At the Sleepy Eye City Council’s first meeting of 2017—on Tuesday, Jan. 10—several routine “new year” items were on the agenda, and some items were not so routine.

At the Sleepy Eye City Council’s first meeting of 2017—on Tuesday, Jan. 10—several routine “new year” items were on the agenda, and some items were not so routine.

While it is normal for new council members to be sworn in at the first meeting of the year, this year was a little different as a new mayor was also sworn in. Mayor Wayne Pelzel and new council members, Doug Pelzel and Larry Braun, were sworn in to office by City Clerk Linda Tiedeken. JoAnn Schmidt was re-elected as council president.

Over the years city council members have come and gone, but for the past 24 years Jim Broich served Sleepy Eye as mayor, after six years on the council. Mayor Pelzel commented on just that, expressing appreciation for Broich’s long service to the city. City Manager Mark Kober said that Broich had planned to attend the meeting, but a large snowdrift in his driveway convinced him to stay home.

Routine items included:

•Mayor’s appointments: Dr. John Pelzel as Health Officer, replacing Dr. Murthy who asked to be replaced after many years of service.

Council Committees, first named is chairperson: Road/Bridge - Zinniel, Stevermer, D. Pelzel; Finance - Stevermer, Schmidt, Zinniel; Liquor - D. Pelzel, Braun, Schmidt; Sanitation - Braun, Stevermer, Zinniel; Building - Schmidt, Braun, Pelzel; Council liaisons: Park Board - Schmidt, Hospital Board - Stevermer, PUC - Zinniel, Airport Board - Stevermer, Library Board - Braun, P & Z - D. Pelzel, EDA - Schmidt, CATV Advisory - Braun.

•Designation of official city depositories—First Security Bank, SouthPoint Financial Credit Union and Americana Community Bank.

•Council permission for City Clerk and Manager to invest city funds.

The council reviewed a list of potential event center expenses which were not included in the engineer’s budget and bid packages: audio/visual /internet; extra parking lot (city has an option on land north of the site) and options for finishing the lot; furnishings and signs. This was to clarify for council members, not for action at this time.

A lengthy discussion was held on event center bids, which were considered last month and at a finance committee meeting attended by all council members, but not yet awarded. Kober said the construction manager urged the council to move ahead with approval as some bidders were becoming concerned about ordering materials and scheduling spring work. The bid items under discussion were for the actual building—skin, roof, windows and doors, etc.—items required to enclose the building so inside work can proceed on schedule.

With no specific questions brought forth, councilors Zinniel, Braun and Pelzel seemed inclined to delay awarding the bids, perhaps until the final bid packet—HVAC, kitchen, and drywall—are received next week. A motion was made and seconded by councilors Schmidt and Stevermer to award the bids. The motion failed, 2-3. Discussion continued, and all agreed some items needed to be awarded so as not to hold up the entire project, but there was no concensus on which items to leave out.

Mayor Pelzel asked councilor Schmidt if she would like to offer her motion again. Stevermer said he would move to accept the bids, Schmidt seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Braun opposed.

The council held the first reading of an ordinance to amend the lodging tax ordinance, from three percent to five percent, as recommended by the hotel owners. City Attorney Alissa Fischer informed the board that three percent is what state law allows, so legislation would be needed to raise it to five percent. She said the legislature has approved such requests several times, especially in conjunction with event center projects.

Larry Braun asked the council to consider conducting a public survey on city departments/services. It was suggested a survey could be sent out with utility bills. Kober said he would bring a draft of a survey to the special council meeting scheduled for noon on Jan. 18, when the final event center bid packet will be considered.