Zumbrota, MN 

Bridging the Past and the Future

City Council Work Session March 15, 2012




MARCH 15, 2012 5:00 P.M.    



Pursuant to due call and notice thereof, Mayor Rich Bauer called the Zumbrota City Council to order at 5:00 p.m.  PRESENT:  Mayor Rich Bauer; Council members Dale Hinderaker, Sara Durhman, Tina Hostager and Brad Drenckhahn. Others present: City Administrator Neil Jensen, City Accountant Kim Simonson, Police Chief Gary Selness, Roger Ballstadt, David Hadler, City Attorney Matt Rockne, Rebecca Aaland, Sandy Hadler, Dean Tiedemann, Brian Haugen, Darrel Leonard, Doug Sommer, Bill Budensiek, Marvin Ehlers, Darren Pahl, Ron Horsman, Jim Wedge.



  1.  Fire Department Pumper Truck Purchase

Mayor Bauer asked the city council to begin a discussion on the Fire Department pumper truck purchase.  Council Member Hinderaker summarized his thoughts by saying he thought that one point of agreement the council was uncomfortable with purchasing a truck presently. Council had been provided with history from City Council notes and he said after reading them he saw that historically it has been fifteen years between pumper truck purchases.  Replacing the pumper at present would result in a significant shortening of this replacement schedule.   Shortening up the schedule drives up costs significantly for both the townships and the City.  Hinderaker stated he would be more in favor of ordering the chassis in 2014 and the rest of the truck in 2015.  After reading through all the agreements with the Fire Board Hinderaker was fully convinced the joint powers agreement needs updating.  He found no language in the agreements which gave the Fire Board the power to demand or obligate other governmental bodies for funds and he was not in favor of any language which would create this type of arrangement.  Hinderaker also thought the percentages of payments needs to be reviewed.  He said he would like staff to look into drafting a preliminary joint powers agreement.


Council member Hostager said she had reviewed the history and was unclear as to how the fire protection agreement of 1979 morphed into a joint powers agreement.  Administrator Jensen stated the agreement started out as the townships and city agreeing to pay a fee for fire protection.  In the early 1980’s a joint powers agreement was attempted but the drafting did not go well.  By state statute an agreement has to be in place in order to receive the 2% money from the State.  In 1983 an agreement was made which satisfied the requirement but remained vague.  Jensen also stated there had always been a fire protection contract since 1979.  Hostager also added she had found from the minutes that the purchase of fire trucks was always brought before the Council and they had been quite involved.


Council member Brad Drenckhahn had sent an email which was forwarded to all the Council outlining an idea for funding the truck.  He said given that assumption the fire truck will need to be replaced and a new truck purchased the City will have to pay for it.  He was trying to figure a way to get the funds together.  He stated he didn’t know if the Fire Board had procured the loan which was moved on at the joint meeting between the Fire Board and the Council.  He suggested if the loan was in process that using the LGA money which had been designated to be placed in reserve for anticipated additional LGA cuts might be available to use for funding.  Additional monies which are designated for this reserve could also be used to fund the truck plus additional levy money to fund the truck. 


Hostager asked why the closeness of the shortening of the replacement schedule for the fire truck wasn’t questioned five years ago when the idea was brought forward.  She also asked why the budget wasn’t increased last year to add to the savings for the truck since it had been known the Fire Board was calling for specifications. Mayor Bauer explained when the new truck was first brought up the City started to budget without really looking at the replacement schedule.  After the deep LGA cuts the Mayor had told the Board and townships the City wasn’t budgeting enough to meet the obligation.  Hostager questioned why the 2012 budget wasn’t increased for since the specs were out.  Jensen agreed that was a good point and went on to explain the levy had been raised $113,000 and reductions had been made to the street lighting and storm water fees resulting in more pressure on the levy to replace the funds.  Also, last year the State of Minnesota cut the homestead market credit which significantly raised the taxes on the non-homesteaded properties.  These were large increases to the taxpayers and raising the levy any further would have resulted in even higher cost to the taxpayer.  Drenckhahn asked if anyone was against taking LGA money.  Hinderaker replied he would like the timeframe on purchases before any commitment is made.  The Mayor agreed a capital equipment schedule would reduce surprises and allow the City to adequately determine and fund a line item addressing this issue. 

The Mayor said he would like to push to 2015 or 2016 in order to see what the State will do with funding.   Drenckhahn said he believed some money should be targeted now and that bumping up that line item would be the way to go.  The Mayor stated he would like to see a more comprehensive plan.  Hostager said she believed the Fire Department thought there were being forthcoming with a five year plan and they shouldn’t be discredited on this issue.   Council member Durhman was asked to weigh in with her opinion.  She said she didn’t think it was fiscally responsible to purchase a truck this year and the 15 year replacement schedule should be adhered to.  Hinderaker asked what the procedural process should be.  Should the item be tabled until budget time; he wanted to know the consensus of the Council.  He also added the Council may even consist of different members after the election.  Jensen said his thoughts were that the other players in the purchase need to be visited with so a consensus can be reached and that doing this would be the courteous and right thing to do.  The Fire Board has been a board for a long time and have done a great job and worked in cooperation.  It is Jensen’s opinion that the current agreement specifies the Board is an advisory board and all decisions need to be brought back to township boards and City Council.  Durhman added she had found the past notes interesting. Purchases of fire trucks had been run differently and unclear parameters had created a lot of miscommunications and hard feelings.  She said she wanted to understand state statutes and how a joint powers agreement should be drafted and run.  The current arrangement has become a point of contention and she was hopeful a solution could be reached.  Jensen said researching past purchases had been an eye opening experience.  In 1985 the City rejected the bids for the fire truck and called for plans and specs.  There had been definitely more City involvement than to just order a truck.  In 2001 the Council approved the Fire Board going out for specs. He acknowledged the process didn’t go that way this time.  That in the past the City was much more of a partner in the process.  Durhman thought the city had gathered information in the past because there were more resources available to gather information and present it. Ron Horsman left the meeting at 5:25 pm. 


The Mayor said waiting until 2014 allows two budget cycles for preparation and 2015 gives the City three and an agreement needs to be worked on which reflects current situations instead of how it was run in the 1970’s.  Hinderaker would like to see the agreement done as soon as possible.  Jensen reminded the agreement would need to be done by 2013 or the fire department will lose 2% state money. No more than ten years must be separated between agreements to satisfy the state. There were questions on how the Board would look and what the timing would be.  These will need to be addressed in the arrangement. There were also questions on a time frame to work out an agreement.  The Mayor suggested waiting a couple of months to start working on the agreement but other members thought working on the agreement should begin as soon as possible.  It was agreed upon the item would be placed on the first Council meeting agenda in April.


The Mayor said based on Goodhue County’s market value the City’s portion would be approximately 51.7%.  Most of the townships didn’t change but Belle Creek’s portion went down to .7%.  There is a townships association joint powers agreement which the League of Minnesota Cities has put together which could be used as a guideline for a new agreement. The new agreement would define the duties and responsibilities of an advisory board. 



Meeting adjourned 5:57 p.m.


                                                                                    NeilJensenCity Administrator

City of Zumbrota; 175 West Avenue; Zumbrota, MN 55992