On Monday, Jan. 25, the regularly scheduled Nokomis City Council meeting was called to order by Mayor Mike Holliday. Council members present included Holliday, Commissioners Louis Stauder, Derek Durbin and Jocko Nash, along with City Clerk Rachel Hill. Commissioner Ann Brookshire was absent. In addition to live guests, a Zoom internet connection was also provided for visitors who wished to maintain social distancing.
Business owner Scott Robinson addressed the council regarding receiving city support in moving the water line to his building on South Spruce Street. Although he had previously sent a written request in the form of a letter, Robinson explained a new meter had been installed 18 months earlier, but not in the spot of the previous meter. As such, the line that comes into the building does not go to the right location. To move the line appears to involve cutting the sidewalk and dealing with a storm drain. Robinson was looking for assistance from the city in cutting sidewalk, prepare the trench, and then replace the sidewalk. He said he knew, as the property owner, he would have some expense, but was curious what assistance the city would be willing to provide.
Durbin explained that the existing ordinance states that anything from the meter to the property is the owner’s responsibility. He went on to say that if they acted counter to the ordinance in this instance, it would set a precedent that opened the city up to requests and claims from everyone seeking similar assistance. Durbin said that the street department had asked about the situation at the time the concrete was put in and Robinson had declined at that time because they were not ready.
Durbin then asked if Robinson had applied for a business grant, which could help offset some of the costs. Robinson said he had already applied for a business grant for the facade work at the building, and in addition to the business grant, he had been told there was another grant to assist with plumbing. After Nash asked if he was asking about the $1,000 COVID grant, Durbin explained the city offered three business grants other than the COVID grant. Nash thought the water main replacement might come into play in helping with the problem, but Stauder thought the project would not cover the property in question.
Nash then explained the grant he thought Robinson was talking about was not available at this time pending a rewrite of the grant, and nothing was being approved at this time. He said they would keep Robinson’s current grant application and they could revisit it once the grant was rewritten. Nash and Durbin again both politely declined the request for assistance fearing they would “open a can of worms” if they helped in this instance. They both encouraged him to continue to pursue the grants, as they were a legitimate way the city could help with some deferment of the costs. Nash also complimented Robinson saying what he had done thus far with the building “looks great.”
Later, Nash called police Chief William Kenny forward to receive a donation from Kyra Scoles. She explained she had done a fundraiser through her printing and screening business, Kyra’s Kreations, where she sold 56 shirts, donating $7 per shirt toward the purchase of body cams required by recently passed state legislation. The effort raised $392, which she rounded up to the $400 donation check she presented to Chief Kenny at the meeting. Gold said she wanted to say “thank you, and you are appreciated more than you are probably told.”
Mayor Holliday introduced initial discussion on a vacant property ordinance and asked city attorney Chris Sherer for some input to the question. The current ordinance requires a permit be obtained every six months for up to two years.
“I think two years is too long,” stated the mayor. The council agreed that action with vacant properties needed to occur quicker than two years.
Sherer said he had just begun to research the existing ordinance and needed more time to follow up on it. He also made a preliminary suggestion that they model the existing ordinance Hillsboro had developed and adapt it to the needs of Nokomis. He said he would also work on that exercise.
Holliday concluded the brief discussion, telling Sherer to “put something together and present it to us at the next meeting or so.”
Nash made a motion to approve Ordinance #2037, which established installing stop signs at Herman and Edwards streets. Stauder seconded the motion and it passed on a unanimous vote of the members present.
Nash presented a building permit application for 603 School Street involving a garage, swimming pool, and fence. In addition to the permit, the owner asked if an ash tree on city property that would obstruct the garage could be removed at the property owner’s expense. The owner had reported to Nash that the tree was infected with emerald ash borer. Durbin said he had inspected the old tree, but it was difficult to tell the extent of damage in the winter. Nash made a motion to approve the permit and allow removal of the tree. Durbin seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.
Stauder reported monthly revenues of $86,808.06 and made a motion to approve payment of bills in the amount of $36,419.15. The motion was passed unanimously after a second by Durbin.
Stauder then provided a brief update on the water main project, stating they were looking into what easements would be needed and that surveys would be sent to the affected property owners in an attempt to find out how many lead lines they were dealing with. He also added they might be looking at grants to help with the replacement of lead lines.
Stauder made a motion to approve the letter of appointment for Trevor Loafman as the city representative to the Nokomis-Witt ambulance board. He explained the city got one representative on the board and if no resident was interested, the board could appoint a non-resident. Nash seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
Stauder made a motion to approve the COVID-19 grants for eight city business. In addition to the first ten businesses that had already been approved, this meant 18 of 32 eligible businesses had been awarded the grant. Commenting on what they thought was a low participation rate in the applications, Nash said, “Well, we can’t make them do it.” Nash then seconded the motion and it passed by a unanimous vote.
Durbin informed the board that St. Louis Catholic Church had approached him regarding fish fry events they were hoping to hold every Friday night during Lent. The events would involve drive-through set-up on the alley at the property and church members had asked Durbin if it would be a problem and if the city might set up some barricades during the fish fries to help with traffic flow. The council agreed that they saw no problem with the events at this time.
Durbin made a motion for the council to enter executive session at 7:34 p.m. to discuss city employment issues. The motion was seconded by Nash and approved.
The council reentered regular session at 7:38 p.m. on a motion by Nash and Durbin and made a motion to hire Jason Beeson as a part-time officer for the Nokomis police department effective immediately. Nash seconded the motion and it passed unanimously on a roll call vote.
Nash made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 7:40, seconded by Durbin, which passed.