City of Tyler, Minnesota

Minnesota's Danish Heartland

September 10, 2007

1.      The regularly scheduled meeting of the Tyler City Council was called to order at 7:00 p.m., on September 10, 2007 at the Tyler Fire Hall.  Mayor Harper and Council Members Denney, Hunt, Manson, and Williamson present.  Staff Present: Luger, Lutterman, Petersen, and Spindler.  Guests Present: Dale Kruger, Dacia Burckhardt on behalf of David Norgaard, and the Tyler Fire Department.


2.      The agenda, August 6, 2007, and August 20, 2007 minutes was unanimously approved by the Council.


3.      No items were presented under public express.


4.      Dale Kruger of 210 Lee Avenue presented his variance request of five feet for the front yard setback to the Council.  Luger informed the Council that neighboring residents were notified of the variance request and did not express any opposition.  Manson motioned to approve the five foot variance.  Seconded by Denney and approved unanimously. 


5.      Dacia Burckhardt who represents David Norgaard presented the proposed changes to the hangar lease.  The proposed changes had all been reviewed and agreed to by a committee consisting of Dacia Burckhardt, David Norgaard, Chuck Hunt, Kristi Luger, and Glen Petersen. 


Burckhardt stated that the one of the proposed changes involves the term of the lease; the original lease term is ten years and Norgaard had requested a term of twenty-five years.  The committee agreed to compromise on a lease term of fifteen years.  The next change is in regards to the termination of airport operations.  Burckhardt explained that the original lease required the Lessee to reimburse the City for any demolition and disposal costs; the proposed lease states that whoever terminates the lease will be responsible for these costs.


Denney questioned the rationale for the larger apron and approach size.  Luger stated that the apron and approach sizes are varied between lease agreements, but all of the hangar lots are 50x70 feet.  Harper asked Petersen if the lease agreement is in the best interest of the City, which Petersen responded yes.  Petersen stated that the agreement is fair and the only additional liability the City may incur is the demolition and disposal costs of Norgaard’s hangar.  Hunt agreed that the agreement is fair and believed it encourages hangar development.


Manson motioned to approve David Norgaard’s hangar lease.  Seconded by Hunt and approved unanimously.


6.      Fire Chief Rich Borresen presented a list of equipment priorities to the Council.  He mentioned that the NFPA currently recommends all trucks 25 years and older be rotated out of service.  If this recommendation becomes a law, the City will have to replace over $500,000 worth of equipment.  Borresen stated that replacing the 1975 Class A Pumper is the fire department’s main priority, which would cost approximately $285,000.  Borresen stressed that more money needs to be allocated to their capital outlay budget in order to replace this truck and others.


Borresen stated that the fire department is researching leasing and loan options, but hopes to obtain grant funding through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Harper asked how much FEMA matches, which Borresen responded 95%.  Harper informed the fire department that the Council is in the process of formulating the budget and that their requests would be considered.  Borresen emphasized the funding needs of the fire department and added that it costs over $6,000 to train and clothe a new firefighter.


Luger presented a list of budget comparisons among various fire departments to the Council.  She reported that most of the fire departments included in the list receive more fire service contract revenue than Tyler.  Luger inquired if Tyler’s fire rates are low.  Borresen stated that the rates are calculated using a state formula, which is not used by some cities.  Borresen added that Lake Benton’s rates are cheaper since they do not use the state formula.  Petersen agreed to research the legalities of charging for fire calls.


After some discussion, the Council agreed it would be beneficial for Luger to research the methods other fire departments use to purchase new equipment.  The Council tabled the fire department’s request to obtain more information.


7.      Spindler gave the monthly police report where he stated that the police department received 40 calls for service last month.  Some of those calls included: a two vehicle accident, verbal dispute, child neglect, fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, a fireworks complaint, and a fourth degree DUI arrest.  Manson asked if the police department enforces the ordinance regarding no u-turns on Tyler Street, which Spindler responded yes.


8.      Luger stated that the budget committee recommended the Council raise property taxes by 4%, however with the fire department’s recent equipment requests the Council may want to reconsider the levy.  Hunt questioned the amount budgeted for the fire department’s capital outlay fund.  Luger explained that the 2008 budget allocates $23,000 to the fire department’s capital outlay fund; $12,000 from the fire service contracts and $11,000 from the general fund.  Hunt asked how much money is currently in the fire department’s capital outlay budget, which Luger replied $40,000.


Luger cautioned the Council about raising the preliminary levy artificially high to cover the fire department’s expenses.  She stated that if the Council decides to raise the levy to 10% and gives an additional $10,000 to the fire department’s capital outlay fund, the Council may be unable to lower the levy at a later date.  Luger explained that it would be difficult to cut expenses in order to lower the levy since the proposed budget is tight with a 4% increase.


Manson believed the City would not be able to raise taxes high enough in order to meet the fire department’s needs.  Luger mentioned that most cities do not pay for a new fire truck without some type of cost share.  She stressed that additional funding mechanisms such as grants and loans need to be sought out. 


Luger reiterated her concern in regards to raising taxes significantly to provide funding to the fire department.  She explained that most cities have seen decreases in their Local Government Aid (LGA) funding and that the City of Tyler has been fortunate to have their funding increase.  Luger speculates that taxes will have to increase in the future if LGA funding is ever reduced.  Denney agreed and added that the Council needs to look at the whole picture instead of focusing on one department.


Hunt commented that increasing the levy by 4% is ideal, but leaves no additional funding for the fire department’s requests.  Harper asked if more money was allocated to the Tyler Area Community Club for Aebleskiver Days, which Luger responded no since they had not made a formal request.  Luger added that $5,000 is budgeted for the Lake Benton Lake Improvement District and the airport’s capital outlay fund has $10,000 allotted for a new lawnmower. 


Manson motioned to set the proposed property tax levy at a 10% increase.  Seconded by Harper and approved unanimously.  Denney remarked that he disliked setting the preliminary levy artificially high.  Harper believed the action was necessary to give the Council time to respond to the fire department’s requests.


Luger recommended setting the Truth-in-Taxation hearing on December 3, 2007, which is the same night as the Council meeting.  Denney motioned to set the Truth-in-Taxation hearing at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, December 3, 2007 at the Fire Hall.  Seconded by Williamson and approved unanimously. 


9.      Petersen reminded the Council that there is an ordinance that states all salvage yards must completely screen their operations or apply for a special use permit before March 6, 2008.  This ordinance currently affects two businesses, Dressen’s Body Shop and Christensen Metal Yard.  Petersen stated that in order for these businesses to comply with this ordinance they would either have to apply for a conditional use permit or place an eight foot high fence around the perimeter of their property.  Petersen and Luger believed these requirements could place a hardship on the existing business owners and recommended the Council grandfather in the current owners.  Once the business has a change in ownership, the new owner is required to meet the provisions of the code within two years. 


Petersen stated that the Council can handle this situation three ways: enforce the ordinance as written on the current owners, enforce the ordinance once the business changes ownership, or grandfather in the current salvage yard operations indefinitely.  Petersen recommended the Council grandfather in the existing business owners since they are good businesses.  Harper agreed and commented that it would be pointless to enforce the ordinance at this time since the Council would more than likely grant them a variance since they are good business owners.  Hunt asked if the City has received any complaints in regards to Dressen’s, which Luger responded no.  Luger stated that since the surrounding property owners seem to be comfortable with this business she did not believe it was imperative to enforce the ordinance at this time. 


The Council agreed to grandfather in the existing salvage yard owners and to enforce the ordinance when the business changes ownership.  Petersen and Luger agreed to send a letter informing the salvage yards of this ordinance and the provision.


10.  Petersen informed the Council that the City officially owns the former Nicky Thompson property bordering Stony Point.  Luger stated that the adjacent property owner has inquired about the City sharing the cost of having the area surveyed.  Harper stated that if the area is surveyed by the adjacent property owner, the City will know where their property lines are located.


Petersen encouraged the Council to set up a committee to determine the best use for the former Nicky Thompson property.  Petersen believed the City could generate more revenue if a dump station was added and the campsites were improved.  


11.  Luger gave the monthly TRED report where she mentioned that TRED recently sold the former Fancy Free building to Wally Dybdahl, which will be demolished to expand his current business operations.  Petersen asked if Punt’s development is regularly inspected; which Luger replied yes, by a licensed building inspector.


12.  Luger mentioned that the downtown tree and sidewalk committee had originally recommended the Council allow businesses to either keep or remove their trees.  The City would support businesses by replacing the brick after the tree has been destroyed or assisting with the expenses of replacing the tree and grate.  Luger stated that since the committee met she has discovered that it is more difficult and expensive to remove the trees than originally anticipated.  Hunt believed the issue should be tabled to give the committee more time to study the issue.  The Council agreed to table the topic until the October Council meeting.


13.  Luger explained that Rehab Loan Client #45 has completely paid off their loan, which needs to be officially acknowledged by the Council.  Motion by Hunt to recognize that Rehab Loan Client #45 has satisfied their rehab loan.  Seconded by Manson and approved unanimously. 


14.  Lutterman gave the monthly utility report where he introduced Scott Plakke, the future utility superintendent and mentioned that all of the utilities for Punt’s development are installed.


Luger reported that some lifeguards were under the impression that the City would reimburse their CPR expenses.  Luger stated that in the past the Council has agreed to pay for half of the Water Safety Instructor (WSI) course and to reimburse individuals for the full cost of the lifeguard training course once they have worked at the pool for 60 hours.  The Council agreed to pay for these courses since the City had difficulty recruiting lifeguards and WSI instructors.  Harper commented that CPR training could be used for other employment whereas the WSI and lifeguard training courses are only applicable to lifeguarding.  After some discussion, Harper motioned to reimburse the lifeguards for their CPR expenses.  Seconded by Hunt and approved unanimously.


Luger informed the Council that Rural Water has raised their water rates by ten cents per gallon and recommended the City raise their water rates by ten cents per gallon to accommodate for the increase.  Denney motioned to increase the water usage fee by ten cents per thousand gallons effective next month.  Seconded by Williamson and approved unanimously.    


15.  Harper reported that he narrowly missed an altercation with a resident over their code enforcement letter.  The situation has been resolved.


16.  Motion by Denney to approve the bills.  Seconded by Manson and approved unanimously.


17.  There being no further business before the Council, Mayor Harper adjourned the meeting at 9:25 p.m.


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