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Fargo City Commission - May 4, 2020 Minutes

The Regular Meeting of the Board of City Commissioners of the City of Fargo, North Dakota, was held in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall at 5:00 o'clock p.m., Monday, May 4, 2020.

The Commissioners present or absent were as shown following:
Present: Gehrig, Grindberg, Piepkorn, Strand, Mahoney.
Absent: None.
Mayor Mahoney presiding.

The Mayor read a message with the following information: Today was the City’s first day of “Reopening Fargo, Phase One;” road construction season is under way with work planned this year on Main Avenue, 64th Avenue South, 10th Street North, 3rd Avenue North and 25th Avenue South; the Fire and Engineering Departments teamed up to perform drone surveillance of drains that run through the City; May is Building Safety Month, an international celebration of all aspects of building safety; the Library is offering no-contact curbside pickup services at all three locations and videos of storytimes are posted on the Library’s Facebook page and website; plans for the Fargo Police Department Academy are moving forward; due to the rescheduling of Clean-up Week to the week of September 14th, the Landfill will allow Fargo residents to dispose of household items at no charge the week of June 8th-13th; Public Service Recognition Week is May 3rd-9th and it is important to express appreciation for public employees who have been asked to go above and beyond their normal jobs; and two videos were shown, one regarding a message about arenas, concert venues and stadiums, including the FARGODOME, and another featuring a montage of hearts seen on businesses, homes and buildings throughout the community that are part of the larger “In This Together ND” campaign.

Order of Agenda Approved:
Commissioner Grindberg moved the Order of the Agenda be approved, correcting the address on Item No. “6” on the Consent Agenda to 739 Royal Oaks Drive North and adding an update under the COVID-19 Update on the CARES Act-Emergency Fund Relief and Updates.

Second by Gehrig. All the Commissioners voted aye and the motion was declared carried.

Minutes Approved:
Commissioner Strand moved that the Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Board held on April 20, 2020 be approved as read.

Second by Grindberg. All the Commissioners voted aye and the motion was declared carried.

Consent Agenda Approved:
Commissioner Grindberg moved the Consent Agenda be approved as follows:

1. Application for Games of Chance for Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star Foundation, Inc. for a raffle on 6/4/20; Public Spirited Resolution.

2. Agreement with the Downtown Community Partnership for the placement of a Bison sculpture on Broadway in the City’s right of way.

3. Amendment (Fifth) to Developer and Road Use Agreement with Block 9 Partners LLC.

4. Purchase Agreement with Tara Shilling for property located at 901 41st Avenue North (Project No. FM-19-A).

5. Purchase Agreement with Philip S. and Ellen J. Sondreal for property located at 906 42nd Avenue North (Project No. FM-19-A).

6. Purchase Agreement with Marjorie A. Montplaisir, as Trustee of the Marjorie A. Montplaisir Living Trust for property located at 739 Royal Oaks Drive North (Project No. FM-19-B).

7. Bid award to Ti-Zack Concrete, Inc. in the amount of $228,089.00 for Project No. SR-20-A1.

8. Bid advertisement for Project No. SL-20-A.

9. Agreement for Services with Janice Tweet.

10. Amendment to Purchase of Service Agreement with ND Department of Human Services, Behavioral Health Division for prevention of opioid related deaths.

11. Exercising the option to piggyback on ND State Contract No. 22-MNWNC-124-PA with PCS Mobile/NASPO ValuePoint for Police squad car set-ups and mobile data computers for Fire Department vehicles. (PBC20-022)

12. Set May 18, 2020 at 5:15 p.m. as the date and time for a hearing on a dangerous building at 1007 8th Avenue North.

13. Purchase Agreement and Developer’s Agreement with Beyond Shelter, Inc. for the redevelopment of 314, 320, 324 7th Street North and 712 4th Avenue North, pending legal review.

14. Application for Appropriation from Civil Asset Forfeiture Fund for the Fargo Police Department Criminal Investigation Fund.

15. Grant award in the amount of $195,828.00 from the Office of Justice for funding from the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program (CFDA #16.034).

16. Amending Agreement No. 1 with Creative Outdoor Advertising of America Inc.

17. Amendments to Contract Nos. 38180987A and 38190960A with the ND Department of Transportation (CFDA #s 20.513 and 20.256).

18. Submittal of a grant application to the Federal Transit Administration for funding under the CARES Act and upon successful receipt of funds to execute the Grant Agreement.

19. Submittal of a grant application to the State of ND for grant funding for public transportation and upon successful receipt of funds to execute the Grant Agreement (CFDA #s 20.526 and 20.513).

20. Transit Capital Project – Fiscal Year 2020 Urban Roads Program Memorandum of Understanding with the NDDOT/Federal Transit Administration.

21. Change Orders for the Ground Transportation Center Remodel Project (F18006 and F19011):
a. No. 1 for a decrease in the amount of $2,710.00 with Gast Construction Company, Inc.
b. No. 1 for an increase in the amount of $18,488.64 with Rick Electric, Inc.
c. No. 1 for a decrease in the amount of $166.60 with Valley Service Mechanical, LLC.

22. Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program Subgrant Agreement with the ND Department of Emergency Services and FEMA for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Flood Protection Plan (Project No. WW1707).

23. Task Order No. 14 with AE2S for Project No. WW1707.

24. Contract and bond for Project No. TR-20-A1.

25. Bills in the amount of $14,108,457.90.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for the Purchase of a Permanent Easement from the University of Northwestern Approved (Improvement District No. BN-19-A1):
The Board received a communication from Land Acquisition Specialist Shawn Bullinger requesting authorization to proceed with a Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for a Permanent Easement (storm sewer) from the University of Northwestern - St. Paul in association with Improvement District No. BN-19-A1 as recommended by the City Engineer’s office. He said a final purchase price of $634.50 has been reached and authorization from the Board is requested to proceed with the purchase.

Commissioner Grindberg moved the Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for a Permanent Easement (storm sewer) from the University of Northwestern - St. Paul in association with Improvement District No. BN-19-A1 be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for the Purchase of Permanent and Temporary Easements from Gary and Diana D. Buzick Approved (Improvement District No. BN-20-C1):
The Board received a communication from Land Acquisition Specialist Shawn Bullinger requesting authorization to proceed with a Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for Permanent and Temporary Easements from Gary and Diana D. Buzick in association with Improvement District No. BN-20-C1 as recommended by the City Engineer’s office. He said a final purchase price of $676.00 has been reached and authorization from the Board is requested to proceed with the purchase.

Commissioner Grindberg moved the Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for the Purchase of Permanent and Temporary Easements from Gary and Diana D. Buzick in association with Improvement District No. BN-20-C1 be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for the Purchase of Permanent and Temporary Easements from Sarah and Thomas Bruce Approved (Improvement District No. BN-20-C1):
The Board received a communication from Land Acquisition Specialist Shawn Bullinger requesting authorization to proceed with a Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for Permanent and Temporary Easements from Sarah and Thomas Bruce in association with Improvement District No. BN-20-C1 as recommended by the City Engineer’s office. He said a final purchase price of $574.00 has been reached and authorization from the Board is requested to proceed with the purchase.

Commissioner Grindberg moved the Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for the Purchase of Permanent and Temporary Easements from Sarah and Thomas Bruce in association with Improvement District No. BN-20-C1 be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for the Purchase of a Permanent Easement from Clarence W. Samuel Revocable Living Trust No. 2 Approved (Improvement District No. BN-20-C1):
The Board received a communication from Land Acquisition Specialist Shawn Bullinger requesting authorization to proceed with a Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for a Permanent Easement from Clarence W. Samuel Revocable Living Trust No. 2 in association with Improvement District No. BN-20-C1 as recommended by the City Engineer’s office. He said a final purchase price of $63,250.00 has been reached and authorization from the Board is requested to proceed with the purchase.

Commissioner Grindberg moved the Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for the Purchase of a Permanent Easement from Clarence W. Samuel Revocable Living Trust No. 2 in association with Improvement District No. BN-20-C1 be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for the Purchase of a Temporary Easement from Lee and Deborah Haugen Approved (Improvement District No. BN-20-C1):
The Board received a communication from Land Acquisition Specialist Shawn Bullinger requesting authorization to proceed with a Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for a Temporary Easement from Lee and Deborah Haugen in association with Improvement District No. BN-20-C1 as recommended by the City Engineer’s office. He said a final purchase price of $305.00 has been reached and authorization from the Board is requested to proceed with the purchase.

Commissioner Grindberg moved the Memorandum of Offer to Landowner for the Purchase of a Temporary Easement from Lee and Deborah Haugen in association with Improvement District No. BN-20-C1 be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Sole Source Procurement with Ducks Unlimited, Inc. for the Purchase of Wetland Mitigation Credits Approved (Improvement District No. BN-20-C1):
The Board received a Report of Action from the Public Works Projects Evaluation Committee stating the 64th Avenue South Drain 53 project will negatively affect 0.8 acres of wetland, which requires the City to purchase wetland credits from Ducks Unlimited, Inc. to allow for the proper permitting. They said Ducks Unlimited, Inc. is the only local provider of wetland mitigation credits and the cost for the credits is $48,000.00.

Commissioner Grindberg moved the Sole Source Procurement with Ducks Unlimited, Inc. for the purchase of wetland mitigation credits be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Purchase of Wetland Mitigation Credits from Ducks Unlimited, Inc. Approved (Improvement District No. BN-20-C1):
Commissioner Grindberg moved the purchase of wetland mitigation credits from Ducks Unlimited, Inc. in the amount of $48,000.00 for Improvement District No. BN-20-C1 be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Contract Amendment No. 4 for Improvement District No. PN-19-A0 Approved:
The Board received a Report of Action from the Public Works Projects Evaluation Committee stating the costs in the Contract Amendment include additional time for project management, roadway design revisions, structural design for the I-29 bridge, environmental and permitting costs and engineering design subconsultant services for water main modifications and multiple plan sets in association with Improvement District No. PN-19-A0. They said the project started out as an overpass project with limited extents on each side of I-29 to a project with extents reaching two miles in length, the overpass has turned into a phased approach to construct a full interchange in 2025 and has gone from one project to two projects. They said KLJ will be completing a number of new items that were not scoped in the original contract from 2015.

Commissioner Grindberg moved Contract Amendment No. 4 with KLJ in the amount of $218,068.00 for Improvement District No. PN-19-A0 be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Contract for P.C.C. Paving, Site Grading, Structures, Storm Sewer, Water Main Replacement, Street Lighting, Sidewalk and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-20-C1 Approved:
Commissioner Grindberg moved the Contract between the City of Fargo and Dakota Underground Company for P.C.C. Paving, Site Grading, Structures, Storm Sewer, Water Main Replacement, Street Lighting, Sidewalk and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-20-C1 in the City of Fargo, North Dakota be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Contract Bond for P.C.C. Paving, Site Grading, Structures, Storm Sewer, Water Main Replacement, Street Lighting, Sidewalk and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-20-C1 Approved:
Commissioner Grindberg moved the following described Contract Bond be approved as to sufficiency:
United Fire and Casualty Company, in the amount of $5,151,545.62, for P.C.C. Paving, Site Grading, Structures, Storm Sewer, Water Main Replacement, Street Lighting, Sidewalk and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-20-C1 in the City of Fargo, North Dakota.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Contract for Water Main Replacement, Sanitary Sewer Replacement, Street Reconstruction and Incidentals Improvement District No. BR-20-B1 Approved:
Commissioner Grindberg moved the Contract between the City of Fargo and Dakota Underground Company for Water Main Replacement, Sanitary Sewer Replacement, Street Reconstruction and Incidentals Improvement District No. BR-20-B1 in the City of Fargo, North Dakota be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Contract Bond for Water Main Replacement, Sanitary Sewer Replacement, Street Reconstruction and Incidentals Improvement District No. BR-20-B1 Approved:
Commissioner Grindberg moved the following described Contract Bond be approved as to sufficiency:
United Fire and Casualty Company, in the amount of $2,375,116.80, for Water Main Replacement, Sanitary Sewer Replacement, Street Reconstruction and Incidentals Improvement District No. BR-20-B1 in the City of Fargo, North Dakota.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Contract for Asphalt Mill and Overlay and Incidentals Improvement District No. PR-20-E1 Approved:
Commissioner Grindberg moved the Contract between the City of Fargo and Border States Paving, Inc. for Asphalt Mill and Overlay and Incidentals Improvement District No. PR-20-E1 in the City of Fargo, North Dakota, be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Contract Bond for Asphalt Mill and Overlay and Incidentals Improvement District No. PR-20-E1 Approved:
Commissioner Grindberg moved the following described Contract Bond be approved as to sufficiency:
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, in the amount of $1,311,958.68, for Asphalt Mill and Overlay and Incidentals Improvement District No. PR-20-E1 in the City of Fargo, North Dakota.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Presentation on the Wastewater Treatment Plant Phase IIB Expansion:
Jim Hausauer, Wastewater Utility Director, said the City completed a Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Facility Plan to review the existing facilities’ condition and capacity. He said the Plan assessed all process equipment and structural components of the WWTP, as well as deficiencies associated with capacity, condition and future regulations. The recommendations were prioritized via a phased approach based on immediate needs and deficiencies, he said, with a goal to adequately treat projected hydraulic and organic loading over the next 20-plus years. The Phase II recommendations in the plan focused on expansion needs to meet the 20-year capacity requirements for Fargo growth and regionalization, he said. A Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) done in 2017 identified the base design for the facility improvements, recommended treatment technologies and opinions of probable costs, he said. To meet the schedule outlined in the Wastewater Sewer Agreement with West Fargo, he said, portions of the expansion project need to be completed in late 2022. Certain areas of the WWTP are currently under construction, which is Phase IIA, and will be completed in the coming months, he stated, and once operational, the facility will double its capacity to treat 29 million gallons per day, serving a regional population of more than 270,000. The Phase IIA construction includes UV disinfection, centrifuge installation and extensive yard piping. He said Wastewater Utility has a placeholder in the 20-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for the Phase II Expansion and the project will be funded with a 30-year/2 percent Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan programmed to be repaid with rate funds. He said with Fargo's growth and the current population served, the City has hydraulic limitations during heavy rain and flood events as well as organic limitations. The bid award package includes a base bid for a new west rate treatment train and an alternate bid for the rehabilitation of the old east train, he said. The base bid for the engineer's estimate was $117 million, he said, and the lowest actual bid was about $124 million. When completed, the WWTP will have high performance/small footprint technology that will produce a high-quality effluent, he said, and it will double the treatment capacity and exceed current regulatory requirements by the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality. He said the new plant will be capable of a high removal rate of nitrogen and phosphorus for future regulatory issues and will be beneficial for downstream users. The alternate bids did not increase any capacity and he chose not to accept alternates due to the base bid price, he said; however, the alternates are perfect shovel-ready stimulus projects if something would come in the future due to the fact that those are already designed. He said the project has exceeded the current SRF loan amount established in 2017 due to a new requirement that all iron and steel be American made, which is not necessarily a bad thing; however, it does increase costs. The pandemic, he said, has had a $6 million to $10 million impact on the project costs due to interruptions in the supply chain and concerns with labor availability. To cover the funding shortfall, he said, the City could rebid; however, he is concerned about timelines and not being able to meet some of the requirements in the agreement with West Fargo and bid prices could be higher. He said he will continue to pursue any possible stimulus or infrastructure packages and the contractor has provided a list of items to potentially reduce costs. The ND Department of Environmental Quality has stated that an increase in funding is approved, if needed, and an interesting thing about this is borrowing more money actually improves the City’s model. He said the model after the bid opening shows that instead of having the first principal payment in 2022, the City can start payments in 2024 and the State Health Department has said that the City could defer some of the principal payments to 2028. The reason that is so enticing, he said, is the City currently has $4.8 million of yearly debt service that will be off the books in 2028, therefore, the model will be healthier at that time. He said there will have to be a few modest rate increases; however, Fargo's rate per household is $16.50 and Grand Forks, Moorhead and Sioux Falls are all more than double that amount. He said the project was advertised for bids starting February 3rd and was advertised for eight weeks, which is much longer than what is generally done for projects in order to give contractors ample opportunity to provide good bids. He said the interim completion date of December 31, 2022, is when the City would like to accept full flow from West Fargo and by that time, the facility will be able to double its capacity. He said the project includes about $18 million to $20 million for labor, which is good for a local contractor, and Apex Engineering was competitively selected specifically for this project in 2017.

In response to a question from Commissioner Grindberg asking about the numbers and if the $123 million bid will put the project over budget, Mr. Hausauer said it will. He said the amount of the SRF loan is $146 million and the Phase IIA part of the project that is just wrapping up cost $24 million. There is also $20 million in engineering costs, he said.

In response to a question from Commissioner Grindberg asking what is the risk for the ability to pay these loans due to the economy, Finance Director Kent Costin said utilities are a solid base for revenues. He said there is an established commercial base and there may be some movement in payment behaviors with the coronavirus due to the waiving of some fees; however, out of all of the City’s revenue, utilities are one of the most secure. He said the City’s residents are living and working here and they need utility services to conduct their daily lives. There is also some safety net availability with sales tax, he said; therefore, in combination, he does not have any concerns.

In response to a question from Commissioner Grindberg asking about rebidding and is it Mr. Hausauer’s opinion that this is the best bid, or would it be better to wait six months and bid it in the fall, Mr. Hausauer said based on conversations with staff and Apex Engineering, it is his opinion that it is best to accept these bids due to the fact that there were only two general contractors who bid and the bid was advertised for eight weeks. He said he is fearful of what it might look like if the City would rebid it.

In response to a question from Mayor Mahoney asking if there is a revenue risk if this project is not started, Mr. Hausauer said the timeline is important as far as the agreement with West Fargo and due to the fact that West Fargo will be a big portion of help to pay for the project. He said if it is delayed, Fargo is only impacting itself. He said Fargo proper would need to have this expansion eventually; therefore, being regional is a win-win.

In response to a question from Commissioner Strand asking how long could the City wait before this project would have to be addressed if there was a desire to let the dust settle in the economy, Mr. Hausauer said one of the risks is the City’s agreement with West Fargo. He said the City has to accept flows from West Fargo by a certain date and if the plant does not expand, the City would be utilizing its lagoons for treatment of West Fargo flows; therefore, it would be essentially moving a problem from West Fargo to Fargo. The agreement with West Fargo could be amended, he said; however, he does not know if West Fargo would agree.

In response to a question from Commissioner Strand, asking if anyone has a sense of how bids compare before and after an economic crash, Mr. Hausauer said there is anxiety; however, no one is sure what will happen in six months and due to the agreements with West Fargo and Horace it is time to get this project built so the City can receive increased revenue. He said if the City were paying for this project with sales tax, he would be nervous; however, it is going to be repaid with rate funds where the City has more control and that revenue source is more stable.

In response to a question from Commissioner Strand asking how much the coronavirus pandemic escalated the costs, Mr. Hausauer said there were some labor issues from suppliers, concerns about timelines and the supply chain as well as construction labor.

Bid Award to PKG Contracting Inc. for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Phase IIB Expansion Project No. WW1701 Approved:
The Board received a Report of Action from the Utility Committee stating that the bid from PKG Contracting Inc. in the amount of $123,950,000.00 is the lowest and best bid for the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Phase IIB Expansion Project No. WW1701.

Commissioner Gehrig moved the bid award for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Phase IIB Expansion Project No. WW1701 to PKG Contracting Inc. in the amount of $123,950,000.00 be approved.

Second by Piepkorn. On call of the roll Commissioners Gehrig, Piepkorn, Grindberg, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Task Order No. 23 for Project No. WW1701 Approved:
The Board received a Report of Action from the Utility Committee stating Apex Engineering Group was selected through a competitive proposal process in 2017. They said Task Order No. 23 in the amount of $8,047,500.00 is for project management, construction administration, startup and warranty phase services for the Project and represents 6.5 percent of the bid amount, which is below industry standards.

Commissioner Gehrig moved Task Order No. 23 with Apex Engineering in the amount of $8,047,500.00 for Project No. WW1701 be approved.

Second by Piepkorn. On call of the roll Commissioners Gehrig, Piepkorn, Grindberg, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Applications for Property Tax Exemptions for Improvements Made to Buildings Approved:
a. Richard Trottier, 1501 40th Avenue South (3 year).
b. Simon and Leslie Heitkamp, 2801 Evergreen Road North (5 year).

Commissioner Piepkorn moved the applications be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Piepkorn, Gehrig, Grindberg, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Discussion Regarding Polling Sites for the Upcoming June Election:
Commissioner Gehrig said after having discussions with residents, many do not know that voting this year will only be by mail-in ballot. He said now that Fargo is reopening, he would like to know what is the appetite of the Commission to have one or more polling sites and if there are polling sites, how would that look.

Mayor Mahoney said there are some laws that block the City from opening polling sites and Governor Doug Burgum issued an Executive Order.
City Attorney Erik Johnson said according to the Home Rule Charter, the City has the authority to provide for all matters pertaining to City elections and it authorizes the Commission to set the date of an election; however, the Ordinance invokes reference to State election law and under that law, there are some deadlines that need to be met. He said two of the deadlines have already passed, and legally, it is not possible under the current law to have a polling site. The Ordinance could be amended, he said; however, due to the time period between now and June 9th, it is just too late to set up polling sites.

Cass County Auditor Mike Montplaisir said there is not a way now for the City to have a polling site. He said a decision would have had to be made 64 days prior to the election and at that time, it was not fully known what the coronavirus was going to do and the State still does not fully know, with confirmed case numbers still high. He said there is no social distancing at polling sites and voters may feel comfortable going to a polling site; however, people who would work at the polling site are not comfortable.

Commissioner Gehrig said he knows there are challenges and fears; however, the City has five weeks and he finds it hard to believe that the City cannot open at least one site. He said he fears low younger voter turnout, which is the biggest demographic. Residents can still vote by mail if they do not want to go to a polling site, he said; however, he is concerned that a Commissioner is going to be elected with only 2,000 votes. He said he would like the Board to consider the fact that Commissioners can work towards opening a polling site, take all the necessary steps and if it does not work, residents can still vote by mail and if it fails, at least the Board tried.

Mr. Montplaisir said five weeks before an election is not a lot of time and his staff is working very hard making a mail-in election work.

Commissioner Gehrig said the Board can amend the Ordinance, which is holding this back, Fargo’s ballot can be separate from the State and County ballot, special meetings can be held and he feels this can be accomplished.

Mr. Johnson said it is true that the current election law can be amended; however, he does not know what all the requirements are for putting together a sound election process.

In response to a question from Commission Strand, who said more than 30 counties in North Dakota already do mail-in voting and did that lower the voter turnout, Mr. Montplaisir said voter turnout has increased with mail-in voting.

Commissioner Gehrig said people are used to voting a certain way at a certain polling place and he was surprised that people do not know about mail-in voting. He said he predicts turnout will be very low and the City should try every way possible to get at least one polling site.

In response to a question from Mayor Mahoney asking how many applications have been mailed, Mr. Montplaisir said about 80,000. He said the ballots have to be postmarked by June 8th and there will be a ballot drop box outside of the Courthouse until 4 p.m. on Election Day.

Mayor Mahoney said in the future he would like to have one of the City Commissioners serve as a liaison to the Election Committee in order stay on top of dates and deadlines.

Commissioner Gehrig moved to direct the City Attorney to amend the City Ordinance to allow for one polling site in the City of Fargo for the June 9, 2020 election.
The motion died for lack of a second.

COVID-19 Update:
Desi Fleming, Director of Fargo Cass Public Health (FCPH), said there are 630 confirmed cases in Cass County as of today and the County has about 51 percent of the active cases in the State. She said there is an average of about 25 to 40 new confirmed cases a day. She said there was a recent mass testing event held at the FARGODOME, which was a collaboration with FCPH, the ND Department of Health and the ND National Guard. The mass testing event planned for today was cancelled, she said, due to an issue with testing equipment at the State lab. She said tests are backlogged so it was decided to put more testing on hold in order to catch up. She said she expects to see some higher numbers in the next day or two when the backlog is cleared. The focus of most of the tests is on individuals who have had close contact, may be symptomatic and essential workers who care for people who have an active case, she said. More than 30 FCPH staff members are designated to do contact tracing, she said, and she is hoping that the EverBridge system can be used to send out test result notifications. She said long-term care testing is going to happen on May 9th and there is a type of recurring testing protocol for some of those higher risk areas such as long term care and congregate living settings. She said health systems are also doing diagnostic testing daily for those who are symptomatic and meet the criteria. FCPH is highly involved with fit testing as businesses open up, she said, with people wanting to know about PPE and what types of masks to use.

In response to a question from Mayor Mahoney asking if Environmental Health is inspecting bars and restaurants and checking on overcrowding, Ms. Fleming said with restaurants and in other places normally licensed by FCPH, there were never any types of inspections, they have been doing more virtually to answer questions about hygiene practices. She said FCPH does not have any enforcement authority.

Police Chief David Todd said the Police Department does not have enforcement authority and its role is educational to explain why the Governor has recommended what he has and ask that people abide by the Governor’s recommendations.

Appropriate Staff Directed to Develop a Set of Interim Policy Recommendations Regarding Boulevard Gardening with a Sunset Date of September 30, 2020:
Kim Lipetzky, Fargo Cass Public Health Nutritionist, said she is co-chairperson of the Cass Clay Food Partners, and she has been hearing questions and concerns from residents about the ability to grow their own food and questions about what is and what is not allowed. She said some questions include gardening anywhere in a yard, raising more chickens, growing food on the boulevards and having a temporary greenhouse. The Cass Clay Food Partners cover seven different jurisdictions, she said, including Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Dilworth, Horace, Cass County and Clay County, and each jurisdiction has a different set of rules and regulations. She said the group did some research to take a look at what the rules are and how those rules and codes limit the ability of residents to grow their own food and how those limitations might be addressed during the pandemic.

Noel Harden, University of Minnesota Extension, said she has received answers from Fargo, Moorhead, Dilworth and Clay County and answers from West Fargo, Horace and Cass County are pending. She said all of the rules and guidelines pertain specifically to personal use and not for growing products for sale. There are a few caveats, she said, for example if someone is part of Homeowner’s Association there may be additional rules. Other things to keep in mind, she said, are utility lines and property lines, which should be verified before gardening. She said in Fargo, pollinator gardens and native plantings are permitted as long as the area planted is less than 30 percent of the property and if it is over 30 percent, a Land Management Permit is required. She said Fargo does not have an Ordinance addressing composting; however, the Solid Waste Department sells Earth Machines. In Fargo, up to four chickens are allowed with an annual permit and other conditions. Backyard beekeeping is allowed for personal use in Fargo, she said. In Fargo, she said, rain barrels, raised beds and greenhouses are allowed as an accessory use and structures of up to 10 foot by 12 foot, either temporary or permanent, do not require a permit; however, there are property line setbacks and easements. In Fargo, boulevard gardens are not permitted, she said.

Ms. Lipetzky said after compiling the information she has been thinking about what is not allowed and if there could be a potential change to allow some of these practices during the growing season through some type of interim or emergency type policy. She said there has been a lot of interest in boulevard gardens and she has talked with different departments and the City Attorney about the possibility of allowing boulevard gardens during this growing season. Some of the concerns were buried utility lines, storm water runoff and sight line concerns, she stated, as well as restoration costs. She said residents are requesting this to show a movement by the City towards food resiliency and as an option for residents with minimal space to grow food or for those who do not have a backyard or enough sun exposure. She said allowing these gardens could address food insecurity issues and add to neighborhood beautification. She said there are several communities that allow boulevard gardens for not only vegetables but also for flowers and pollinator plants. She said Sioux Falls has allowed it since 2016 and many Minnesota communities also allow it; therefore, there are many examples and models she could use to come up with a program. She would like the Commissioners input on whether or not to pursue this, she said, and if so, how to move forward with some parameters such as how does the City want to look in terms of urban agriculture practices as a whole.

Commissioner Strand said there is a group of people who meet every week and talk about food, food access and food security. He said the City needs to look at this with an interim mindset with a sunset at the end. He said that would give the City a chance to see what worked and what did not and what would be best long term. He said if the Commission can do this in a supportive way it would allow people to address their own food security needs in their own home. He said it is his guess that the City will be proud of how the people step up and participate, and will see that it did not create problems and the results will be good.

Commissioner Gehrig said he is sold on the idea and he approves City departments coming up with a plan on how to allow boulevard gardening.

Ms. Lipetzky said she would work with City departments to come up with a plan on how to do it and do it right away so it can happen this growing season with the pandemic going on.

Commissioner Grindberg said he appreciates the presentation and he understands the comparisons to other cities in the region so as this moves forward, if this should pass, it should be approached as what is in the best interest of the citizens of Fargo and not related to COVID-19. This is, in his opinion, he said, a non-related discussion about changing boulevards and even though there is a pandemic, this is a longer-term decision and what is the right policy. He said there are many efforts going on to help people and there can be a later discussion to see what fits for the City; however, this should not be tied to the pandemic.

Ms. Lipetzky said to look at this long-term is ideally what she would like to do. To get this set-up for this growing season would give the City a chance to see how it worked and to see if something should be built long term.

Commissioner Piepkorn said grocery stores are open and full of food, so to say this is some emergency pandemic-related thing is embarrassing and a waste of the Commission’s time. He said this is North Dakota and you can go two miles out of town where there is unlimited farmland. He said this is not Manhattan and he thinks a person’s neighbor needs to approve this. He said he has seen some boulevard gardens and they do not look nice. He said to spend time discussing this during a pandemic is hard to believe.

Ms. Lipetzky said some of the boulevard gardens are beautiful and it is another way for people to grow their own food, to be food self-sufficient and take care of themselves.

Commissioner Piepkorn said he has a garden and he loves gardening; however, it is ridiculous to try to tie this with the pandemic and to talk about food resiliency. He said there are 24-hour grocery stores throughout the City and he rejects the idea of food insecurity and food resiliency. He said in his opinion it is ridiculous.

Commissioner Gehrig said he looks at this as more of a property rights issue and if a person wants to make a garden on their property, they are not affecting the neighbor and he thinks they could look beautiful. He said he wants the people to be able to decide and there are not going to be a million of these gardens, maybe not even a hundred, and if it works out and it looks nice, maybe more people will do it. He said put a sunset on it, try it this growing season and then the Commission can come back and debate it on the merits of did it look good or did it look like crap.

Commissioner. Piepkorn said there is a great place called a farm for growing food and raising chickens. He said this is North Dakota and if someone wants farm living, live on a farm and if someone wants to live in the city, then live in the city and have a garden in the backyard. This is nothing but feel good, I am so wonderful and I can provide for myself talk, he said.

City Administrator Bruce Grubb said on the boulevards, water lines are seven feet deep or lower so they are below the frost line; however, cable and telephone lines are shallow buried; therefore, people need to call for locates before they dig.

Commissioner Gehrig moved that appropriate staff be directed to develop a set of interim policy recommendations regarding boulevard gardening with a sunset date of September 30, 2020, and to present the recommendations to the Commission at the next regularly scheduled meeting.

Second by Strand. On call of the roll Commissioners Gehrig, Strand, Grindberg and Mahoney voted aye.
Commissioner Piepkorn voted nay.
The motion was declared carried.

Resolution Moratorium to Permit the Keeping of Up to Six Chickens Adopted:
Kim Lipetzky, Fargo Cass Public Health Nutritionist, said there have been questions from residents about the number of chickens allowed. She said she is asking the Commission to consider a Resolution establishing a moratorium to permit the keeping of up to six chickens. She said currently four are allowed and if approved, allowing six would go into effect immediately with an end date of September 30th. If this goes well, she said, the idea is to take a look at making this permanent.

Commissioner Piepkorn said when someone keeps multiple chickens it is a public safety issue and there are many diseases associated with chickens. Once again, he said, this is the city, if someone wants to raise chickens, go live on a farm.

Commissioner Grindberg said he was agreeable with this up until the time it was said that this would come back and possibly be extended beyond the moratorium. He said staff worked very hard to come up with a reasonable Resolution and an Ordinance that passed for four chickens and when it was said that if this works, make it permanent for six, that is the part that troubles him. He said this year there were six chicken licenses approved, in 2017 there were four licenses and in 2019 there were 13. He said four hens produce two dozen eggs a week, according to Google, and two more hens would only add another dozen eggs. He said there is an Ordinance that works and he would have supported this had it been a moratorium just for this period of time. He said the biggest feedback he got after the original Ordinance was passed in 2017 was ‘”what is the City going to allow next?” He said here is what the City has next; therefore, he has to draw the line.

Ms. Lipetzky said there are many communities that allow six chickens. She said Fargo started with four in 2017 due to the fact that was what was best at that time. She said Sioux Falls, Minneapolis, Duluth and many other communities allow six and it is hard to feed a family of four with only four chickens; therefore, a couple of extra chickens will help.

Commissioner Gehrig moved the Resolution entitled “Resolution Moratorium to Permit the Keeping of Up to Six Chickens” and referred to as Attachment “A,” be adopted and attached hereto.

Second by Strand. On the vote being taken on the adoption of the Resolution Commissioners Gehrig, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
Commissioners Grindberg and Piepkorn voted nay.
The Resolution was adopted.

At 6:15 p.m. o’clock the Board took a five-minute recess.
After recess: All Commissioners present. Mayor Mahoney presiding.

CARES Act-Emergency Fund Relief Update;
Commissioner Grindberg said Planning Department staff continues to have regular discussions with FirstLink about what the needs are in the community. He said Planning is currently discussing with the State the CBDG and HUD money and how to use those funds for assistance in the community. United Way continues to focus on homeless prevention and housing stabilization, he stated, and is assuming there will be an increase in need three to six months out with the COVID-19 situation. He said through May 2nd, there have been 889 calls to FirstLink and the majority of those calls were regarding housing and food assistance. The F-M Area Foundation Response Fund has awarded just under $194,000.00 to a number of entities for efforts to help those in need, he said, and Dakota Medical Foundation is hosting a 19-day campaign to raise funds for non-profits who are providing needs in the areas of food, cleaning supplies, digital resources and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). A lot of good work is going on in the community, he said, and the Commissioners are involved with helping figure out the City’s fit with any State or Federal money.

Temporary Suspension of Budgeted Expenditures Approved:
The Board received a Report of Action from the Finance Committee regarding the temporary suspension of budgeted expenditures in Personnel, Operating and Capital as a result of declining revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

City Administrator Bruce Grubb said the Finance Committee evaluated the potential for declining revenues due to the pandemic and as a result, looked at potential suspensions of spending in the General, Enterprise and Capital Outlay funds. He said the budget team has been evaluating the City’s 2020 budgets for the past several weeks, starting with the revenue budgets and the major focus was related to revenues and expenditures in the General and Utility Funds. A detailed First Quarter comparison of budgeted versus actual showed budgeted revenue in the General Fund was 6 percent less than budgeted and Utility Funds were 2 percent less than projected. He said looking forward to Quarters 2, 3 and 4, there was some concern about extended negative impacts to the General Fund revenue sources, such as property taxes, fees, highway funds, state aid and sales tax. The budget team researched any stimulus funding that might be available to local governments, he said, for example, the CARES Act provided additional funding for transit systems and CBDG programs; therefore, when factoring in various revenue line item declines against various increases as a result of stimulus funding, a net reduction in General Fund revenue of about $3 million was determined to be appropriate. The Team then reviewed the General Fund expense budgets in an effort to find an adequate amount of spending reductions and/or suspension to offset the projected decline in revenues. He said all three major expense categories were reviewed including Personnel, Operating and Capital. Based on those reviews and discussions with Department and Division heads, the list of recommended temporary General Fund expenditure suspensions are as follows:

Personnel
Full-time vacant positions $255,000.00
Part-time seasonal $400,000.00
Overtime reductions $225,000.00
Workers compensation $100,000.00
Total suspended amount $980,000.00

Operating
Travel $200,000.00
Training/conferences $157,000.00
General supplies $50,000.00
Other $65,000.00
Total suspended amount $472,000.00

Capital
Capital Fund 101 $275,000.00 (40 percent)
Equipment Fund 475 $1,300,000.00 (30 percent)

Temporary Suspension Total $3,036,877.00

Commissioner Grindberg said no one can predict what things will look like in three months or six months; however, there are going to be challenges. He said he has had conversations with State officials who shared data and economic analysis that shows oil prices coming back to $35.00 or $40.00 a barrel in late 2021 or early 2022. He said State sales tax collections, and oil exploration and oil drilling are a significant part of the sales tax generated at the State level. He said he visited with local Job Service officials and unemployment claims have slowed, which is a good sign and the opinions of most of those filing for unemployment is they expect to go back to work soon. He said another point that he wants to share is that in conversations he has had with subcontractors for package delivery services, they cannot find enough equipment and drivers to deliver the absolute staggering number of packages coming into the community. He said everyone would be amazed to know how many people have boxes delivered to their homes every day, which is going to have its own set of circumstances on commercial real estate and traditional shopping. He said it will be interesting to see the sales tax numbers.

Commissioner Gehrig moved the temporary suspension of budgeted expenditures be approved, as presented.

Second by Grindberg. On call of the roll Commissions Gehrig, Grindberg, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being present and none voting nay the motion was declared carried.

Revisions to the 2020 Capital Improvement Plan Approved:
City Engineer Brenda Derrig said some amendments to the 2020 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) have been made as a result of the effects of the pandemic along with a reduction in revenue funds. She said several projects will have to be delayed; however, those that are being delayed will have a minimal impact on the infrastructure network as long as the projects are programmed in the near future. There were many factors associated with the recommended reductions, she said, including the decrease in allocations of Prairie Dog Funds and sales tax, along with fewer seasonal staff members. There were a number or projects created, bid and awarded anticipating the utilization of Prairie Dog Funds, she said, and if those funds are not available, the City can use Infrastructure Sales Tax (Fund 420) in lieu of the Prairie Dog Funds. In the original 2020 CIP, the anticipated expenditure was $11,403,678.00 in Prairie Dog Funds and $6,166,199.00 in sales tax, for a total of $17,569,877.00, she said. The reduced 2020 CIP will expend $10,399,253.00 between those same two funds, which is a reduction of $7,170,624.00 or about 40.8 percent. There will be no change in federal aid, water main and street reconstruction, storm sewer utility, alley paving and new development projects. Arterial roadway improvements, including 45th Street South from 52nd to 64th Avenue, will not advance this year and the scope of the 7th Avenue North project was reduced, she said. Flood control projects have been delayed, she said, due to the inability to have neighborhood meetings due to social distancing requirements currently in place. Other changes include reduced or eliminated Pavement Preservation Projects, Traffic and Streetlight Improvements and sidewalk projects. Eliminated miscellaneous projects include a tree-planting project, water service lowering and sanitary sewer lining/manhole rehabilitation, she said. In addition, these changes to the CIP have a significant change to the anticipated expenditures and to the fees that are collected. She said the original CIP had a total of $7,541,009.00 in engineering and administrative fees, the reduced CIP comes in at $4,881,791.00 which equals a reduction of $2,659, 217.00 .

In response to a question from Commissioner Strand asking if the City has heard from the State that there is in fact quantifiable reductions in the Prairie Dog Fund or is this just an estimate of what it may look like, Commissioner Grindberg said there has not been an official statement; however, it is clear the funds are not going to be here this biennium.

Commissioner Grindberg moved the revisions to the 2020 CIP be approved, as presented.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Grindberg, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay the motion was declared carried.

Commissioner Grindberg moved that the Board adjourn to 5:00 o’clock p.m., Monday, May 18, 2020.

Second by Gehrig. All the Commissioners voted aye and the motion was declared carried.
The time at adjournment was 6:41 o’clock p.m.