March 4, 2024, Meeting Minutes

Posted: May 2, 2024

City of LeRoy MN – Council Meeting Minutes, March 4, 2024


A regular meeting of the LeRoy City Council was called to order by Mayor Ed Koppen on Monday, March 4, 2024, at 6:30 PM at the LeRoy Community Center with the following members present:  Mayor Ed Koppen, Council Members Harold Shipman, Brian Thiel, Ashley Huntley, Maintenance Employee Nick Sweeney, and City Clerk Patty White.  Council member Gerald Payne was absent.
Also attending: Dick Soltau, John & Liz O’Byrne, Alice Darland, Axel Gumbel, Russ Rudlong, Ron Purkapile, and Deputy Katlynne Fisher.  All stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Consent Agenda:

  • Thiel made some comments on the amount of verbiage that is included in the minutes. Council took no action on his comments.
  • Motion by Shipman, second by Huntley to approve the consent agenda. Motion carried 4-0.

Police Report:

  • Huntley expressed concern about the parking at 712 North Broadway. There are times where the tenant will park his large van in the driveway to work on it; the van then extends out into the travel portion of Cabot Street.  She felt the deputies should address this since this is a parking situation.
  • Deputy Fisher arrived following the previous conversation and reported Mower County spent 7.13 hours per day here in LeRoy over the past month. She reported the majority of the calls were for traffic stops and medical calls.
  • Koppen requested the deputies to address these types of issues when they see them. Liz O’Byrne noted the speed of some pickup trucks that are leaving town on North Broadway after school.  Deputy Fisher told those present to call these incidents in to the LEC on the non-emergency number, 507-437-9400, ext. 1, with a description of the vehicle.  The license plate number is not required.  Council thanked Deputy Fisher for her time and report.

Public Input Time:

  • Dick Soltau questioned if the large electrical box on the corner of East County Road and Main Street is slated to be moved for the Hwy 56 project. Shipman reported Freeborn Mower Electric Cooperative is aware of this; MnDOT is also aware of the placement of this box.  This issue will be addressed during the preconstruction meeting for the Hwy 56 project.
  • Ron Purkapile questioned if dates had been set for spring city-wide garage sales. The sales are set for May 3 & 4.
  • John O’Byrne questioned if the city has received any restitution for the payroll tax issues at Wildwood Grove from a few years ago. Shipman reported the last he heard was this is still under investigation at the county attorney’s office.  Alice Darland questioned if this is the reason for the extra fee on the water bills.  It was noted that fee is for debt service for the Hwy 56 project.  Koppen noted from the auditor’s report that the auditor found no fraud; the auditors attributed this issue to cash flow problems.  Thiel reported many of the financial records from that time were missing and had to be reconstructed.

Standing Committee Reports:

  • Shipman reported Prairie Visions had met and reported the funds that had been appropriated for repairs/reconstruction to the Shooting Star Trail have been decreased to $850,000; this trail rehab is to be completed either late this fall or early next spring. Prairie Visions has now applied for additional funding for this project.  Shipman reported work is progressing with the trail connection with the Wapsi Trail.  The Mower County Engineer is working on land acquisition.  Koppen suggested a polite letter to be sent to the elected officials of this area expressing the importance of this trail connection.  Motion by Thiel to authorize a letter to the Representatives of Districts 23B and 26B and the Senators of Districts 23 and 26 and to the Mower County Engineer advocating for this.  Second by Shipman.  Motion carried 4-0.
  • Huntley reported the call volume for the LeRoy Area Ambulance Service is down; the service is not missing any calls. The EMT class is about half done.

State Highway 56 Project:

  • There was no update on this project.

Housing Incentives Discussion:

  • Thiel reported he had reached out to Denise at Mower County to discuss the tax abatement program. There is no formality that the city needs to file with the county if the city were to no longer offer the tax abatement program.  Thiel noted if the council were to choose to no longer offer the tax abatement program, the property owner could still qualify for the tax abatement from Mower County and L-O Schools.  Thiel explained a cash housing incentive.  Koppen questioned if this incentive would replace the tax abatement, or if the property owner could choose which program to participate in.  Council noted it would be best to only offer one program.  Thiel noted the cash incentive would be paid when the building is “dried in.”  This would include having licensed building inspectors involved to certify that construction has reached a certain point. Thiel reported the tax abatement program has been expanded to also include rehab to dilapidated houses.  Thiel felt the cash incentive may be a way to incentivize the property owners of these properties to get them fixed up.  Thiel suggested a $12,000 cash housing incentive.
  • Huntley questioned if there were any cons to the cash incentive program. Thiel noted he couldn’t see any cons; he felt that if the cash were paid and the property owner walked away, there would still be a saleable property available.  John O’Byrne noted that a licensed contractor does not have the teeth that a licensed building inspector has; he noted to have a licensed building inspector would cost more in permit fees.  Huntley suggested tabling this to gather more information and make contact with other cities that offer the cash housing incentive.

Housing Tax Abatement Public Hearing:

  • Koppen read the due call for this public hearing, “Notice is hereby given that the LeRoy City Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, March 4, 2024, at 7:00 PM, at the LeRoy Community Center, 204 West Main Street, LeRoy, Minnesota, to consider a tax abatement request from Heather Hughes, pursuant to Minnesota Statute 469.1813 and 116J.993 through 116J.995. The request is to abate 100% of the City of LeRoy portion of real estate taxes related to the building improvements on the subject property for a period of 5 years.  The subject property is legally described as Lot 29, River’s Edge Addition, City of LeRoy, Mower County (PIN 26.070.0290).  The total estimated abatement amount is on a $370,000 of estimated property value,” and opened the hearing at 7:04 PM.  No one in attendance had any comments about the requested tax abatement for the new home construction at 149 Miller Court.
  • Motion by Huntley, second by Shipman to pass Resolution 2024-01, a Resolution Approving Tax Abatement for Certain Property Pursuant to Minn. Stat. 469.1813. Motion carried 4-0.  Being no further business to come before this public hearing, the hearing was closed at 7:06 PM.

City-Wide Cleanup:

  • Council discussed potential dates for the city-wide cleanup. It was consensus of the council to hold the city-wide cleanup on Saturday, May 11, 2024, from 8:00 AM until 10:00 AM in the area north of the Fire Hall.

Land Use Permits:

  • Council reviewed one land use permit:
  1. Lot 7, Block 1, Olson Addition, 148 Penny Lane, Kathy Parsons-build new home
  • Motion by Shipman, second by Thiel to approve said permit. Motion carried 4-0.
  • Motion by Huntley, second by Shipman to call for a public hearing for tax abatement for April 1, 2024, at 7:00 PM. Motion carried 4-0.

Communications File:

  • There was nothing to review in the communications file.

Community Center Marquee Sign:

  • Thiel reported on more research and contacts he had made with different companies and their representatives. He found a sign that will fit in the existing space from MatrixLEDSigns for $5,836; this price includes shipping.  This is a full-color sign.  The sign would be installed locally; the electrical service and Wi-Fi bridge are already in place.  Thiel reported this company has been in business for 20 years.  The sign comes with a four year warranty.  Shipman expressed concern with purchasing a sign from a company in California; he would prefer to find a company closer.  Thiel noted he made many phone calls and gathered much information on signs.  Motion by Thiel to proceed with the purchase of this sign.  Second by Huntley.  Motion carried 4-0.  Thiel was thanked for all his work on this.

Community Center Kitchen Project:

  • Shipman reported the final inspection was completed last Wednesday. The kitchen is completed and already in use.
  • Thiel suggested changing the remaining fluorescent light fixtures in the Community Center to LED; he noted T8 bulbs can be used. Council would like to see more information on this proposal to review at the April council meeting.

Proposed Cemetery Project:

  • White updated council on a proposed project spearheaded by John Grass to clean out the overgrown trees and shrubs around the perimeter of the LeRoy Cemetery and St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery. Grass had contacted Tim Koch to see what could be done with this.  Koch, Inc. provided an estimate to clear this area.  Mr. Grass had talked to the adjoining property owners (Bron Midwest and Tim Koch) about this proposed project and splitting the costs for this.  He had not contacted a representative of St. Pat’s Cemetery.  The entire project, including removing the dirt pile in the cemetery, totaled $15,900.  The split cost would have St. Pat’s Cemetery paying $1,150; Bron Midwest paying $3,600; Koch, Inc. paying $1,950; and the City paying $9,200 (includes removing the dirt pile).  No estimates were provided for seeding grass or replacing any trees and/or hedge.
  • Motion by Huntley, second by Shipman to authorize this project (as Phase 1), paying the full $15,900 cost, and using bequest funds from the Dorothy Karlen estate to cover the payment. Motion carried 4-0.  Tree and/or shrub replacement will be addressed at a later time as Phase 2 of this project.

Service Award Recognition:

  • Shipman recognized Gerald Payne for all his work with the Community Center kitchen and small meeting room improvements.
  • Thiel reported on the very successful L.A.M.A. Luan held this past Sunday. $1,470 was raised with approximately 40 people attending.  Thiel recognized all those who helped make this a successful event.
  • Axel Gumbel recognized Diane Whalen for dealing with a power outage at Wildwood Grove that lasted over 12 hours. The outage was caused by wiring between the generator and the building that had failed.

Vacant & Nuisance Properties:

  • Thiel noted the property located at 210 East Frederick Street is becoming more dilapidated with each passing day. White reported she had visited with the new city attorney about this.  She will forward pictures of this property to her.  It was noted the taxes are current on this property.
  • It was noted the taxes are current on the two Alexander Lucas properties, but there has not been any improvements made to these.

Strong & John Street-Right of Way Infringement:

  • There was nothing to report on this.

ARPA Funds:

  • Sweeney had reached out to Hunt Electric from Bloomington with issues with the stationery generator at the Fire Hall. This generator is old; parts are not available for this.  A 48kw Generac generator with a five-year warranty could be installed for $29,875.  Sweeney also questioned Hunt Electric what the cost would be for a stationery generator for the east lift station and for the north lift station.  The price for an 80kw Generac generator for the east lift station would cost $42,660; the price for a 35kw Generac generator for the north lift station would cost $40,074.  All of these prices include installation and come with a five-year warranty.  The generators would receive bi-annual maintenance/inspections.
  • Motion by Huntley to use ARPA funds to fund the purchase and installation of the generator for the Fire Hall and the east lift station for a total cost of $72,535. Second by Shipman.  Motion carried 4-0.  Generators for the north and west lift stations will be addressed at another time.

EDA & WWG Report:

  • The financial report showed net income for January. Council reviewed the KPI report.
  • Huntley reported Lutheran Social Services will be hosting the Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 30. Diane Whalen had reached out to Huntley to offer WWG as a location for the Hunt.  Huntley and her team will decide on the location and do appropriate advertising.

Being no further business to come before the council, the meeting was adjourned on a motion by Shipman, second by Huntley at 8:11 PM.