Finance Committee

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Finance Committee - August 28, 2023 Minutes


Regular Meeting Monday, August 28, 2023

The Regular Meeting of the Finance Committee of the City of Fargo, North Dakota, was held in the Meadowlark Room at City Hall at 10:00 a.m., Monday, August 28, 2023.

The Finance Committee Members present or absent were as follows:

Present: Timothy Mahoney, Dave Piepkorn, Michael Redlinger, Steve Sprague, Tanner Smedshammer, Susan Thompson and Brenda Derrig.

Absent: None.

Others Present: Bekki Majerus, Mark Williams, Nancy Morris, Wyatt Papenfuss, Nathan Boerboom, Dan Portlock, Jordan Corneliusen, Dan Eberhardt, Doug Durgin, Ben Dow, Denise Kolpack, Arlette Preston, and Jill Pagel.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Piepkorn moved the minutes of the July 24, 2023 Finance Committee meeting be approved as presented. Second by Mr. Sprague. All Members present voted aye, and the motion was declared carried.

Consent Agenda

Sole Source and PBC items Approved:

Six requests were considered.

Mr. Sprague moved to approve, second by Ms. Thompson and all members present voted in favor.

Regular Agenda

Sales Tax Analysis

Mr. Sprague reviewed the last month sales tax collection for Cass County and the City of Fargo and stated that taxes continue to move slow and moderate.

DS2302-Spring 2023 Flood Emergency Closeout Approved:

Mr. Papenfuss presented a summary of the Spring 2023 Flood expenditures as the result of the City of Fargo Emergency Declaration ending May 3, 2023. The North Dakota Department of Emergency Services completed a damage assessment of all communities in the State in order to determine what Counties would be included in the Federal Disaster Declaration. Cass County would have needed to have approximately $820,000 in damages. Cass County did not meet that minimum cost threshold and therefor did not qualify for FEMA Cost Recovery funds.

During the City of Fargo Emergency Declaration, the City incurred a total of $186,544 in expenses using project code DS2302. A summary of expenses were detailed in the supporting documentation.

The Finance Department requested reimbursement of the disaster expenses with a transfer from the General Fund to the Special Capital Projects Fund 411and its corresponding budget adjustment in order to close out project DS2302.

Ms. Derrig moved to approve, second by Mr. Piepkorn and all members present voted in favor.

Frontloading for Special Assessment Coordinator Position Approved:

Mr. Boerboom informed the Committee that the current Special Assessment Coordinator, Dan Eberhardt, intends to retire in early 2024. He stated that with an employee with over 25 years of specialized experience, it is very important to consider frontloading this position.

The frontload position cost is estimated to be $50,000 or less and due to vacancies in the Engineering Department, a salary savings of $240,000 has already occurred in the first half of 2023.

The recommenced motion is to allow the Engineering Department to frontload the Special Assessment Coordinator position utilizing salary savings from the 2023 budget.

Mr. Piepkorn moved to approve, Mr. Sprague made the second and all members present voted in favor.

Deferral Request for Selkirk Addition:

Mr. Eberhardt summarized a meeting between the Assistant City Administrator, the Special Assessment Coordinator, a land owner in Selkirk Addition, Earlyne Hector, and her legal counsel, Dan Plambeck. The discussion involved a Deferral Agreement approved at an August 2022 meeting. This discussion resulted in a new Special Assessment deferral request.

Hector has an agreement on the table that has not yet been signed.
Brenda explained in the negotiation in the original request is to extend the road to service the land south of the parcel requesting the deferral.
New request from Ms. Hector is to look at a deferral for the arterials and the lift station for improvements to the drain for the unplatted land for 10 years.

Mayor Mahoney asked Mr. Eberhardt what his recommendation would be and he responded that he would like to see the right of way, amend the original unsigned agreement, add in 64th Ave to the 10 year portion, but not the agreement without any easement or right of way.

Mr. Piepkorn would like to not allow a long term agreement, but Mr. Eberhardt explained that we already have an agreement on the table from a year ago.

Again, Mayor Mahoney asked Mr. Eberhardt what motion he would recommend. Mr. Eberhardt’s response was to deny the current deferral request and agree to the original agreement on the table with a right of way easement for 10 years. Ms. Derrig added that if they leave all the property unplatted agree to the 10 year deferral, if not, and they want to plat part of the property, agree to only a 3 year deferral.

Further discussion occurred in regards to the Long Range Plan, Planning Code and Tax Deferrals need to be the same. Mayor Mahoney agreed that they need to be in sync with each other.

No motion is needed at this time as Ms. Derrig will go back to Ms. Hector and her attorney with a discussion based on guidance from the Committee and will return to the with an update at a later date.

Mercantile Building Condo Association Costs Approved:

Ms. Majerus presented the background for the Mercantile Building as to the cost of doing business with a condo association. A detailed budget report was enclosed showing an increase in cost from 2021 to 2023.

Once the title for the Parking Ramp was turned over to the City of Fargo in March 2023, the City was then responsible to make monthly payments to the Mercantile Condo Association for Common Area Maintenance costs.

Mr. Piepkorn asked Ms. Majerus to provide a ballpark summary of the revenue vs the costs when this item comes to City Commission. Ms. Thompson asked when these charges will start and Ms. Majerus replied that the cost already started in March of 2023.

There was discussion as to tracking the expenses and revenue between the ROCO Condo fees and the Mercantile Condo fees, to be able to learn from the similarities and differences.

Ms. Derrig asked if she could add this to the parking lot presentation coming up.

No motion necessary as this item was informational only.

Downtown Library Shades Project Administration Costs Approved:

Ms. Majerus followed up on an item previously presented to the Committee on July 24, 2023 for Downtown Library Shades.

The committee expressed concerns with the discrepancies from the original amount in the contract for architectural services. Ms. Majerus agreed to go back to the vendor to negotiate a possible reduction in final price.

After negotiation, the vendor agreed to a final price of $35,500.

Facilities Management is requesting approval of $35,500 for architectural services to JLG Architects.

Ms. Derrig moved to approve, second by Mr. Redlinger, and all members present voted in favor.

Mayor asked if there was any other business.

Mayor Mahoney asked Ms. Thompson to talk through her vision of the Finance Committee. Ms. Thompson explained that through various discussions during the budget process, it became clear to her that Commissioners and senior leaders are interested in long-term financial planning, policy creation, and regular formal communication on financial matters. Her vision is that the existing Finance Committee be elevated to a quarterly brown bag meeting with Commissioners for policy matters, strategic planning, and other high-level financial items. A new monthly staff meeting would be convened for discussion of routine financial matters that fall within policy guidelines. The proposed purchasing policy is being crafted to coincide with these meeting formats.

Mr. Piepkorn thinks the committee works just fine and does not see the need for any change.

Mayor Mahoney suggested more discussion at the retreat.

The time at adjournment was 10:32 a.m.