homepage logo

BE sets costs of projects

Wraps up Sailor, Leland street assessments

By Fiona Edberg - Staff Writer | Aug 22, 2021

Blue Earth has seen an abundance of construction spring up around town throughout the summer. However, on Monday, Aug. 16, at 5 p.m., the Blue Earth City Council took steps toward bringing two of its previous projects to a close.

Final assessment hearings were held for the Sailor Street improvement project and the Leland Parkway improvement project.

The resolution to adopt the final assessments explained, “Each tract of land is hereby found to be benefitted by the proposed improvement in the amount of the assessment levied against it.”

Several community members whose properties border the improved streets were present at the meeting.

City engineer Wes Brown conducted a short presentation to further outline the origin of the decided-upon assessment for both the council and members of the public.

The total project costs for the Sailor Street project, Brown shared, were $2,590,861, with assessment funding coming to $583,444.96.

The Leland Parkway project, meanwhile, came to a total cost of $3,575,000 with assessment funding at $304,764.84.

“There is a right for property owners to appeal,” Brown said. “If so, the council must receive a written objection.”

Brown also shared how an individual may qualify for assessment deferment. “You can qualify if you are over 65 years old, or in active military service,” Brown explained in his presentation. “You must apply within 90 days of the hearing tonight.”

Brown further explained interest will be accrued on the assessment during the deferment period.

Apart from rare instances of appeal or deferment, assessments will be paid by residents through property taxation, in installments over a 15-year period. The interest rate for the assessments of both projects is set at 3.123 percent.

Brown explained assessment payments may be paid in full by December, with no interest.

He added, “At any point in time, you can pay the remaining portion of that amount with no penalties.”

The council also conducted a second reading of the ordinance to amend the regulation of special vehicles in Blue Earth.

The council discussed the requirement for head lamps and trail lamps listed on the draft of the ATV/Golf Cart permit application.

Mayor Rick Scholtes suggested removing the requirement from the permit application. He reasoned it is unnecessary to require lights on special vehicles when the ordinance stipulates such vehicles can only be operated from sunrise to sunset.

“To me, it seems contradictory,” Scholtes explained. “If you can’t drive after dark, why do you need headlights?”

City attorney David Frundt suggested, “Instead of saying sunrise to sunset, we can say specific times.”

After some discussion, the council decided to specify approved operating times for special vehicles from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., and to require lights after darkness falls.

The council also briefly addressed some community complaints regarding the new ordinance. Several community members argue it is golf carts, rather than all special vehicles, which are causing issues around Blue Earth.

Scholtes explained the legislation originates at the state level, and as the state legislation references all special vehicles, to enforce the ordinance the city must police all such vehicles accordingly.

“The way the state statutes are written, we could ban them (special vehicles) entirely,” admits Scholtes. “Unfortunately, there are a few bad eggs who have ruined it for everyone else. It’s a safety thing.”

Other business discussed by the council on Monday night included: 

• Preliminary budget discussions at a work session held prior to the regularly scheduled meeting, at 4:30 p.m.

City administrator Mary Kennedy stated the proposed budget will be prepared by Sept. 20, with a Truth and Taxation hearing on Dec. 6 and a final levy decided upon by Dec. 20.

She shared there is an increase in local government aid (LGA) certified for next year. The city will receive a total of $2,066,662 in LGA.

Kennedy also reported the city has already received half of its funds from the American Rescue Plan. Blue Earth has been allocated a total of $328,879.30, the rest of which will be received no earlier than July, 2022.

• The introduction of the Street Improvement Program for 2021-2025. The total cost for the program will be $15,070,500.

Brown explained the first step will be to initiate a feasibility study, after which Bolton and Menk will return with any recommended changes to the projects and an estimated cost.

• The draft of a Street Watering Program Policy, the purpose of which is to encourage residents to water newly-placed seed and sod. The city plans to reduce water usage costs for residents who agree to keep their lawns watered throughout the hot summer months.

The draft included a letter which will be sent out to residents to encourage them to participate. The council suggested offering compensation to residents who agree to water their lawns between May and October.

• A new column which the city hopes to start in The Faribault County Register. Kennedy pitched the concept of a monthly column which will feature a different city department each month. The council decided to kick off the column in January of next year.