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More funding for BE street projects

By Staff | Jun 9, 2019

The Blue Earth City Council’s plan to do a major street reconstruction project could get a big boost with a new plan to add money from the new city sales tax.

The city of Blue Earth may be using the proceeds of a new city sales tax to accelerate the number of street reconstruction projects done each year.

At last Monday night’s meeting, the City Council discussed the possibility of using up to $1 million per project for a total of $5 million over the next few years.

“Right now we are doing about $2 million per year on our street reconstruction projects,” mayor Rick Scholtes said. “If we add $1 million to the total we could start doing two projects in one year starting in 2021.”

Voters in the city gave the go-ahead to having a half cent sales tax in Blue Earth. The city then had to make application to the state to do the tax, which was authorized just this past legislative session and was recently signed by the governor.

“The state wants us to narrow down exactly where this sales tax money will be used,” city administrator Tim Ibisch said. “So we need to dedicate the funds to specific projects.”

Ibisch added this needs to be done quickly, if the city is going to start collecting the city tax in the third quarter of the year.

“I think this is the best use of the money,” Scholtes told the council. “I think we could then do the project we have planned for 2021 and the one for 2022 both in 2021. We could do six projects in the next three years and make a big impact.”

The council agreed and decided to put the plan into the form of a resolution for the next meeting.

In other business at the meeting, the council:

Passed a motion to allow a temporary event liquor permit to be issued to the Blue Earth Community Foundation, acting as an agent for the Project 3 Sisters group.

The permit would allow events to be held in the Three Sisters buildings in downtown Blue Earth to have liquor. The Project 3 Sisters owns the buildings but has not been in existence long enough to apply for the liquor permit, so it was done through the foundation, Ibisch explained.

Passed a land transfer ordinance for the sale of a city-owned lot at the corner of Seventh and Main to a private business.

Heard a report from city engineer Wes Brown of Bolton and Menk on the various projects in the city.

Included was an update on the joint powers project with Faribault County to repave streets in the West Industrial Park. Brown said the county has adjusted the city’s share of the cost and it is now at $55,288, just under the preliminary estimates for the work.

Discussed putting up so-called ‘jake brake’ signs that would warn truckers and others of a noise ordinance when they slow down in the city limits.

Once again discussed a house that is in bad shape in the Upper Valley Drive neighborhood.

Ibisch reported the house has now been inspected and the roof has failed among other problems.

The city will try to work with current owners which is a bank and the federal HUD program to get the structure demolished.

Discussed the Blue Earth Wine and Spirits municipal liquor store during a work session before the regular meeting.

The council discussed whether to hire another full time employee to fill Dave Olson’s position, now that he has become manager, or go with two part-time employees. The council decided to go with part-time.