter and that it goes on to say that the city pays for three things: reasonable compensation of that
personnel, cost of printing and cost of informing citizens of any amendments or revisions up to the limit that has been set forth.
Rahrick clarified that what he has charged is relating to the charter and his work for the city.
There was then discussions on whether or not the charter commission should have been charged for the documents and for all of the time spent asking the city attorney questions.
In a roll call vote, the motion failed 4-1 with Lubenow voting yes. Lubenow made a motion that the council table the item until they know what the charter commission should have been charged for and what it was charged for. The motion passed.
In other news, the council approved the purchase of five shade structures, three at Winnebago Avenue Sports Complex and two at Jeffrey Kot Fields. The budget included $50,000 for the shade structures. The cost for the shade structures came in at $26,100.
Additional concrete work is needed ahead of installation of the structures. That work is estimated at $15,000 to $20,000, which would put the project just under the total budget.
City Engineer Troy Nemmers said that the plan is to have city staff install the units at both locations, to save costs, and hire a contractor to install the necessary concrete slabs at each location.
Nemmers also provided a presentation on proposed updates to the city’s stormwater management ordinance during Monday’s meeting as a public hearing was held for it.
As for why the ordinance needs to be updated, Nemmers said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) goes through a process roughy every five year and the new requirements it puts out need to be met. The changes approved this year by the MPCA required the stormwater ordinance to be addressed.
The three main areas covered under the stormwater management regulation are illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction site stormwater runoff control and post construction stormwater management.
“One of the big things is… regarding the list of discharge, there’s been a lot of research done on chlorides into lakes and stormwater runoff so they’ve written that in regarding salt storage with every community adding salt to the streets in the winter,” Nemmers explained.
He said another big change is the post construction stormwater management, which requires a water quality volume that must be treated on each project. He said while it previously existed, the volume requirements have gone up.
Council Member Wayne Hasek asked how you treat stormwater. Nemmers shared several ways to do it, including rain gardens and iron sand filters.
The ordinance will come back for possible adoption at a future council meeting.
In other action, the council adopted the position pointing and non-union pay scale as presented in the Position Classification and Compensation Study report prepared by Abdo and presented Aug. 22. It will be implemented Dec. 31, 2022.