BE Council gives OK to 2018 project
After answering questions from more than two dozen citizens at a public hearing last Monday, the Blue Earth City Council voted to go ahead with getting plans and specs for an estimated $1.71 million street project for next year.
The project is broken into two parts and affects two areas north and south of 14th Street.
Area 1 includes Moore Street between 12th and 14th streets, and 13th Street between Main and Ramsey streets.
This project includes full reconstruction of the street surface and replacement of most underground utility lines.
Estimated cost of this portion is $1.084 million.
Area 2 covers 15th, Moore and Galbraith streets, south of 14th Street and north of Circle Drive.
This project includes trenchless utility replacement and a mill and overlay surface. The projected cost is at $625,856.
After the hearing was over and the council reconvened their regular meeting, they voted to proceed with getting the plans and specs, but to treat the two pieces of the overall project as two separate projects.
The vote was unanimous.
At the public hearing on the proposed street project, residents of the affected area received a list of all the properties and what the estimated assessments to each property owner would be.
They also heard a complete report from Wes Brown, the city engineer from Bolton and Menk.
They also had the opportunity to ask questions, and many of them did. The questions ranged from removal of trees, to access to water and driveways during construction.
Other questions involved sidewalks, replacement of grass and breakdown of costs.
The schedule is for bid-letting in the spring, construction through the summer, with completion in the fall.
The council will still have a vote on whether to proceed with the project, including whether to go with just one or both areas, when they receive the bids.
In other business at last Monday’s regular meeting, the council:
The council went through the proposed 2018 budget, with the focus on what areas could be trimmed.
Currently the budget is balanced, but it would include a property tax levy increase of five percent.
City administrator Tim Ibisch went through the budget, listing several areas that had been discussed in the past several meetings.
One thing he pointed out was the line item for $20,000 of improvements to the Blue Earth Municipal Pool.
If those improvements were funded by transferring liquor store fund profits to the pool fund, then the levy increase would be lowered from its current five percent level down to 3.5 percent, which is the target amount the council is aiming for, Ibisch pointed out.
Another area Ibisch mentioned again and clarified was the donation to the Firemens’ Relief Association. Ibisch reiterated the process for funding the fire relief association pension plan. He noted that there are three sources of funding; money the relief association fund raises itself with events, money the city receives from the State of Minnesota which is transmitted directly to the association and the voluntary donation of $12,000 per year by the city. The $12,000 is the only local taxpayer money that is given to the association.
After Ibisch’s explanation, several council members said they felt it was important to keep that $12,000 in the budget for next year.
No official action was taken by the council on the budget, however, as they will vote on it in December after the Truth In Taxation Hearing.
Heard a request for funding from the Faribault County Historical Society chairman, Bill Paul.
The society was requesting city funding for cost of utilities at the society’s buildings, for the past 14 months, at a total of $4,559.04, plus a donation of $600 which the city has made in past years.
However, after discussion later in the meeting, the council voted to cover approximately 12 months of utilities, using the amount of $3,500 which was in this year’s budget.
The council did not make the extra $600 donation for this year, although they did discuss increasing the budgeted amount in the 2018 budget.
Went into closed session to discuss any employee discipline action regarding a complaint against wastewater treatment plant employee Steve Anderson.
The council took no action after coming out of the closed session.
Signed the recycling contract with B&B Sanitation and Recycling of Winnebago, and issued them a recycling permit.
The council had previously accepted the recycling bid/proposal from B&B for the city of Blue Earth.
Accepted a proposal for the 2017 audit, which will be conducted next year.
The city had received four proposals from different audit companies, and accepted the one from Clifton Allen Larson.
Their bid/proposal was for $15,700 and was the lowest bid. The other three ranged as high as $27,000.
Passed a resolution to support an application to the Local Road Funding grant for possibly repairing an area of Rice and 17th streets, near St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center and Wilson Field.
The city has previously been awarded a grant from the fund which was used to fix 21st Street on the south edge of the city.
Blue Earth could receive up to $750,000 in grant funds, however the over project is expected to cost $1.2 million, so if the city does get the grant it would be short and local funds would have to be used.