MINUTES – MORRIS CITY COUNCIL REGULAR
MEETING – AUGUST 26, 2014
The regular meeting of the
Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 26th
day of August, 2014, by Mayor Giese in the Council Chambers of the Morris
Senior Citizens/Community Center.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE: The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
ROLL CALL: Roll call was taken with the following
members present: Council member Wohlers, Miller, Storck and Mayor
Giese. Council member Solvie was absent. Also present was City
Manager Hill, Finance Director Raasch, Fire Chief Dybdal, Public Works Director
Dittbenner, City Engineer Fier and Police Chief Tiegs.
CITIZEN’S COMMENTS: None
PUBLIC HEARINGS: Resolution Approving Property Tax
Abatements and Awarding a Business Subsidy to Assist in Financing Improvements
to be Made by Dripps Automotive LLC in the City of Morris, MN: Mayor
Giese moved up the Resolution Approving an updated Subsidy Assistance Policy to
coincide with this agenda item.
City Manager Hill stated
the city has had an assistance policy in the past but it needs to be changed to
make it more generic to include JOBZ, tax abatements and tax increment
Hill stated the Dripps
Automotive request is a proposed agreement to abate $225,000 worth of taxes
over a period of 15 years. This would provide assistance to Heartland
Motors to move to a new location and put up a new building. Hill noted
that there is a resolution on the agenda to approve the final plat for Riley's Commercial
Development where this new business would go. Hill explained that part of
the abatement requires some job creation goals.
Hill stated that in
talking with the project manager from MN DOT, they will still move forward with
the Highway 28 project and keep the turn lanes by Superior, but if this project
doesn’t move forward they will eliminate the turn lanes on highway 28 and 9
that go into this development. If the turn lanes are not put in now, they
will not be put in at a later date unless it is at the expense of the
Dan Dripps, 600 West 5th
Street, was present at the meeting and gave some background on this project.
Dripps stated part of GM’s vision is to improve all their Chevy dealerships so
when they looked into a remodel it was going to cost approximately $1 million.
Dripps stated they then looked into building new and after factoring everything
in, including land acquisition, infrastructure and site prep they got close to $3.5
million. Dripps noted he heard from a lot of people that it would be good
for the community to get something going in that corner of the development.
Dripps pointed out they are not eligible for TIF because this would be new
construction so tax abatement was another option. Dripps explained that
the project won’t move forward if the tax abatement from all three entities
doesn’t go through. Dripps stated they’re stretching themselves by doing
this project and they’re not in a huge, booming economy or a growing economy.
Dripps stated the company
has started hiring in anticipation of the project and will commit to having a
total of 35 jobs within two years.
Dripps stated he would be
buying his land from Paul Martin and paying Riley’s for the
infrastructure. All other lots would be sold through Riley’s with the infrastructure
built into the cost. Miller noted it looks like there are 15 lots and
wondered if there would be 14 more people coming to the city looking for
abatement. Council member Wohlers stated that wouldn’t necessarily be a
bad thing because if people are asking for assistance that means they're
interested in developing something. Giese added that he thinks this is a
great investment for the city.
Hill noted the city talked
about doing tax abatement for the whole area but each project has to stand on
its own as to what they’re going to be doing and what they need for tax
abatement and why. Hill stated they would rather have TIF but it doesn’t
meet any of the TIF requirements because it's undeveloped.
Council member Storck
stated he wants to see the city grow and it will probably grow a lot quicker
than people think once this takes off. Wohlers stated he believes the
city has to look at what it can potentially gain, not what it is giving
Hill explained there is an
added cost for having to come off the highway onto a frontage road, as opposed
to getting a driveway off the highway to a business so that has really cranked
up the cost.
Miller asked if Dripps was
planning to use any of the economic development funds available through the
city and county. Dripps stated he does plan to.
Tom Krusemark, Valu Ford -
205 Highway 9 South, stated he operates two dealerships and asked if they would
have to move forward and split up if they would be eligible for tax abatement
to build a new building on that property. Hill noted they absolutely
would be eligible. They would have to come and make an application to the
city. Hill indicated it would be a hard one to turn down if one has
already been done for a car dealership. Hill pointed out that TIF may be an
option available to redo the existing dealership.
Michael Haynes stated the real
difference between TIF and tax abatement is the authorities granting
ability. TIF is just the city. Haynes stated it is unrealistic to
think that someone would come in to develop this property without assistance.
Haynes noted he doesn’t see it being anything but a cornfield for the next 30
years without this assistance.
Haynes explained that abatement
is not unfamiliar to other cities, big and small. This is a signal to the
outside world that the city is willing to invest in businesses. Haynes indicated
they are ready to make a pretty good loan to Dripps. Haynes stated there
is also a hotel that is very interested in buying property in this development.
Geoff Richardson, 709
Wyoming Avenue, stated he thinks tax abatement is a good tool but it should be
used to attract new businesses to the area. Richardson expressed concern
about what would happen to the other properties, like Thrifty White or Town and
Hill stated one of the
things out here on the prairie is that we don’t lure big businesses as much as
we grow what’s already here. The city tries to help and if they say no,
then there won’t be development. Hill stated it's hard to get
things developed without some kind of assistance. Miller noted that
Dripps has an agreement with Superior to buy his existing
With regard to the
downtown businesses, Haynes indicated he has businesses looking for open space
to relocate and there are no empty buildings. Haynes stated Thrifty White
would like drive through capabilities and their wanting to move has nothing to
do with the current property owners.
Richardson reiterated that
he appreciates the tools the city is talking about but wondered why the city
would resort to that when it’s not generating new business. Mayor Giese stated
if it’s generating 15 new jobs that is as good as generating new
Wohlers stated he believes
this is a defining moment in this town's history. Wohlers indicated he
would be abstaining from voting as an employee of Heartland Motors. Wohlers
gave a brief history on the Dripps family presence in Morris.
Storck stated he believes
that the project should be a go. Miller stated he hates to see the city waive
taxes but it's a big development and if this goes through other things will
happen for the city.
Hill noted he would share
this agreement with the county and school because if either of those two
entities rejects it it will be null and void.
Mayor Giese closed the
public hearing at 6:03 p.m. and brought the matter back to the council for
Giese stated he believes
this sends a message to the business community that the city is pro-business
and that we do what we can to help businesses.
Council member Storck
moved, seconded by Miller, to adopt Resolution #3248-8-14, Resolution Approving
Property Tax Abatements and Awarding a Business Subsidy to Assist in Financing
Improvements. Upon a roll call vote taken and Council members Miller,
Storck and Mayor Giese voting in favor and Council member Wohlers abstaining
and Council member Solvie being absent, motion carried.
County member Miller
moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to adopt Resolution #3249-8-14, Resolution
Approving an Updated Subsidy Assistance for Private Development Policy.
Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.
READING AND APPROVAL OF
MINUTES: 8/11/14 Regular
Meeting Minutes: Council member Miller moved, seconded by Wohlers, to
approve the 8/11/14 regular meeting minutes. Motion carried.
Version Minutes: Council
member Wohlers moved, seconded by Miller, to approve the 8/11/14 condensed
version minutes. Motion carried.
CONSENT AGENDA: Mayor Giese moved, seconded by
Council member Wohlers, to approve the consent agenda which included the
of City Bills
Pay Estimate #5 – F & S Concrete
Order – Airport Hangar
Pay Estimate – Airport Hangar
Dance Permit – Old #1
& Expenditure Report
PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND
Reports from American Legion: Council member Miller moved, seconded
by Storck, to accept the gambling reports from the American Legion. Upon
a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor and Mayor Giese
abstaining as an officer of the Legion, motion carried.
Approving a School Resource Officer Agreement for the 2014-2015 School Year:
Hill stated the school wanted to go from 2/3 time to half time. This
amounts in about a $1,200 difference from the last agreement. Tiegs noted
they essentially had to use some of this money to pay for a different mandate
from the state. This means that the officer will be at the school three
or four days a week instead of five. Tiegs stated that even though it was
considered a 2/3 position before, it was still closer to full-time because it
was advantageous to the department for investigations and problems down the
Council member Miller
moved, seconded by Council member Wohlers, to adopt Resolution #3250-8-14,
Resolution Approving a School Resource Officer Agreement for the 2014-2015
School Year. Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor,
Final Plat of Riley's Commercial Development: Hill noted the only issue with this plat is that the city probably
doesn't want to file it until the vacation of streets on the old plat is
Council member Wohlers
moved, seconded by Miller, to adopt Resolution #3251-8-14, Resolution Approving
Final Plat of Riley's Commercial Development. Upon a roll call vote taken
and all present voting in favor, motion carried.
the Submission of a DNR Park Legacy Grant Application: Hill stated the Park Board has been looking
at doing something with the old concession stand at PDT Park for a long time
and there is a need for additional showers/bathrooms. The Park Board is recommending
the city council authorize the submission of a legacy grant application to
remodel the concession building for showers and to add a community room. Hill
added that one of the options includes putting in a patio area that connects to
the big picnic shelter and then remodeling some of the kitchen in that
Hill suggested the city
pay Pat Conroy of WSN to write the grant. The costs include $111,960 for
construction, $16,794 for contingency, $48,000 for architectural drawings,
bidding and contract oversight, and $4,000 for the grant writing. The
city’s share would be 20% or $36,150.
Council member Miller
moved, seconded by Storck, to adopt Resolution #3252-8-14, Resolution Authorizing
the Submission of a DNR Park Legacy Grant Application. Upon a roll call
vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.
Resolution Approving a
West Central S.W.A.T. Team Agreement:
Police Chief Tiegs stated the city approved this agreement in January but it didn't
take into consideration that two of the employees are not government employees,
so all references to that needed to be changed.
Mayor Giese moved,
seconded by Council member Wohlers, to adopt Resolution #3253-8-14, Resolution
Approving a West Central S.W.A.T. Team Agreement. Upon a roll call vote
taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.
the 2014 DNR Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Contract: Council member Wohlers moved, seconded by
Miller, to adopt Resolution #3254-8-14, Resolution Approving the 2014 DNR
Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Contract in the amount of $2,500 for turn out
gear. Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion
Assessment for Current Services:
Council member Miller moved, seconded by Wohlers, to adopt Resolution #3255-8-14,
Resolution Adopting Assessment for Current Services for repair of a water shut
off at 16 East 2nd Street. Motion carried.
CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS
& RECOMMENDATIONS: City
Manager Report: Hill noted
the preliminary budget would
be presented at the next council meeting. The city will be able to freeze
the tax levy and everything looks good for going into next year. At the next
meeting the council will be asked to set a public hearing for the Oregon Avenue
road project. Hill will be meeting with the unions the second week in
Giese asked about the increase
for mayor and council salaries. Hill indicated that could be discussed
during the budget and it may have to be done before the election.
Miller asked about the
concessions at Wells Park that are used by the youth of Faith Lutheran
Church. They are wondering about using the brick building that houses the
bathrooms and having a roll up window put in. Hill stated there was a
discussion from the park board and if the church was willing to pay for the
cost of the windows they didn’t see problem. Miller added it was his
understanding that there was no interest from the baseball association to take
on the additional concessions at Wells and it's a nice service to have there
with all the use the field gets.
NEW BUSINESS: Appointment to Canvassing Board: Mayor
Giese appointed Kevin Wohlers to the Canvassing Board.
OLD BUSINESS: Wohlers asked for an update on the status
of the Mi Mexico restaurant. Hill explained that when the owners went to
put in their equipment there was an issue with the flooring. Hill stated
it was another building problem and that's what's been hampering this project
INFORMATIONAL ITEMS: None
ADJOURNMENT: There being no further business, Mayor
Giese adjourned the meeting at 6:42 p.m.