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Sod watering issues plaguing BE City Council

By Staff | Oct 21, 2012

The Blue Earth City Council is not very happy with the results of sod being laid on the boulevards of recent street projects.

Last Monday, members of the council vented again on the subject at their regular meeting.

A proposal was presented to allow homeowners in the project areas to get a break on the sewer portion of their utility bill.

Currently, homeowners pay a sewer usage bill that is related to the amount of water that they use. The proposal before the council was to forgive any extra sewer charges that would be related to a homeowner using water to try and save the new boulevard sod in front of their home.

After all, the council reasons, that water is not going down the sewer system, but into the ground.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey suggested taking an average of the bills from April and May and using that figure as average usage.

Councilman Rick Scholtes disagreed.

“The new sod needs to be watered now, and it will probably need to be watered in April and May,” he says. “I think we can just use last summer’s bill as an average.”

Scholtes says the new sod laid on the Gorman and 12th street project area is already striped.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord agreed.

“I checked it out and lifted it up,” he says. “The roots were bone dry and the ground underneath was powder dry. They (the comut any water down. They needed to water the dirt before laying the sod.”

The city engineer agreed, saying the contractor had been notified. He also said the company is under contract to water the sod for the first 30 days after that.

A letter will be sent to the homeowners informing them that they need to keep watering the sod, should not mow it this year, and should not fertilize it.

“We need to encourage people to water this sod,” Gaylord says. “By June of next year it will be too late.”

Scholtes agrees.

“Last winter was dry, this summer was dry, who knows what will happen we could have a dry winter and a dry spring,” he says.

Scholtes wants homeowners to get a full credit on the sewer bill for 12 months.

Councilman John Gartzke had another suggestion that the city invest in a tanker truck and keep the sod watered themselves.

That, said other council members might be a good idea, but would involve the purchase of the tanker and possibly hiring another employee.

In other business at Monday’s meeting, the council:

Received some good news on renting out airport land for farming.

There were three bids for renting the land for next year and the biggest bid was from Meyer/Smith for $64,734.96 ($411.57 per acre). The council accepted the bid.

This current year the land is being rented by Ron Aukes at a rate of $47,552.34. His bid for this year was $56,156.10 ($357 per acre).

The land rent is used in the airport budget each year, along with the rent from the plane hangars.

Discussed the capital improvement plan (CIP) at length at a work session before the meeting.

The council spent most of the time studying the costs involved in the new industrial park.

The city’s share of the project will be $1.517 million, should they decide to proceed.

Included in the project is a manufacturing incubator building, at a cost of $1.1 million.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey, Linsey Warmka of Faribault County Economic Development and Doug Green of Springsted Financial all updated the council on the various cost aspects of the project.

They pointed out that a $100,000 home in Blue Earth could see city property taxes at $846 in 2013, $887 in 2014 and up to $913 in 2015 under one scenario of paying for the industrial park.

Another scenario sees taxes rise to $1061 in 2015, but then decrease after 2016.

Green says the model for the CIP plan which could include the industrial park development plan is full of assumptions.

“The only thing we really know is our existing debt,” he says.

Gaylord questioned if the city was stretching itself too thin, especially after hearing from Warmka that the plan was to have the Economic Development Authority add $200,000 to the industrial park project costs.

Scholtes suggested stretching out the payments on the incubator building over 25 years, to lower that annual cost, helping to lower taxes.

Green says the payment could be lowered from $130,000 per year to $95,000 by doing that.

Heard a report from City Attorney David Frundt that a hearing has been set for Nov. 19 for action on the Avalon Building.

However, he says, the owner is interested in giving the building to the city, outright, as soon as possible, so a court hearing may not be necessary.