Report on Tuesday, April 10 Sleepy Eye City Council meeting.

The Sleepy Eye City Council’s April 10 meeting was efficiently dispatched—all business completed in an hour.

Mayor Wayne Pelzel’s first order of business of was to proclaim May 3 as Arbor Day in Sleepy Eye. The community’s fourth grade students will gather at South Park to hold an Arbor Day program and plant some trees at 1:30 p.m. that day—an annual tradition.

The council approved a resolution for property tax abatement of up to $218,379 for real estate value and utility hook-ups in the Snow Farm parcel south of Kibble Equipment (for the Frontier Labs project—see article below). City Manager Mark Kober explained it is the city’s incentive for the project, which Councilor Doug Pelzel said is the same arrangement offered to the other businesses that have located in the development. Kober and City Attorney Alissa Fischer said the purchase agreement is being finalized with Frontier Labs.

The council approved a resolution: “that this Council supports local decision-making authority and opposes legislation that removes the ability for local elected officials to respond to the needs of their businesses and constituents.” The resolution has been approved by many Minnesota cities, in part in response to more than two dozen bills that restrict local decision-making that have been introduced in the Minnesota Legislature in 2017 and 2018.

Kober told the council that the application to the USDA, for funds to assist with renovation of city hall, was turned down due to the city having too much money— just as he told them he suspected last month. The council will meet with architect Eric Oleson at noon on April 13 to review proposed plans for the renovation of the former liquor store space for a new police station. Kober said it was possible construction could begin in June if the council moves ahead with the project.

Engineer Dave Palm told the council that Mathiowetz Construction was the low bidder for this summer’s Highway 14 project in Sleepy Eye, at $3.3 million. Palm said MnDOT’s estimate had been $2.7 million, so the increased cost would mean perhaps a $30,000 increase for the city’s share. The project is scheduled to begin on May 21 and be complete by Aug. 14. Palm said the project will start at the 12th Avenue intersection, which will involve a detour for about a week; the remainder of the project will be completed under traffic with no detours.

Palm said he is almost done with the application to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for funding of the 12th Avenue to St. Mary’s Street proposal.

Police Chief Matt Andres and City Attorney Fischer asked the council for their input on a parking issue that has come up. They have received a request from New Ulm Telecom to press charges on persons parking in their lot during snow emergencies. Fischer said the city code does call for a misdemeanor charge for parking on private property, but that the issue had not come up before. Kober said he wasn’t sure that New Ulm Telecom actually was leasing the lot in question, which is owned by the city. The council directed Kober to research the lease issue. Fischer and Andres suggested telling private lot owners to install signage if they want to prohibit parking.

Andres also asked for council permission to purchase new firearms for the police department—he’d previously presented a quote to the council. The council approved the purchase of firearms recommended by the police chief—eight handguns with reflex sights at a total cost estimated at $7,227 (the amount of the quote, which had expired but Andres thought was still the correct cost.)