There was only one quote received for paving the city street area in front of the fire hall (Burnes Avenue) for the Center City Council to review last week, and due to exceeding the estimated cost the project is delayed.
Council, with member Madonna Higgins absent, discussed at length where the city could find any extra money. Discussion broached the possibility of taking out debt to attack needed street work-- before deciding to delay awarding the project for a month at least. Contractor Don Bluhm will be asked if he can hold his price quote at $63,947 until council looks into financing. (The city had hoped for a quote closer to $50,000.)
Mayor Mark Wolcott said the city at one time had a reasonably successful approach addressing bituminous maintenence, doing a few blocks every couple years...until the very costly County Road 9 rebuild and Business Park infrastructure improvements. Wolcott suggested the city needs a plan to review road conditions, prioritize road repairs and maintenance, and that having a plan might give direction on the level of borrowing to support a comprehensive street work schedule.
The quote will remain for now. Owners of the buildings along the northeast side of the project area (Al’s and Dept. of Corrections /Silver Shears) will be asked if they want to participate financially and have their gravel parking lots paved as well. The asphalt per-ton cost quote would be extended to them.
In another fiscally-related matter, the Hazelden Betty Ford organization is re-financing conduit bonding that Center City backed in 2011. The city attaches its name to the bonds making them tax exempt and acts as a conduit for the flow of money. The funding originally covered work done at the Hazelden campus in Plymouth, MN.
Julie Eddington, consulting bond attorney for Hazelden, explained the city is not being asked to extend the maturity date, only to allow Hazelden Betty Ford to refinance for better interest rates. There is no need for a public hearing for this type of re-funding, she added. This issuance at $18 million doesn’t impact the city’s indebtedness maximums under state law. It is not an obligation of the city taxpayers.
Action by council on the conduit bond will be on the June council meeting agenda. Eddington got the okay to continue to pursue the refinancing paperwork.
~ Clerk-Treasurer Terrie Trudeau submitted her resignation, which was accepted with deep regret by council. She said she has been working with a newly- hired part time clerk and he will be in a position to takeover her duties when she leaves May 22.
~ Maintenance department staffer and returning seasonal worker Jodi Maxer’s wage was increased and set at $16 an hour. Council member Scott Anderson voted no.
~ The county ARMER interim 2019 contract was signed on a 4-0 vote.
Wolcott and Lloyd Vetter from the council and fire department reps Jim Marxer and Travis Greene; will serve on a committee involved in future negotiations on wording for a permanent contract.
The interim terms merely pick-up where the original five year contract expired at. It allows for users to be on the statewide secure system and it spells out some basic operations rules. A longer term contract would have to be approved by the member cities and fire and police in Chisago County and would go into effect for 2020.
Fire Hall update Marxer has been providing construction management and doing some work on the fire hall improvements. He also reported the addition and rebuild have a few weeks left to complete, and the building might not be ready for use for Center City Days this mid-summer.
Center City borrowed $566,000 for the project. The debt service is to come from fire department charitable gambling proceeds.
The project originally had an October 2018 Fire Prevention Week completion deadline which was pushed into 2019. The city firefighters and friends and family have volunteered multiple skills and materials to keep the costs in line, Marxer explained. He guessed contributed in-kind help has saved about $30,000.
The project has encountered delays with wrong-sized roof trusses, electrical change orders, a flooring agreement that dissolved, and a few items will remain un-done, such as the firefighters’ exercise room, kitchen cabinets and historic display room finishings. Council was advised there will probably be fundraisers to get these over the hump. The final costs will come in close to $556,000, which is under budget. Mayor Wolcott quipped that public spending goals “are always to be under-budget and on time,” at least the fire hall hit one of those.
Council tabled its agenda item on firefighter PERA (public employee retirement) contributions. The data in the report from the state was questioned and will be verified for next month. Any adjustment isn’t required until 2020 so action is not needed immediately.