Menu

City Commission

Fargo City Commission - September 21, 2020

The Regular Meeting of the Board of City Commissioners of the City of Fargo, North Dakota, was held in the City Commission Room at City Hall at 5:00 o'clock p.m., Monday, September 21, 2020.
The Commissioners present or absent were as shown following:
Present: Gehrig, Piepkorn, Preston, Strand, Mahoney.
Absent: None.
Mayor Mahoney presiding.

Mayor Mahoney read a message with the following information: Fargo Cass Public Health reminds the community of the importance of receiving the flu vaccine this year; as of October 1st, the Fargo Public Library will no longer charge late fees or fines on materials; the Library will continue to charge fees for lost, missing or damaged items; the downtown Main Library is accepting new, handmade masks for its Mask Tree; the deadline to complete the 2020 Census is September 30th; and four Fargo firefighters are in Oregon to assist with the wildfires as part of a task force established with Fire Departments from Grand Forks, Minot and Williston. Videos highlighting the Fargo firefighters work in Oregon were shown.
Mayor Mahoney said Item No. “35” on the agenda is a discussion on mask policy recommendations and it was not going to be open for public comments; however, the Commissioners have asked public comments be allowed. Public comments will continue for 30 minutes, he said, and each person will have two and a half minutes to speak.

Order of Agenda Approved:
Commissioner Piepkorn moved the Order of the Agenda be approved, tabling Item No. “40” on the Regular Agenda for two weeks.

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 September 8, 2020 be approved as read.

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

Consent Agenda Approved
Commissioner Preston moved the Consent Agenda be approved as follows:
1. Receive and file an Ordinance Amending Section 13-0901 of Article 13-09 of Chapter 13 of the Fargo Municipal Code Relating to Junk Automobiles.
2. 1st reading of an Ordinance Amending Section 8-0101 and 8-0109 of Article 8-01 of Chapter 8, Section 18-0308 of Article 18-03 of Chapter 18, Section 10-0311 of Article 10-03 of Chapter 10, and Section 11-0201 of Article 11-02 of Chapter 11 of the Fargo Municipal Code Relating to Central Business District.
3. Waive requirement to receive and file an Ordinance one week prior to 1st reading and 1st reading of an Ordinance Amending Sections 8-1701 through 8-1713 of Article 8-17 of Chapter 8, Relating to Snow Emergency Route and Snow Emergency Declaration and Section 1-0305 of Article 1-03 of Chapter 1, of the Fargo Municipal Code Relating to Penalty.
4. 2nd reading and final adoption of the following Ordinances; 1st reading, 9/8/20:
a. Rezoning Certain Parcels of Land Lying in the Proposed RTFMA Addition to the City of Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota.
b. Rezoning Certain Parcels of Land Lying in the Proposed MBA Investments Addition to the City of Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota.
5. Extension of the Contract with John M. Olson, P.C. to provide Government Relations and Legislative Advocacy Services to the City for the 2021 Legislative Session.
6. Resolution Authorizing Sale of Property at 501 Main Avenue (Attachment “A”).
7. Application for Games of Chance for the Red River Zoo for a raffle board on 11/2/20; Public Spirited Resolution.
8. Creation Resolution (Attachment “B); Report of Costs Business Improvement District No. BID2021; Resolution Accepting Downtown Business Improvement District Plans and Specifications and Related MOU (Attachment “C”) and; Resolution Declaring Downtown Business Improvement District Necessary Improvement District No. BID2021 (Attachment “D”).
9. Change Order No. 5 for an increase of $28,431.87 for Project No. UR-19-A1.
10. Change Order No. 13 for an increase of $2,785.00 for Project No. FM-15-K1.
11. Agreement of Clarification (Project No. FM-19-F1).
12. Access Easement (Street Easement) with Southeast Cass Water Resource District (Drain #53).
13. Bid award to LinnCo, Inc. in the amount of $575,837.71 for Project No. HD-19-A1.
14. Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Right of Way Encroachment and Road Maintenance with Reed Township (Project No. FM-16-A1).
15. Right of Way Repair and Replacement Agreement with 404 Place, LLC.
16. Receive and file Financial Status Report Year to Date through 8/31/20 for major operating funds (unaudited).
17. Receive and file General Fund-Budget to Actual through August 2020 (unaudited).
18. State Water Commission request for cost reimbursement for the FM Metro Area Flood Risk Management Project for costs totaling $1,159,089.95.
19. Agreements for Services with the following:
a. Sara Mwagura.
b. Samantha Nienow, Red Zest Design, Inc.
c. Nate Hendrickson.
d. anis Walch.
e. Child Care Aware of ND.
20. Notice of Grant Award from the ND Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Preventative Health and Health Services Block Grant (CFDA #93.991).
21. Notice of Grant Award from the ND Department of Health and Human Services for Increasing Breastfeeding Rates/Reducing Overweight/Obesity (CFDA #93.994).
22. Notice of Grant Award-Amendment from the ND Department of Health and USDA for WIC and EBT (CFDA #’s 10.557 and 10.578).
23. City of Fargo Temporary Employment Policy-Sick and Annual Leave (vacation) Usage and Donation of Annual Leave for COVID-19 related absences.
24. Set October 5, 2020 at 5:15 p.m. as the date and time for a hearing on a dangerous building at 703 12th Street North.
25. Bid awards to Excavating, Inc. in the amount of $1,667,745.40 for Civil Construction; Roers Construction in the amount of $810,000.00 for General Construction; Manning Mechanical in the amount of $198,000.00 for Mechanical Construction; and Superior Electric in the amount of $224,059.00 for Electrical Construction for Project No. SW20-01.
26. Contract and bond for Project No. FM-16-A1.
27. Bills in the amount of $12,544,191.63.

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

Final Balancing Change Order No. 4 for Improvement District No. TN-19-A1 Approved:
Commissioner Preston moved Final Balancing Change Order No. 4 for an increase of $22,849.65 for Improvement District No. TN-19-A1 be approved.

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

Modification of the Contract Language for Improvement District No. BR-19-A1 Approved:
The Board received a communication from the Public Works Projects Evaluation Committee regarding a request to modify the contract language for incentive for Improvement District No. BR-19-A1. They said the contractor is requesting credit for the full incentive and while minor items remained past the target date, the roadway is 100 percent functional. They said one of the key subcontractors learned some of their employees tested positive for COVID-19 and to get a handle on the situation and to prevent the potential spread of the virus, the contractor chose to have all of its employees cease working on projects in order to get tested. Due to this protocol, they said, the subcontractor was not able to do any work on Main Avenue for two full days. Since that time, they said, the remaining items are complete. The modification of the contract language is as follows: “If all work needed to open the roadway safely to the traveling public, with the exception of DMS Sign, HAWK, removals of control box and pedestrian signs on the project, is completed on or before October 16, 2020, an incentive payment of $10,000.00 per calendar day for each day before and including October 16th that all work is complete with the maximum incentive payment for all work completed on or before October 16, 2020 at $400,000.00. Holidays and Sundays will be counted as calendar days for application of the incentive.”
Commissioner Preston moved the Modification of the Contract Language for Improvement District No. BR-19-A1 be approved.

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

Change Order No. 1 and Time Extension for Improvement District No. BN-20-E1 Approved:
The Board received a communication from the Public Works Projects Evaluation Committee stating the Change Order is three requests for additional contract work: change a three-way intersection to a four-way in order to provide for a future drain crossing, additional services for one of the lots in the development and removal of a clay berm, which is no longer needed. They said the contractor has requested moving the substantial completion date to October 2, 2020 and the final completion date to November 2, 2020.
Commissioner Preston moved Change Order No. 1 for an increase of $51,766.20 and a 17-day time extension for Improvement District No. BN-20-E1 be approved.

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

Revision to the 2021 Preliminary Capital Improvement Plan to Add Improvement District No. BN-21-A1 Approved:
The Board received a communication from the Public Works Projects Evaluation Committee stating Improvement District No. BN-21-A1 is for a new bridge, underground utilities, paving, shared use path and structure and incidentals for 64th Avenue South from 33rd to 38th Street to be included in the 2021 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). They said the preliminary 2021 CIP had the 64th Avenue South Federal Aid Project from west of 33rd Street to 45th Street South; however, after design, evaluation of funding and adjacent development, the termini for the federal project was adjusted to 38th Street and the remaining project will be a City project.
Commissioner Preston moved the Revision to the 2021 Preliminary Capital Improvement Project to Add Improvement District No. BN-21-A1 be approved.

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

City of Fargo Concurs with Southeast Cass Water Resource District Bid Award for Improvement District No. FM-20-C1:
The Board received a communication from Assistant City Engineer Tom Knakmuhs stating bids were opened by the Southeast Cass Water Resource District (SECWRD) on September 1, 2020 for the Drain 53 Improvement Project Improvement District No. FM-20-C1. He said the low bid was from Dan Hart Patrol Services, LLC in the amount of $805,714.67. There are Special Assessments associated with the project, he said, and there were no protests received. He stated Fargo’s construction cost share of this project is $498,554.84 with $191,395.00 being reimbursed to the City through a construction agreement with the adjacent developer for LOMR work included in the project.
Commissioner Preston moved to declare protests to be insufficient and to concur with the low bid and recommend the Southeast Cass Water Resource District award the low bid to Dan Hart Patrol Services, LLC in the amount of $805,714.67 for Improvement District No. FM-20-C1.

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

New Bridge, Underground Utilities, Paving, Shared Use Path and Structure, and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-21-A (64th Avenue South from 33rd to 38th Street):
Commissioner Preston moved the following action be taken in connection with New Bridge, Underground Utilities, Paving, Shared Use Path and Structure, and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-21-A:

Adopt Resolution Creating Improvement District No. BN-21-A:
WHEREAS, The Board of City Commissioners of the City of Fargo, North Dakota, deems it expedient that Improvement District No. BN-21-A in the City of Fargo, North Dakota, be created

LOCATION:
On 64th Avenue South from 33rd Street South to 38th Street South.

COMPRISING:
North half of Section 9, Township 138 North, Range 49 West.
All of Maplewood Estates Addition.

North half of Section 12, Township 138 North, Range 49 West, west of University Drive South (US HWY 81).
South half of Section 1, Township 138 North, Range 49 West, west of University Drive South (US HWY 81).
Excluding:
Lot 2, Block 1, Legacy I 5th Addition.
Lot 4 and 5, Block 2, all in Legacy I 2nd Addition.
Lots 28 and 29, Block 4, all in Legacy I 1st Addition.
Including:
Lots 18 and 19, Block 2, all in Legacy I 5th Addition.
Lots 6, 7 and 8, Block 2, all in Legacy I 2nd Addition.

All of the foregoing is located in the City of Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota.

South half of Section 4, Township 138 North, Range 49 West.
South half of Section 2, Township 138 North, Range 49 West.
Lots 1 and 2, Block 1 all in Providence at Prairie Farms Addition.

North half of Section 11, Township 138 North, Range 49 West excluding lots 4 through 12, Block 4 all in Golden Valley Addition.

All of the foregoing is located in the City of Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota and its Extra-Territorial Area.

North half of Section 10, Township 138 North, Range 49 West.
Southwest Quarter (SW ¼) of Section 3, Township 138 North, Range 49 West.
All of the unplatted land in the Southeast Quarter (SE ¼) of Section 3, Township 138 North, Range 49 West.
All of the unplatted land in the Northeast Quarter (NE ¼) of Section 3, Township 138 North, Range 49 West.

All of the foregoing is located in the City of Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota Extra-Territorial Area.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That New Bridge, Underground Utilities, Paving, Shared Use Path and Structure, and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-21-A in the City of Fargo, North Dakota, be and the same is hereby created.

Request Report and Estimate of Cost From the City Engineer for Improvement District No. BN-21-A:
Direct City Engineer to report as to the general nature, purpose and feasibility relative to the construction of Improvement District No. BN-21-A in the City of Fargo, North Dakota; as well as an estimate of the approximate cost of said construction. (The Engineer's estimate of cost is $16,739,969.75.)

Order Plans and Specifications for Improvement District No. BN-21-A:
Direct City Engineer to prepare Plans and Specifications for construction of Improvement District No. BN-21-A in the City of Fargo, North Dakota.

Adopt Resolution Approving Plans and Specifications and Engineer's Report for Improvement District No. BN-21-A:
WHEREAS, The Board of City Commissioners of the City of Fargo, North Dakota, has created Improvement District No. BN-21-A in the City of Fargo, North Dakota, as required by law; and
WHEREAS, Plans and Specifications and the Engineer's Report prepared by the City Engineer, have been considered.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Plans and Specifications and Engineer's Report for the construction of Improvement District No. BN-21-A in the City of Fargo, North Dakota, be and the same are hereby approved and ordered filed in the Office of the City Auditor.

Adopt Resolution Declaring New Bridge, Underground Utilities, Paving, Shared Use Path and Structure, and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-21-A Necessary:
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF CITY COMMISSIONERS OF THE CITY OF FARGO:
That it be and is hereby declared necessary to construct New Bridge, Underground Utilities, Paving, Shared Use Path and Structure, and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-21-A in the City of Fargo, North Dakota, according to the Engineer’s Report for this district and the Plans and Specifications approved by the Board of City Commissioners of the City of Fargo, North Dakota, filed in the Office of the City Auditor, and open for public inspection. A map of the district is attached hereto and incorporated as if fully set forth herein.
That a portion of said New Bridge, Underground Utilities, Paving, Shared Use Path and Structure, and Incidentals improvement is to be paid from State and Local Funds, and approximately 40% is to be assessed against the benefited property in amounts proportionate to and not exceeding the benefits to be derived by them respectively from said improvement.
Protests against the proposed New Bridge, Underground Utilities, Paving, Shared use Path and Structure, and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-21-A must be in writing and must be filed with the City Auditor's Office within 30 days after the first publication of this Resolution.

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

Presentation on Community Development Projects:
Community Development Planning Coordinator Tia Braseth said some of the upcoming Community Development Projects include Beyond Shelter’s two senior rental housing projects: HomeField 3 and Milton Earl. The Fargo Housing and Redevelopment Authority (FHRA) is developing Elliott Place, she said, which is being built to assist people moving out of the Lashkowitz High Rise. There were also several lots acquired for the Community Land Trust, she said, many of which were acquired due to tax forfeiture or blighted conditions. She said homes will be built on these lots by Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together. There were also several public facility projects, she said, including playground improvements at Washington Elementary School, overall improvements made to the Gladys Ray Shelter and acquisition assistance to Youthworks for a homeless youth shelter as well as several single-family home rehabilitation projects. She said public service projects included Fargo-Moorhead Coalition for Homeless Persons and Gladys Ray Shelter operations, homebuyer and tenant education, North Dakota State College of Science job training, fair housing education and income limited snow removal and bus passes. Future projects for Community Development, she said, are Mobile Outreach for the homeless community, an Engagement Center, winter overflow and quarantine projects for the homeless, as well as housing and food pantry assistance.

In response to a question from Mayor Mahoney asking if more federal money will be awarded for these types of projects, Ms. Braseth said about $500,000.00 in additional federal money is expected.

COVID-19 Update:
Fargo Cass Public Health Director Desi Fleming said as of today, there are 528 active cases of COVID-19 in Cass County with new cases increasing in Cass County and significantly increasing across the state. She said Cass County had a current case high of 93 in May and it is getting close to that point again. She said in May there was the benefit of going into summer and people being able to be outdoors. Now, she said, cases are increasing and going into the colder seasons with indoor air confinement may add to the challenges. Deaths and hospitalizations have remained low for several months, she stated, with deaths in Cass County at 77. The age group now for the highest infection rate is 15- to 29-years-old and there is some spillover into long-term care with staff and residents, she said, due to that age group being out and about, then working in some of those facilities. She said the mortality rate for the long-term care population is especially high with the virus and that is concerning. She said there is more research now about healthy young people and healthy adults who have mild to no symptoms and are COVID positive and are having health effects lasting months after a diagnosis. She said those people are termed “long haulers” due to the fact that they are suffering after a seemingly minor illness; therefore, the thought that this virus is no big deal for young, healthy people is not the case anymore. The State uses a metric to grade risk categories, she said, and Cass County is currently in the green designation, although the State has said it is only going to change that designation every 14 days based on 14-day rolling averages. Cass County is in the yellow designation for the average active cases per 10,000 residents at 23.7, she said, and the average positivity rate of 5.8 percent. In Cass County, she said, both of those metrics continue to increase. She said Cass County is in the blue category for testing, which is at 56.2 and that is due to the robust testing efforts based on a targeted testing matrix. All of these numbers have been increasing steadily since August, she said, around the time when school was coming back into session. The State also considers other factors when determining risk levels that may include population density, deaths, hospitalization rates and current active cases within a county. She said from a local public health perspective and with two of Cass County’s indicators being in the yellow risk category, when people call FCPH with questions about large events, the advice has been to go by the yellow risk mitigation factors even though Cass County is in the green designation. She said there are 23 contact tracing staff working from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and cases are now more complex, with double or triple the amount of close contacts per positive case. She said FCPH is seeing more non-compliance with people providing information, those not willing to following guidance and it is a challenging effort. Many people in the area are doing what is asked, she said; however, if FCPH staff contacts someone, she asks that they provide the information that is sought, which helps FCPH identify potential new cases and to eventually slow the spread. She said the State is making national news and not in a positive way and everyone needs to do better with compliance, masks, social distancing, hygiene and listening to science in order to get through the next six to eight months. She said businesses that are making efforts to mitigate risks need everyone’s support and at some point, everyone will have to be willing to make unpopular decisions knowing that the outcome will be worth the effort. She said she recognizes the varying opinions and understands that everyone wants to be normal again; however, the reality is things are a long way from being normal.

In response to a question from Commissioner Preston asking what is causing the spike in the number of contacts per case, Ms. Fleming said people are just tired of it, they are not wearing masks and they are out having contacts. She said when the higher numbers were seen in March and April, people were indoors more; therefore, the amount of exposure they had was less. Now people are more active, she said, and they are not following precautions, there are more contacts and it is in a younger age category who tend to be more social. She said there are many reasons people do not share information; however, they need to understand it is important FCPH is able to get the information in order to investigate properly and to give people instructions on how to keep others safe.

Commissioner Piepkorn said he would like to see how many intensive care beds are being used strictly for COVID-19 patients.

In response to a question from Commissioner Strand asking how many local front-line healthcare workers have died from COVID-19, Ms. Fleming said she does not have those statistics. She said healthcare workers are exhausted, it is hard, stressful work and due to that, people are leaving the healthcare field.

Commissioner Preston said there needs to be some type of communication to get people to understand why FCPH is asking those questions.

Mayor Mahoney said it is difficult to isolate only COVID-related deaths as often times there are a myriad of other medical issues and a specific cause is difficult to ascertain. He said when he fills out a death summary he has to list every disease a person has.

City Attorney Directed to Draft Ordinances Establishing Mask Mandates With and Without a Penalty for Violation: Ordinances to be Considered at the Next Regular City Commission Meeting:
The Board received a communication from Commissioner Strand asking the Board to consider a City policy that would mandate facemasks where social distancing is not possible in public settings and exceptions for those who cannot wear a mask due to medical or other conditions. He said the policy to consider would be similar to policies made in New York and Arkansas and would not include civil or criminal penalties. There are a million opinions on the subject, he said, yet everyone plays a role in a healthier community, and there are many examples of people following rules and laws for the greater public good and the safety of the public. Those who drove to this meeting tonight had to stop at stoplights, he said, and there were speed limits to obey. If someone goes into a restaurant or bar, he said, there are limits on how much that person can drink and they cannot light up a cigarette. He said if he did not sincerely believe there was a value to elevating the community’s response individually and collectively to this pandemic, he would not be bringing this forward. The City Commission needs to keep this front and center, he said, and then at the right time, when the dust settles, pull back on the actions and hopefully acknowledge the successes of the efforts.

Mayor Mahoney said he read the New York Ordinance and there were penalties which stated “the violation of any provision is subject to civil and criminal penalties as provided by law, individuals who violate this are subject to a maximum fine of $1,000.00 for each violation.”

Commissioner Strand said the New York Ordinance gave local jurisdictions the ability to decide what to do or not and the implementation did not have any enforcement; however, New York allowed local governments to not impose penalties.

In response to a question from Mayor Mahoney asking Commissioner Strand if he wants penalties or not, Mr. Strand said he is suggesting no penalties, citations or criminal enforcement.

The following people spoke in favor of a mask mandate: Dr. Jane Winston, Wess Philome, Clair Derby, Arden Light and JJ Daniels.

The following people spoke against a mask mandate: Glenn Knudson, Loretta Smith, Vicki Bailie, Mike Felber, Bridget Ertelt, Janet Wendel, Andrew Peterson, Brad Friesen and Mike Trottier.
Commissioner Strand moved the City Attorney be directed to draft an Ordinance establishing a mask mandate as presented, place the Ordinance on the next City Commission agenda to receive and file with a recommendation to waive the requirement to receive and file and that be 1st reading and the Ordinance, if implemented, be reviewed every three months.

Second by Preston.

Commissioner Strand said exemptions to the rule of requiring face coverings or six-foot distancing would include: persons younger than 10 years of age; persons with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering; persons performing job duties where a six-foot distance is not achievable but a mask is inhibitory to the ability to safely and effectively perform the job duty; persons participating in athletic activities where a six-foot distance is not achievable, but a mask is inhibitory to the activity; persons consuming food or drink; persons driving alone or with passengers from the driver’s household; persons receiving service that requires access to the face for security, surveillance or other purposes may temporarily remove a face covering while receiving those services; persons voting, assisting voters, serving as poll watchers or actively performing election administration duties; however, face coverings are strongly encouraged; persons engaged in religious worship activities; however, face coverings are strongly encouraged; persons giving a speech or performance for broadcast or to an audience; however, those persons shall safely distance from nearby individuals.

Commissioner Preston requested that the following petition posted on Change.org be included in the minutes of this City Commission meeting, which at the time of the meeting had garnered 1,066 signatures: “As the largest city in North Dakota, Fargo is at the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States. As of mid-September of 2020, our state has the highest per capita (per person) number of new infections in the U.S. The number of infections in Cass County has increased 6-fold in the last month. With adequate precautions, COVID-19 is preventable, yet too many people in our city are getting sick, and in some cases dying. There is ample evidence, as stated by the CDC and endorsed by the North Dakota State Health Officer, that masks are essential. Both Governor Doug Burgum and his challenger in the upcoming election, Shelley Lenz, have publicly supported mask wearing as key to public health. This is not a political issue. It is a matter of life and death. Our elders are not expendable. Nor are people with disabilities or underlying health conditions. We cannot be silent while watching the growth in COVID-19 cases. We call on the Fargo City Commission to issue a mask mandate that will apply to everyone who enters a business, workplace or non-profit organization in Fargo. Currently, in spite of the clear benefits, mask wearing in Fargo is minimal. A mandate would remove the social stigma associated with mask wearing and dramatically increase mask use. We each have a role to play in prevention – not only for our own health, but for the health of our neighbors and loved ones. As our leaders, please support this life-saving effort for the city we love.”

Mayor Mahoney said this is a tough decision due to the fact that it is mandate versus directive. The directive in place now does not have any penalties if a person does not wear a mask, he said, although it is a strong recommendation from the City Commission that a mask be worn if social distancing is not possible. It also recommends that masks be worn in places such as grocery stores, he said; however, the word “mandate” evokes emotional responses from people from both sides. It makes good sense to wear a mask, he stated, and that is what this Board directed. Unless there is some type of enforcement with a mandate, he said, it is hard to enforce and to have his Police officers walk up to someone and say “please wear a mask and if you do not it is a $100.00 or $200.00 fine,” that puts this Board in conflict with the Police. He said it is not comfortable for anyone to ask someone to wear a mask and he is concerned about that. He said he would not support a mandate due to the fact that the directive is saying what this Board is trying to do and that is people need to wear masks. He said he and FCPH know Cass County may go from green to yellow and that is going to inhibit social gatherings. He said the schools have already gone to distance learning, which is horrible for the children; however, numbers are going up due to the fact that a lot more testing is being done and FCPH is doing contact tracing, which will help get to the people who have the disease and get them isolated or quarantined. He said 80 percent of the messages he received said “no mask” and 20 percent wanted masks and it is a very volatile topic.

Commissioner Preston said she thinks the graduated approach to this has been good and a mandate does cause an emotional response; however, it also communicates to the community that this is serious and it is getting more serious. She said the Board can jump from a directive to enforcement; however, there is a middle step and that is making sure people know and understand that this Board knows this is serious. She said she thinks it will reach some people who are not using masks and possibly would wear masks now that the Board is telling them it is serious enough for a mandate.

In response to a question from Commissioner Strand asking if the Mayor would support a mandate if there were enforcement, Mayor Mahoney said he does not think what is being proposed is any different than what is already in place and he would not support it if there were enforcement.

Commissioner Strand said the earliest this would be in place is October 19th and every single day there are lives in the balance and if this Board does not act then this Board is not leading.

Commissioner Preston said it is a matter of directing the language be drawn up so it is prepared and ready and that is all that is being asked for tonight; otherwise, it is going to stretch out even further if the numbers continue to go up.

Commissioner Strand said when this discussion surfaced, it was on the table that this Board needed to be prepared in case the numbers and trends did not go the right way and the numbers are not going the right way. If this is in the wings and ready to implement if needed, he said, the Board can vote it down if the trends turn in the right direction. He said the Board does not have to act right now; however, having this as a preventative measure for the greater good of the community.

In response to a question from Mayor Mahoney asking if the Board could do something on October 5th if the health in the community was at such a risk that the Board would have to do something immediately and what vehicle would be used, City Attorney Erik Johnson said there are steps; however, they can be shortened. He said there could be Special Meetings so there is the idea of receiving and filing, which is a requirement. He said he could draft something and submit it and it could be received and filed and then the Board take no further action at the next meeting; however, in terms of fast tracking it, the Board would need Special Meetings. Waiting two weeks is not necessary, he said; however, there is a requirement of at least one week between first and second readings and that could be waived by the City Commission.
Commissioner Strand moved to amend the original motion to direct the City Attorney to present the Ordinance with and without a penalty for violation.

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

On call of the original motion, as amended, Commissioner Strand, Preston and Mahoney voted aye.
Commissioners Gehrig and Piepkorn voted nay.
The motion was declared carried.

At 6:22 p.m. the Board took a five-minute recess.
After recess: All Commissioners present. Mayor Mahoney presiding.

Census 2020 Update:
Current Planning Coordinator Donald Kress said Fargo’s population in 2010 was 105,549. He said the Census does estimates between official censuses and in 2019, Fargo’s estimated population was 124,091, an increase of more than 19,000 in nine years. He said the goal of the Census is to get a complete count of everyone in the United States and there are two parts to the count: the self-response and the non-response follow-up. The self-response, he said, is where individuals respond to the Census online, on the phone or via paper response and the non-response follow-up is done by Census employees who go to an address and ask the same questions on the Census form. He said the current rate for self-response in Fargo was 67.8 percent, which is up slightly from earlier in the week. He said the non-response follow-up is 96.8 percent complete statewide; however, that number is not broken down by city. He said the important thing to remember is that the last day to self-respond is September 30th. Federal funding is distributed based on the Census, he said, and over the past five years, that annual federal funding for Fargo has been about $50 million.

Tax Levies for the Budget Year Beginning January 1, 2021 and Ending December 31, 2021 Approved:
Mayor Mahoney said the 2021 City of Fargo Budget and Proposed Tax Levies are being presented to the Board tonight for approval.

Commissioner Gehrig said there is a lot he likes in this budget; however, he wants to point out some things he does not like. He said the City is raising utility rates, which indicates to the taxpayer the City is not taking in enough money to run those utilities; however, that is not the case. He said the City is asking for more money, for example, increased drop fees at the Landfill, and taking that money and moving it into the General Fund or other places in order to fund other things not related to that utility. It is, in his mind, dishonest to ask the taxpayer to pay more in utility rates, which taxpayers think are fees for services, he said; however, the City is using that money elsewhere. He said it has been that way for many years and it needs to end. The Art and Social Services Fund is getting $500,000.00 and he has been opposed to this for a very long time, he said, and especially now with COVID and people are hurting. He said the City is asking residents to pay taxes and then the City takes those tax dollars and redistributes them to charities of the City’s choice and it also goes to fund arts in the community, which are also charities. Perhaps taxpayers have a charity they like, he said, such as the Autism Center, and the City should allow the citizens to use their dollars for a charity of their choice. Over the last five years, he said, there have been double-digit increases in valuations in Fargo from new and existing construction. He said home values have gone up significantly; however, the mills have stayed the same or barely gone down in the last five years; therefore, the City is taking in millions of dollars more through property taxes. However, he said, the City says it did not raise taxes due to the fact that the mills have stayed the same. If valuations skyrocket and the mills stay the same, taxes go up, he said, and in this time when people are hurting due to lost jobs, if someone’s property value goes up that person is paying more in taxes and the City needs to correct this and lower the mills. He understands the need for it and why the City does it, he said; however, most people in Fargo do not know what the City is doing. There is a General Fund and the City does a lot of business out of that fund, he said. In the last few years, the City has taken bits and pieces from the General Fund and created new funds, one million here, five million there, and then says the General Fund is down. It did not go down, he said, the City just moved those dollars to a different fund, which made it look like the General Fund went down and then increases the General Fund and says it only went up two percent when in actuality it goes up by 10 percent or 15 percent. He said the City needs more transparency and the City needs to compare apples to apples when talking to the public about the General Fund. He said he thinks the City can do better, especially given the times. The budget is still increasing a significant amount, he said, despite the fact that most people in the community have had some sort of effects from COVID-19 and he hoped for lowered property taxes and special assessments.

Commissioner Strand said he has one reservation about the budget and that is there is not a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) offering for City employees. He said there are step increases; however, the trade-off to that is the City is not laying people off and not tightening belts to the point where there are cuts to services. He said City employees who are not getting a COLA, especially in light of increased healthcare costs, are going to feel it.
Commissioner Piepkorn moved the 12-month budget beginning January 1, 2021 and ending December 31, 2021 be approved as follows:
General Fund $97,441,000
Special Revenue Funds:
City Share of Special Assessments 799,000
Noxious Weeds 46,750
Convention Bureau 1,265,400
Regional Law Enforcement Training Center 100,000
Court Forfeits 100,000
Skyway Maintenance 204,000
Downtown Business Improvement District 500,000
Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives (NRI) 8,650
Community Development Block Grant 819,752
HOME Program -
Neighborhood Stabilization Grant -
HOME Projects 497,690
Parking Authority Operations 2,670,073
Parking Repair and Replacement 33,721
Newman Outdoor Stadium 206,000
Total Special Revenue Fund Expenditures $7,251,036

Debt Service Fund Expenditures $85,478,225

Enterprise Funds:
Water $26,377,505
Solid Waste 16,671,475
Wastewater 16,000,635
Forestry 2,590,573
Street Lighting 3,703,291
Storm Sewer 2,383,812
Vector Control 711,971
Southeast Cass Sewer 55,684
Transit Capital 12,906,572
Civic Center 458,078
FARGODOME 6,968,711
Airport Authority 20,447,057
Total Enterprise Fund Expenses $109,275,364

Pension Trust Funds:
City Employee Pension 3,913,500
Police Pension 4,510,500
Total Pension Trust Funds $8,424,000

Grand Total - All Funds $307,869,625

Preliminary Tax Levies Are:
General Fund 49.80
City Share of Special Improvements 1.10
Weed Control 0.10
Airport Construction 2.00
Total Proposed Mills Levied for 2021 Budget 53.00

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

Karen Moore Reappointed to the Housing and Redevelopment Authority:
The Board received a communication from Mayor Mahoney recommending that Karen Moore be reappointed to the Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
Commissioner Strand moved Karen Moore be reappointed to the Housing and Redevelopment Authority for a three-year term ending September 30, 2023.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Strand, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Preston 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. Ryan and Amber Thompson, 2702 25th Avenue South (3 year).
b. Tammy Lee, 1514 28th Avenue South (3 year).
c. Kristian and Cathy Knutson, 2818 27th Street South (3 year).
d. Magnuson Family RLT, 2814 27th Street South (3 year).
e. Meryl Jr. and Julie Willert, 922 Southwood Drive South (5 year).
f. Daniel Dahl and Mariko Nakasone Dahl, 2825 11th Street South (5 year).
g. Class B Development, LLC, 602 University Drive North (5 year).
h. Shawn and Darla Dobberstein, 2319 16th Street South (5 year).
i. Stephen Wassberg and Brenda Nelson-Wassberg, 2509 9th Street South (5 year).
Commissioner Piepkorn moved the applications be approved.

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

76th Avenue South Corridor Study Tabled for Two Weeks:
Commissioner Piepkorn moved the 76th Avenue South Corridor Study be tabled for two weeks.

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

Resident Public Comments:
Arden Light, Ritchell Aboah, Kristen Soule and Henry Gipp spoke on masks, homelessness and police relations.

Commissioner Piepkorn moved that the Board adjourn to 5:00 o’clock p.m., Monday, October 5, 2020.

Second by Preston. All the Commissioners voted aye and the motion was declared carried.
The time at adjournment was 6:52 o’clock p.m.