1. Call to Order. The regular work session of the Council of the City of Rogers was called to order by Mayor Bunting on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. at Rogers Community Center, 21201 Memorial Drive, Rogers, MN, 55374.
Council present: Jay Bunting, Don Hall, Rick Ihli, Darren Jakel, and Maureen Stanley.
Staff present: Mike Bauer, RAC Manager; Jeff Beahen, Police Chief; Gary Buysse, Liquor Operations Manager; Brad Feist, Fire Chief; John Seifert, Public Works Supt.; Stacy Scharber, Assistant City Administrator; Steve Stahmer, City Administrator; Bret Weiss, City Engineer; and Lisa Wieland, Finance Director.
2. Public Safety Building Discussion
Administrator Stahmer began the discussion on the options for a Public Safety Building jointly located at the current fire department/community room location. Stahmer stated he and Finance Director Wieland discussed the financing of the current location and any issues that should be addressed with the financing of a new public safety building. Stahmer stated the two obstacles are borrowing and community room space stating we need to keep in mind moving through what other creative options there are for the community space.
Tom Moorse, HTG Architects, stated he met last fall with staff to get information to prepare cost estimates for future city buildings.
Stahmer stated in the financial management plan (FMP) when looking at city hall and a police station, were using $6.5M for each.
Moorse proceeded through his handout stating the main question becomes when to move into the community room space. Under option 1, this space would remain community room space as long as possible until the space would become the EOC.
Stahmer suggested not reviewing all three options since it was clear at the last meeting that option one is the preferred option. Hall agreed.
Jakel, questioned the parking lot and if the activities that took place last week (Rockin' Rogers) could occur after the construction. Moorse stated the east curb line would get pushed out approximately 30 feet.
Bunting asked if the parking lot could be moved closer to the wetland. There was a discussion about the possibility of creating more parking lot and relocating wetland to the city property owned along the freeway. Seifert explained that it is a DNR protected wetland and it may be difficult to encroach on the wetland.
Jakel discussed the need of additional parking to accommodate an EOC.
Stanley stated she knows we are addressing the public safety needs, but what are we doing with the city hall needs.
Stahmer stated that city hall is assumed in the future to go in the existing police site.
There was a discussion on how many years would pass before a community room space is rebuilt. Moorse stated the number for city hall (included in the packet) does include a community room space.
Wieland stated a city hall/senior center is bumped to 2020 in the FMP. Fire station II is being bumped to 2022.
Hall questioned if the current police station site is the best site for a future City Hall stating he questions if that is the best use of the property since the City owns other property in town.
Stahmer stated by keeping it at downtown, as a city center, it brings a draw to downtown.
The discussion then focused on the following items:
• Is the parking lot big enough in Option One
• Cannot plan the project with the concern of an event that happens once per year
• What the EOC will be used for
• What would need to be relocated/moved if Rockin' Rogers co-locates with the public safety building
• Whether or not Rockin' Rogers should look at moving to a bigger site at the North Community Park
Beahen stated the same fears were raised in Elk River when they constructed their new facility. That project worked out well. Beahen commented on what he was hearing during the past weekend and stated he believes the reaction is premature. Beahen encouraged the Council to be open minded to what was being said. Beahen stated the police department supports the Lions' event.
Ihli stated, in a few years we will have the pavilion at the park that could hold some of the events such as the coronation. Ihli then addressed some of the comments being said during Rockin' Rogers stating some may be taking it too far.
Hall echoes Beahen's thoughts and he appreciates them.
Stahmer, the sound bite is the City is more than willing to be flexible to accommodate events. But the flexibility stops when the $2M in costs comes into play and we are trying to focus on the configurations that make sense.
Ihli agreed, stating what it is going to cost and what we are going to pay for it - that is the important thing and that is what we should be hitting first.
Jakel stated his comments were more about the amount of money being spent. Jakel questioned the timing with the bonding application. From the options presented, option one seems to fit the best, but is there something between option one and doing nothing?
Stahmer commented on the funding and timing issue. The original schedule was to be April to October 2014. With the application for state bonding funds being made, we probably won't know if we getting funding until the end of May. We wouldn't want to start construction or financing until how much we know we need to bond for. Stahmer and Wieland also explained the reverse referendum bonding process.
Jakel stated if we are going to wait that long, then possibly there are issues in the current building that need to be addressed.
Bunting shares those concerns. There was discussion on how much it would cost to make the current structure a short-term fix and how much money has already been put into the existing building over the past 10 years.
Stahmer then asked Wieland to discuss numbers if we were to do a bond for the full amount of the project, using a number of $5.5M.
Wieland went through her numbers and the interest rates that were used during the example bond run at 3.2%. Currently rates are over 4%. Wieland stated she doesn't anticipate that the numbers would continue to go up. For a $5.5M bond, principal and interest payments are around $400k per year. Wieland stated it realistically takes three months to go through a bonding process, especially with the reverse referendum process. Wieland explained that the CIP bond is the cheapest way to finance it.
Scharber asked what the percentage of voters in the last election that are needed for a reverse referendum bond to be reversed. Staff wasn't sure; possibly 5%. Scharber stated the 2012 election was the largest voter turn-out in history.
Staff discussed the two types of bonding used on the existing structure. Wieland stated we have to sell bonds within three years of incurred costs to be included in the bond for the project.
It was discussed that the State bonding bill is worth the wait; $2.5M is a lot of money. We would be looking at borrowing money at this time next year.
Bunting asked with increase in tax rate with the $400,000 bond payment it equates to four percentage points. There was discussion about other sinking funds possibly going away.
This led to a discussion on the FMP and the other items currently included in the FMP Capital Improvement Plan. Wieland stated it would raise your tax rate four to six percentage points.
Stahmer stated, under the current FMP, it is moving the $400k payment up two years.
There was continued discussion on the location of the public safety building, city owned property, and a future city hall location.
Bunting stated in looking at the increase in property taxes, for him it would be a $144 per year increase. Bunting discussed growth of the community and the growth having to pay for some of the future costs. Bunting stated the longer we push off building the structure, the more expensive it is going to be.
There was discussion among Council about waiting to build the public safety building, waiting to see if the funding comes from the state, how much can be in place prior to knowing if there is funding from the state, and the current timeline being pushed out three to four months.
Chief Beahen stated one of the biggest concerns is we are an electronic police department. Beahen explained how the Police Department would not be able to function if a large storm does hit here and there is a power outage. Beahen then read from a list of concerns.
Jakel asked, what if we said we are going to go forward with a plan, but shut down the community room and move them here temporarily until the structure is built.
Stanley stated, we applied for this grant, but what if we don't get it. We assumed all along that some way we will have to fund the project.
There was a discussion of the timing of bonding and when to add $300,000 to $400,000 to the levy.
Council discussed this being the number one goal coming out of the retreat; not having five number one goals.
Ihli asked Council if they should hold an open house to let the public understand what the options are.
Staff and council discussed the unescapable question of what happens to the community room. Moorse stated the hope was to not move the police department twice, but options two and three are phasing options.
Ihli suggested getting the park facility going to mirror the current space. Bunting suggested doing the park referendum in 2014. Wieland discussed the difference between borrowing funds to build community buildings versus a park referendum.
Staff and Council then discussed the amount of square footage the current community room is and what would need to be replaced. Also discussed was not having control over the last piece of property at Triangle Park.
Council directed staff to schedule a work session for the last meeting of July for continued discussion.
3. CSO staffing discussion
Beahen handed out information that was previously prepared and discussed at a Public Safety Task Force meeting. The information focused on the hiring of two part-time CSO's knowing we don't have the ability financially to hire more police officers.
The idea is to have two part-time CSO's as police cadets, working no more than 24 hours per week, and they would not be eligible for benefits; only PERA and FICA.
Beahen stated the task force is also looking at the current position description for our Community Service Officer. Beahen handed out an updated job description stating he is proposing a complete restructure of the position stating the new position description is very encompassing.
Beahen stated the CSO/cadet program is an alternative to hiring more police officers. This is the most cost effective way to bring a couple of extra bodies into the police department.
Beahen stated Assistant Administrator Scharber is currently working on a point study to determine the potential wage increase for the revised CSO position description; possibly less than $3,000 this year, and $5,000 next year.
Beahen stated in order to keep this on track, the purpose of tonight's discussion is to introduce the topic and give the Council time to address it.
Council thanked Chief Beahen for the information.
4. Other Business
Jakel moved, Ihli seconded a motion to adjourn at 6:55 p.m. Motion carried 5-0.
Assistant City Administrator/Clerk