January 24, 2019 Committee-of-the-Whole Meeting Minutes





1:30 P.M., Thursday, January 24, 2019

CALL TO ORDER: A meeting of the Committee-of-the-Whole of the City Council of the City of International Falls, Minnesota was held and called to order by Mayor Anderson in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 600 Fourth Street, International Falls, Minnesota, on the 24th day of January 2019 at the hour of 1:38 P.M.


MEMBERS PRESENT: Mayor Anderson and Councilors Droba, Ditsch, and Krause.


MEMBERS ABSENT: Councilor Buller.


OTHERS PRESENT: Cynthia Jaksa, Joe Schwartz, Zack Scofield, Sammy Butts, Miranda Sears, Tanner Bombenger, Nicole Maish, Jared Baldwin, Ben Mortenson, Adam Mannausau, and Ken Anderson.


Review Mike Metro Phase Two Report on the Fire/Rescue/EMS Department Assessment dated December 2018 and consider recommendations: Mayor Anderson recognized the City Administrator. Ken Anderson provided a brief overview of the purpose of the meeting, process of HR Committee discussions with staff after the conclusion of collective bargaining over a year ago, and discussed the purpose of the Phase Two report. He highlighted the need for changes in the Ambulance personnel work schedule to comply with the FLSA, payroll processing issues, consultant recommendation for hiring full-time EMTs, vehicle needs, and emphasized the deficit spending in the Ambulance Fund and recent revenue increase approved by the City Council to offset some of the mounting deficit spending. Chief Mannausau and former West Ward Councilor Cynthia Jaksa offered their insight to the upcoming discussion.


Zack Scofield, Paramedic and paid on call Firefighter, was recognized by the Mayor. He outlined the proposal offered by the Paramedics for their conversion to a new Firefighter/Paramedic position. This conversion would allow for the work schedule to remain unchanged and maintain a 12-hour rotating shift of working four days on and four days off. He also outlined the benefits to the affected departments as well as the obstacles to be overcome. They also would like to maintain the trial work schedule on a permanent basis which involves the additional 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. crew to supplement the rotation of crews working from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.


At the conclusion of the presentation at 2:25 p.m., discussion ensued about operational issues, lack of input from Firefighter Engineers and EMTs, transition and training period for the conversion, cost impacts, and obstacles to implementation. Chief Mannausau questioned how the Civil Service Commission would impact approval of this process, how positions in new job classifications may have to be open to the public, concerns on the Firefighter Engineer side, and stated he would need to do more homework on the issues. There were also concerns about how we address past noncompliance with the 40-hour work week maximum for Ambulance personnel without having to pay overtime versus the 48-hour plus workweek allowed for Fire personnel. Call-ins were discussed as an option to minimize overtime. Call volume and time of day for calls were also discussed. Shift and staffing comparisons were made with the city of Virginia and Hibbing Fire/Ambulance services. Councilor Ditsch stated he hopes the Paramedic concerns are taken into consideration and stated he liked the proposal. He hopes we can meet the Paramedic needs and keep both sides happy.


Mayor Anderson stated we have a valued service and said we need to examine how to make it work. He requested the Chief prepare a list of questions such as how the Civil Service Commission oversight fits and anything else that needs to be addressed to come to a resolution.

Update on Sale of 1982 Fire Department Ladder Truck: Chief Mannausau reported that the City of Littlefork City Council rejected the offer to purchase this vehicle. He suggested that the vehicle was in good shape and should not be sold to be dismissed from Fire Service. He thinks it is beneficial to keep the vehicle. He said we may get credit for an additional pumper to potentially improve our ISO rating. He noted we have two trailers stored outdoors, but hopes to decommission one soon (Councilor Ditsch left the meeting at 3:14 p.m.). By keeping the 1982 Ladder Truck, we can still assist PCA in cleaning their clarifiers and generate some revenue to offset our annual test expenses. The Committee agreed to hold the 1982 Ladder Truck until June 2019 and revisit whether we should keep the truck.


Update on Status of Highway 53 Reconstruction Project: The Committee discussed their availability to meet with the MnDOT Project Manager to get an update on the project design, timing, and Municipal Consent process. He is available February 27 and 28th. The Committee noted that February 20 – 22 and March 6 and 7th were not good dates and that Councilor Ditsch would be out of state the last week of February for two weeks. The City Administrator was directed to check on available dates for Leon Ditsch and Curt Meyer, City Consulting Engineer. The March 18, 2019 meeting was identified as the target date to consider the Municipal Consent options for the project and set a public hearing which must be held within 60 days of receiving the MnDOT letter.


Other business: Councilor Droba discussed his interest in developing a Strategic Action Plan that will identify what we intend to do this year and next year and study how it will impact the 2020 budget. With two new councilors, he asked what are the Council priorities for this year and what do we need to focus on? He would like the Council to meet and participate with department heads on setting goals and timelines in such areas as, for example, creating tougher property standards, annexation, Housing Study, creating a registry of rental licenses and vacant properties, etc. The Mayor concurred provided the goals/priorities were limited to five items.


ADJOURNMENT: The Mayor adjourned the
Committee meeting at 3:50 P.M.




Minutes respectfully prepared by Kenneth R. Anderson, City Administrator

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