St. Cloud City Council Meeting Recap for 2/25/21


Meeting starts with Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call.

All Council Members are present.

Meeting starts with a presentation from the Sister City program, presented by Dirk Webb and Sasha Love Higgins from the Chamber of Commerce, as well as Bill Marshall from Frankfurt, Kentucky.

Mr. Marshall went on to explain how the Sister City International program can benefit the City through partnerships for the citizens and the City.

They asked that the City form a Sister City commission.

All Council Members agreed this would be worth looking into, though Deputy Mayor Trace stated he thought the City was already involved in the program. Council Member Matheny said the same.

City Manager Bill Sturgeon clarified that this was for the International program.

Following this was the Citizen’s Forum.

Citizen Sharon Lowen came to speak before the Council. Once she approached the podium, Mayor Blackwell told Ms. Lowen that what she wanted to address was on the agenda and she would be allowed to speak later.

Another citizen, Maria Perraza, asked the Council how much the Sister City program would cost the City, and Mr. Sturgeon stated it would cost $600 annually.

Next was the Consent Agenda.

Council Member Askew said he would like to pull Item J for discussion.( Item to amend the procurement policy)

Council Member Cooper asked that Item E be pulled. ( A utilities easement for construction on the massive development Tohoqua)

Council Member Matheny asked for Item C, (Florida Avenue Multi-use Trail), but stated that she thought some other would be pulled, at which time Mr. Sturgeon said Items B and I would be pulled. (Chisholm Park and groundwater clean up of the closed power plant on Missouri Ave, respectively)

On Item C (Florida Avenue), Council Member Matheny was unhappy there was no presentation for the Master Plan, and said she does not support this item.

After some discussion, Mr. Sturgeon said he was willing to pull this item for further discussion and Council Member input.

On Item E, (Tohoqua construction easement) Council Member Cooper requested a separate vote.

Environmental Utilities Director Marjorie Craig came to the podium to explain the easement, after which the vote was held.
Council voted 4-1 in favor, with Council Member Cooper voting “No”.

For Item J, ( Procurement policy giving the City Manager authority to approve budgeted items over $50k), Council Member Askew stated that he would just like it if Council was notified when this occurred.

At this time, citizen Sharon Lowen approached the podium again. She stated this was her first time coming to a meeting and wasn’t sure how to speak to the individual items, but said she had a serious plea.

She stated as a citizen, she does not feel safe with the water she is paying for.

She stated they had done some ice pigging on her street, and that OUC left a flyer reminding customers to clean out their water heaters.

She said that her water heater was 18 mos. old, but did it anyway.

She said she was appalled at what she saw coming out of it.

She said she is not the only one that feels this way, just look on social media.

She said she wants safe water and wants to feel safe using the water she pays for and wants proof.

Ms. Lowen received applause from some in the audience and Council Member Cooper.

At this time, City Manager Bill Sturgeon said that they inherited a mess and that there are people telling lies on social media about the water and it is not helpful, and asked Environmental Utilities Director Marjorie Craig to come back to the podium.

Ms. Craig defended her work with the water system, stated that she lives in St. Cloud and uses the water and asked that every citizen that has an issue reach out to her and her team, and that they will continue to work hard.

Council Member Cooper asked why the City did not buy the ice pigging machine, to which Ms. Craig said it was not cost effective, and that the larger pipes require ice swabbing, not ice pigging.

Other Council Members chimed in wanting follow up and thanking Ms. Craig for her efforts towards the water issue, including Mayor Blackwell, stating they are committed to safe water and that they all use and drink the water.

The rest of the Consent Agenda was voted for in favor by all Council Members.

For the Public Hearings portion, only one Public Hearing tonight.

Ordinance 2021-09 is an ordinance of the City of St. Cloud, amending the City’s Police Officer and Firefighter retirement system; amending section 1, providing for codification; providing for severability of provisions; repealing all ordinances in conflict here with and providing an effective date.

Police Officers with service earned after July 1, 2011 and Firefighter members with service earned after April 25, 2013 should not include more than 300 hours of overtime per calendar year as their compensable salary earned towards the pension.

It has been discovered that overtime hours over 300 have not been monitored. Employee and City contributions were being made on all hours worked. As the plan cannot provide in-service distributions, a pre-paid credit will be given to the employees affected. The State has authorized approval to reset the overtime limitation to October 1, 201

About 50 employees would receive the credit.

All Council Members vote in favor, 5-0

For the Council Action portion, the Council made appointments to boards and committees with vacancies and expiring terms for the Economic Development Advisory Committee, Finance Committee, Historic Preservation Board, Planning Commission, Recreation Advisory Committee, Tree Advisory Committee, and Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The next Council Meeting will be March 11, 2021 at 6:30pm at the St. Cloud Community Center.


About Author

Former writer for Osceola News Gazette, current Admin of Save Saint Cloud, Keep Osceola Beautiful, and moderator for Osceola Politics Facebook pages, current Saint Cloud Economic Development Advisory Committee member, current member of the Osceola School Board School Safety Advisory Group, and current candidate for St. Cloud City Council Seat 4.

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