Homeowners speak to Lennox Council regarding special assessments


There were two public hearings at Monday night’s Lennox City Council meeting, one for Resolution 2021-3-22-04 Boynton Avenue Clean Water Funding Application and Resolution 2021-3-22-05 Boynton Avenue Drinking Water Funding Application. No one from the public was there to address the council. Council approved.

The second public hearing was for Resolution 2021-3-22-01 regarding the Ash Street Improvement Project. Affected homeowners were in attendance and several addressed the council.

South Ash Street is currently gravel, the proposed project will pave the street and includes curb, gutter and sidewalk. Lennox City Administrator Nathan Vander Plaats said he met with residents on this street on March 1 to discuss the likelihood of a Special Assessment to pay for the improvement.

The resolution in front of Council Monday stated that the City Council finds this project necessary, that plans and specifications will be available for public review, establishes the prices of the assessment, sets the terms for the payment of the special assessments, and that they intend to use sales tax loans against the 2nd Penny fund to pay for the improvements.

Vander Plaats explained the project cost is estimated at $205,000, of which the City would be responsible for approximately $100,000 and the property owners would be responsible for $105,000.

One homeowner said he and his neighbors are for the most part for it, but said there is concern about the cost.

“The pricing was unexpected,” he said.

Another homeowner said the price is just “way too high” and the interest was listed at 7%. She said her estimated Special Assessment was $321 every month for 10 years. She questioned the need for sidewalks on a dead-end street.

Council discussed lowering the interest rate, and a motion was made to amend the resolution to a 4% interest rate.

The resolution was approved as amended.

Council approved the consent agenda, consisting of minutes of previous meetings, claims and reports.

Under old business Stockwell Engineers brought a more detailed outline for the 2021 Street Improvements proposal and a 2022 Boynton Avenue Improvements proposal.

City Engineer Mitch Mergen said he modified the document to reflect an hourly contract and an overall schedule was included. Mayor Stacy DuChene brought up the idea to get another engineering quote for the Boynton project entirety to compare numbers.

Ultimately Council approved both proposals.

Under new business, Vander Plaats explained that the City of Lennox would like to change the use of Stockwell Engineers for water and wastewater operations assistance.

In a memo to the Council he wrote that they anticipate the Lennox Utility Superintendent will be granted the appropriate level of licensure for water distribution, wastewater collection, and wastewater treatment. As of that date, the City will no longer be required to contract with another operator (Stockwell) for these services to stay compliant with state and federal requirements.

City Engineer Mergen will be drafting an amended agreement for the City’s review.

Also under new business Council heard a request from the Lennox School District for a new no-parking zone on Elm Street. The new Lennox Elementary School project included a bus loading zone on the east side of Elm Street at the intersection with 5th Avenue. In order to safety and effectively move buses in and out of this loading zone, the District has requested two no parking zones along Elm Street.

Council amended the Resolution 2022-3-22-02 - No Parking Zones to include a time of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday per Police Chief Erickson’s recommendation.

Council approved Resolution 2021-03-22-03 Sales Tax Revenue Bond to be used for South Main and Ash Street.

In the past, the City of Lennox has used cash from Fund 212 (2nd Penny) to fund street improvements and large maintenance projects such as slurry seal/chip seal projects. Vander Plaats proposed a shift in how the City uses that fund.

“Rather than using cash as it accumulates, I am asking that the City instead leverage that cash for debt service,” explained Vander Plaats.

He continued to say that doing so is well within the City’s constitutional borrowing capacity, and said it reduces the time it will take to complete projects by several years, as the City will no longer build up the fund balance to pay cash for projects.

Vander Plaats said the resolution is the first step by establishing up to approximately $825,000 in sales tax revenue bonds.

“Toby Morris has worked to secure financing for us from a private lender, and the rates appear to be favorable (under 3%), with early payoff possible and a term of 10 years,” said Vander Plaats.

Next up Council took another look at the Capitol Improvement Plan. Vander Plaats described the plan as “aggressive”, stating that with the plan the results from the 2020 televising sanitary sewer project repairs would be done by 2025.

The Capitol Improvement Plan can be viewed in it’s entirety online HERE.

CIP Draft 3
.pdf
Download PDF • 4.02MB

Council anticipates informal public meetings to hear the public’s input regarding the plan.

Council approved an amendment to Lennox Parks and Recreation Policies. The Park Board recommended changes to the team selection and tournament team selection policies. Each year, the Lennox Parks and Recreation Program sponsors multiple tournament teams. These teams will be selected by a hired group of evaluators each season following their observation of player tryouts to be held prior to the season. Teams will be divided by skill level (for example, A Team, B Team, etc), and will be open to a number of teams based on the availability of coaches and other volunteers.

Tournament teams are open to any child currently attending Lennox Community Schools (including Worthing and Chancellor children). Once registration has closed, the Lennox Park Board will make a decision in consultation with coaches as to whether teams would be able to accept additional athletes from other communities for recreational programing and tournament teams.

This issue was extensively debated at the most recent Park Board meetings, and the language reflects the changes requested by the Park Board.

Amy Fischer was present to speak about starting a community garden, she noted that she had talked to City staff last year, but support from Council was not obtained. Council members brought up concern about funding and location.

Alderman Chad Wulf proposed she reach out to the Lennox School District.

Fischer expressed frustration that possible city land use was discussed last year, so she had thought she was on track for a community garden to begin.

Vander Plaats said the city would not be a fiscal agent but would give a donation to an entity.

“I’m disappointed in everybody,” Fischer said, “I’m trying to do good for the community; I’ve spent a year trying to do it. I don’t feel any support is there.”

“We will donate to the cause if it’s established enough to do that,” said Mayor DuChene.

Next on the agenda, Council discussed the possibility of bidding on three mobile homes in Lennox that are scheduled for sale under distress warrants for non-payment of taxes. Vander Plaats explained if the city purchased the mobile homes, they could demolish and haul out the remnants to the landfill in Sioux Falls.

Council members held some discussion, asking if the homes were occupied. It was determined that they were. The amount of taxes owed on the properties were $294.95, $168.55, and $110.88.

Vander Plaats was recommending Council authorize the City Administrator and Finance Officer to use up to $5000 in purchase of these properties at auction.

In a split vote of 3 yays to 3 nays, Mayor DuChene broke the tie with a vote against the recommendation.

Council approved the resignation of Building Inspector Greg McMahan effective March 24. Vander Plaats thanked him for his year of service.

Council accepted the resignation of Joe Kidd from the Planning Commission and approved the Mayor’s nomination of Alex Welbig as Planning Commissioner.

Council began to look at the Pool Organizational Structure, but entered executive session to discuss personnel before taking action.

The following hires were approved after executive session, Brittany Klinger, Pool Manager - $19/hour; Bridget Jackson, Assistant Pool Manager - $17/hour; Kate Jackson, Lifeguard - $12.20/hour; Abby Lackas, Lifeguard - $12.20/hour; Kaytlyn Hilligas, Lifeguard - $12.20/hour; Camden Wulf, Lead Groundskeeper - $13.22/hour; Andrew Daugherty, Lifeguard - $12.20/hour; Drew Kuyper, Lifeguard - $12.20/hour; Kylie Hoverson, Lifeguard - $12.20/hour; Hailey Johnke, Lifeguard - $12.20/hour; Ashlee Sweeter, Lifeguard - $12.20/hour; Callie Luke, Lifeguard - $12.20/hour; Caleb Metcalf, Groundskeeper/Lifeguard - $12.20/hour; Rianna Fillipi, Lifeguard - $12.20/hour; Ray Williams, Groundskeeper - $12.20/hour.

Also approved were Lead Medics Amy Roseland $21/hr and Christopher Mikkelesen $21/hr.

A full time police officer was also hired.

Two weeks notice was accepted from Street Department member Luis Yanez Soria.

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