Regular Council Meeting
February 20, 2023 – 6:00 P.M.
Community Media Center
Mayor David Goedken called the meeting to order. Council present were: Chris Lux, Candy Langerman, Wayne Peach, Brenda Hanken, Scott Brighton and Tom Yeoman. Also present were City Administrator Russell Farnum, City Clerk Sally Hinrichsen, Police Chief Britt Smith, Park & Rec Director Jacob Oswald, Library Director Faith Brehm, Water /Wastewater Superintendent Jim Tjaden and Public Works Director Nic Kahler. The public was invited to attend the meeting in person, with limited seating or to participate in the meeting electronically via “Zoom Meetings” and were encouraged to communicate from Zoom Meeting via chat.
Yeoman moved to approve the agenda, Langerman seconded, roll call was unanimous.
Langerman moved to approve the consent agenda; Peach seconded, roll call was unanimous.
Mayor Goedken opened the public hearing to consider the Maximum Tax Dollars to be collected by the City from certain levies for the City’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023-2024 Budget. Staff received no written comments; however, the staff received several inquiries on the proposed max levy. Mary Phelan, 1040 Riverview Court, stated she values the services provided by taxes, but urged Council to sharpen their pencil and look for ways to cut the budget. Mayor closed the Public Hearing to consider the Maximum Tax Dollars to be collected by the City from certain levies for the City’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023-2024 Budget.
Farnum reviewed several aspects of the proposed budget and how the max levy is calculated. The City has kept the tax rate virtually the same since 2005, over 18 years, with a slow, steady growth in the taxable value. City used cash balances to lower the tax levy in past years. An efficiency implemented by the staff is the new phone system which is saving over $1,000/month on phone service and more on long distant calls. As the State implemented rollbacks, starting in 2014, the reduction in property tax revenue was “made up” by the State through “backfill” payments. Recent State actions continue to decrease the taxable value of property, and the State is phasing out the rollback payments to local governments. State legislation has been introduced that would have the State absorb any Local Option Sales and Services Tax revenue, that was voted on and approved by the residents of Monticello to be used for property tax relief. If approved, this will reduce Monticello’s revenues by an additional $400,000 to $500,000 annually. City has seen increases in general expenses and property insurance is expected to increase 8% to 25% and they are also increasing the values of the buildings and equipment. Employee contracts expire in July and the City needs to raise wages 5% to 33% to stay competitive and retain current staff. Farnum reviewed the requests for additional staff in the water and sewer department, Public Works department and Park and Recreation department. Goedken suggested possibly cutting yard waste pickup service and residents would have to take to the yard waste site to dispose it. Audrey Savage, 717 West First Street, suggested Council look at proposed increases to staff; and if City really needs new staff? Savage suggested holding a volunteer day, which would lift the attitudes in the community. Yeoman moved to approve Resolution #2023-30 approval of FY 2024 Maximum Property Tax Dollars, Peach seconded, roll call unanimous, except Hanken who voted nay.
Brighton moved to approve Resolution #2023-31 Scheduling Public Hearing on the City of Monticello 2023/2024 Fiscal Year budget for March 20, 2023 at 6:00 p.m., Lux seconded. Roll call was unanimous.
Yeoman moved to approve Resolution #2023-32 Approving Christopher and Sarah Bone Tax Abatement Application related to Residential Improvements constructed at 903 Northridge Drive, Monticello, Iowa. Brighton seconded, roll call was unanimous.
Farnum stated the City has bonded every couple of years, doing a larger street project once, followed by several smaller projects in an attempt to keep the debt service levy fairly steady around 2.50/$1000 taxable valuation. Goedken stated if City keeps the debt levy at 2.5, then the City will be going backward, as prices to do projects continue to increase, so less work is completed. Langerman moved to approve Resolution #2023-33 Approving engagement letter with Dorsey & Whitney LLP related to role as bond counsel for the General Obligation borrowing to fund certain capital projects. Lux seconded, roll call was unanimous.
Brighton moved to approve Resolution #2023-34 setting the date for a public hearing on proposal to enter into a General Obligation Corporate Purpose Loan Agreement and to borrow money thereunder in a principal amount not to exceed $2,500,000. Peach seconded, roll call was unanimous. Hearing will be held on March 6, 2023 at 6:00 P.M.
Langerman moved to approve Resolution #2023-35 Approving $1,500.00 Credit against Carter Balentine’s utility billing for the property located at 418 East First Street, Brighton seconded, roll call was unanimous.
Oswald reported they were looking to hire up to three seasonal staff, for May and June, which is the busiest time and then cut back to two seasonal staff for the rest of the summer season. They are looking at two working 32 to 40 hours per week and the other would work 20 to 30 hours per week. Yeoman moved to approve Resolution #2023-36 Approving the hiring of up to three Park and Recreation summer staff and setting wage, Lux seconded, roll call was unanimous, except Hanken who voted nay.
Goedken stated Oswald and Arduser tried to save tax dollars, however moving the location and material used for the ice-skating rink, did not provide a nice skating rink this year. Goedken was questioned why the rink was moved. The skaters liked the shelter, as there was less snow to be removed. They also questioned if other sports provide maintenance of their area, as they are expected to remove the snow before they can skate. It was stated the condition of the rink is dependent on the weather. This year, with temperatures fluctuating so much each week, it was not a good year for the rink.
Farnum reported working on budget, with Hinrichsen. Farnum continues to work on various other projects.
Hinrichsen reported in calendar year 2022, City received 45 offset hits and collected $8,786.34. So far in 2023, we have received 13 hits and will be collecting $2,121.00.
Hinrichsen was invited by the League of Cities to a roundtable on City Finance Working Group. The group was put together to discuss pending legislation and the mechanics and impacts on city finance and possible solutions for the League to take back to the Legislators to consider prior to moving forward with the legislation. It was a very productive session.
Hinrichsen met with Farnum, Dorsey staff and Matt Stoffel with PFM on proposed bonding that was discussed earlier this evening.
Kahler stated they been busy with snow removal and preparing for the next storm coming this week.
Smith reported an officer was injured during an arrest early this morning.
Tjaden reported the well at sewer plant was leaking and needed to be pulled to fix the leak. They sent the copper-lead survey out and receive 2/3 of them back.
Oswald reported swimming lesson sign up, and baseball/softball registration has started.
Oswald reported the first session of volunteering training was held. Oswald, Brehm, Hinrichsen and Kegan Arduser are representing the City with Deb Bowman and Brian Wolken of Main Street also attending.
Brehm reported only two sessions left on their religion program.
Peach motioned to adjourn the meeting at 6:58 P.M. Council took a short break and then held a budget work session until 8:00 P.M., reviewing the proposed budgets.
David Goedken, Mayor
Sally Hinrichsen, City Clerk/Treasurer