The regular June meeting was held in the Town Hall once again to allow for social distancing requirements. Mayor Johnson called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. with all members present. Previous meeting minutes and consent agenda items were approved as presented.
Mayor Johnson clarified that Abby’s Concessions donation for utilizing city electrical is donated to the fire department.
Jamie Knutson was present expressing displeasure with the city ordinance regarding a four vehicle limit per property. There was clarification that vehicles parked in a garage are not counted in the vehicle limit. After discussion, a committee consisting of Charlie Warner and Randy Gossman will review the ordinance and present their recommendations at a future date. Bergey stated that citizens with concerns should contact the city office or a council member regarding their individual situation.
Clerk Bergey presented the clerk’s monthly update of 15 delinquent accounts, 9% of total, owing $1,450, with zero disconnections and 44 dog/cat licensed and 12 golf cart/UTV permits issued. Seven nuisance property ordinance violation notices were mailed and one citation to Steve Popplewell was issued. A deputy and the city clerk will do property inspections in June.
Legal matters updates
Danny Whalen’s court order extended to July 15 with review hearing July 27 if non-compliant due to COVID-19.
Joel Torgerson’s jury trial scheduled for July 28-30.
Lolly Melander’s settlement conference scheduled for July 13 with jury trial set for August 17-21st.
The following events are scheduled at the Town Hall: Canton Community Blood Drive June 16, from noon–6 p.m. Canton Township Board June 23.
All Main Street planters have been adopted, with judging details determined due to the cancellation of Canton Day Off 2020.
Fire department financial presentation and Q & A scheduled for July 6.
Canton Historical Society meeting is to be scheduled to discuss cost reimbursement to the city for insurance.
In reviewing city ordinances, Clerk Bergey reported that a provision outlining billing procedures for sewer services was discovered, with a due date specified as 10 days after service was rendered. Going forward, the utility due date will be changed to the 10th of the month, rather than the first as previously scheduled.
In Public Works, Nordsving reported on monthly activity at the sewer plant, including a high water event on June 9. Prairie Avenue project is estimated to cost $10,000-$12,000, plus $4,000 for gravel. Highway specialist will be starting the Canton project soon. Water issues on 2nd Street by Fishel’s property resulting in culvert work and regrading is to be completed.
Police: Reviewed as presented by Fillmore County.
Unfinished business items
Melander unemployment insurance benefits appeal was explained by city attorney Schreiber, who reported that although there was an interim employer ending her employment, since Melander was previously employed by the City of Canton, the claim was filed against the city. Schreiber filed an exception on behalf of Canton with the judge determining Melander had left on her own accord. Because her resignation took place before the council could act to fire her as well as other issues, the city’s claim was denied. It was also clarified by Bergey that in the private sector, an employee who voluntarily leaves employment would not be eligible. Since Canton is a reimbursing employer, leaving a city job allows someone who voluntarily leaves employment, for any reason, to receive benefits. The next step could potentially be to request the judge reconsider or submit the matter to the Minnesota Department of Appeals. Since the potential legal costs could exceed the maximum liability, it was moved and approved to not proceed with any further action with Gossman abstaining.
Utility rates review
Sewer rates are determined to be accurately assessed, with costs and reserves covered. Water base rates must be increased to meet the existing water-related expenditures since residents have the ability to control their water usage. Potential base and per gallon increase formulas and comparisons with other area city rates were discussed. Mayor Johnson explained that when there is debt service on water and sewer services, this cost must be included in the cost of the services as well as planning for future improvements. Since utilities are considered to be enterprise funds, general funds cannot be utilized.
Richards Sanitation is also expected to present a revised billing in August.
Options will be presented at the July meeting, with a public hearing scheduled before adoption.
$510 has been paid for mowing the Oselka/Lundy property by the city, but has not been assessed to the property taxes for the last five years. It can be assessed in November unless the property is sold. A question was also raised regarding other property mowing issues and also how to proceed with enforcement of the ordinances.
The paved alley between Canton and Fillmore Avenue has been utilized for more than six years, so the maintenance of the alley is to be determined by the council rather than the adjacent owners. Blacktop removal was mentioned and the Presbyterian Church will be contacted regarding the plans for the alley.
Planned crosswalks will be presented for approval and completion to the county board with the city responsible for maintenance. The need for improvement of the approach area was also reiterated.
Canton has received the Waste Water Treatment Plant award for three years. Gift certificates of to the Pub and Sarah’s Diner approved for Nordsving and Davis in appreciation of this award.
Utility inactive account write-offs of $610.26 and refunds of $254.16 with no names provided to ensure privacy of the owners were approved.
A security camera system to be placed inside City Hall and the outside payment box, as well as at the brush dump were discussed. The cost will be looked into and brought to the council for review.
Three unnamed areas within the city were named to provide for identification and emergency locating. The park will now be Main Street Park, the beer garden will be referred to as Firemen’s Pavilion, and the two streets near the gazebo will now be Minnesota Avenue and Veterans Drive.
The next Canton City Council meeting will be July 8, 2020, at 7 p.m.