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BE EDA receives funding increase

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Oct 25, 2020

Construction on Leland Parkway ground to a halt last week as cold, wet weather invaded the area. Work is scheduled to resume once the weather improves.

What to do with the remaining Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds was a major topic at last Monday night’s Blue Earth City Council meeting.

The city has dispersed much of the funding they have received, but the council learned at the meeting there was still $49,000 remaining in the fund.

After discussing a variety of possible uses for the funds, the council voted to give the money to the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority to continue to fund $1,000 grants to local businesses.

EDA specialist Amy Schaeffer reported she had $38,000 on hand from the original EDA funding, but had now received 49 more requests for the grants.

“I would like to have $11,000 more to fund all these 49 requests,” Schaeffer said. “Actually I would ask for $22,000 more as the grant application period does not end until next Monday.”

The council looked at other possible ways to spend the money, including new technology for the council chambers at City Hall, the meeting room at the Ag Center and the meeting room at the Public Safety Building.

Council members felt using the money to help out local businesses was the best use of the funds.

Mayor Rick Scholtes suggested giving the EDA all of the $49,000 now, and see how much of it will be needed to support local businesses.

“We will know by Monday how much will be left, and we can decide what to do with that amount at our next meeting, in November,” Scholtes said.

The council agreed and voted unanimously to do just that.

However, before making the decision, the council looked over several proposals for using the funds.

They had received several proposals for upgrades to the City Hall council meeting room that included ones from Bevcomm and from Midwest IT.

Allen Aukes of Midwest IT had brought an 85-inch TV to the meeting to demonstrate to the council what it would look like with a presentation on it.

His company had proposals for both using the large TV as compared to using a projector and large screen.

The cost estimate for the TV, video cameras and speakers, etc., was $7,400 for the City Hall and $8,068 for the Ag Center. The cost estimate for the projector/screen combo at the City Hall was $11,995, and for the Ag Center was $13,054.

The council also had a proposal from Bevcomm for a projector/screen set up at the City Hall for $4,403, and at the Public Safety Building for $3,987.

Also present at the meeting was Emily Davis, the Community Workforce Coordinator, with a presentation to the council proposing using CARES Act monies to continue to fund that position for the next year.

No action was taken on any of the proposals for using the CARES Act money, other than for the EDA.

“We will still have time to act on spending the remaining funds at our next meeting,” Scholtes said. “After we see how much is left after the EDA business grants are made.”

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

• Heard an update from city engineer Wes Brown that included information on Leland Parkway.

The project is not yet complete and is waiting for the wear course (second lift of asphalt) which will be done when the weather improves. It will not open to public traffic until that is completed, the engineer said.

Brown also said a temporary walkway will be put in on Leland to Blue Ridge Apartments. It will be packed gravel and will be replaced with concrete next year as part of the Safe Routes to Schools project.

The temporary walkway will add $5,400 to the overall cost of the project.

• Also saw preliminary designs for next year’s 10th and Nicollet Streets Project. One plan showed the center median island replaced, and the other had it removed.

Brown said the Street Committee’s recommendation was to remove it. The cost to replace it would add an estimated $80,000 to the cost of the project, Brown said.

No action was taken by the council.

• Agreed to a new three year recycling contract with B&B Sanitation which would include an increase of five percent, going from $4.35 per bin to $4.56, as of Nov. 1.

• Agreed to an increase in the Blue Earth Fire Department Relief Association’s benefit level from $2,425 to $2,500 per year of service.

• Had a second reading of a land transfer ordinance and then passed the ordinance which involves the sale of two lots in the Prairie View Subdivision to APX Construction of Mankato.

• Voted to buy out the housing rental lease in Fairmont of city administrator Mary Kennedy so that she can move to Blue Earth. The cost of the buyout is $1,800.