|11/26/2021 2:17:00 PM|
Council ponders necessary street improvements
by LEILANI FREEMANAfter reviewing the engineer’s annual rating of Chisago City streets, the city council on Nov. 16 discussed how it could improve as many “red” streets as possible. Red streets, as shown on Engineer John Goodman’s detailed map of the city, are those in the greatest need of repair or reconstruction, for a total 2.2 miles.
High on the priority list are the east end of North Avenue, plus the deteriorated section of East Viking Boulevard, Johnson Lane, and downtown streets east of Old Towne Road. There are a few others.
On Dec. 8, city officials will meet in the meeting room at the Uncommon Loon with residents of Jonquil Dr. Two years ago, those residents had approached the city about the possibility of improving their gravel road but the Covid pandemic intervened. The road, which is currently a cart path, would need to be brought up to city standards for a gravel road in order to be maintained by the city.
In addition to 2.2 miles of red streets, more than 11 miles of Chisago City’s roads received an “orange” rating from the engineer, just one step less serious than red. The council’s challenge is to decide which streets to do first and with what source of funding.
City Administrator John Pechman reminded the council that next year’s budget contains $160,000 for road maintenance, crack-filling, sealing and micro-abrasion projects. One option, he said, would be to use the entire 2022 maintenance budget to repair “the worst part of North Avenue,” which has been delayed for several years.
If the city uses the entire maintenance budget for North Avenue, it needs to determine the best way to proceed with the rest of the projects.
“If we move ahead,” Pechman told the council. “This would mean borrowing money from an institution and paying it back as we get funds.”
The council agreed that before they can go any further, they need rough cost estimates. “We need some back-of-the-napkin estimates,” said Councilman Jeremy Dresel. “Can we chip away and, over the next three years, try to get these roads done?”
Pechman pointed out that most of the red roads need paving, but not curbing, which simplifies the work.
“These are pretty simple projects,” said Dresel.
“We’re in agreement we want to do something,” said the mayor, “It’s just a matter of how much.” More discussion will take place in the future when rough costs are known.
In other business, the council:
- certified $77,329 in delinquent water bills to the Chisago County Auditor for collection with property taxes payable in 2022. City Administrator Pechman noted that this was double the amount of delinquent bills the city has seen in the past.
Affected property owners were contacted and given an opportunity to pay the past-due bills rather than have them put on their taxes. Only residential water bills delinquent in excess of $300 or those where no payment has been received for the past four quarters are certified.
- approved annual liquor and cigarette licenses within the city. Licenses bring the following annual revenue: On-sale liquor, $2,500; Off-sale liquor, $100; Sunday liquor - $200, Wine - $500; On-sale 3.2 liquor - $250; Off-sale micro distillery - $150; On-sale taproom - $250, and cigarette - $100.
Licenses were issued as follows: cigarette — Mini Mart #8, Family Dollar, Casey’s, Lindstrom Vape, Highway 8 Tobacco, Chisago Warehouse, MGM, and Kwik Trip; liquor licenses to Chisago Warehouse, MGM, Scooters, Smitty’s, The Northern Tavern & Grill, Don Julio’s, The Stone Inn, Uncommon Loon Brewery, and Wine Haven Winery.
- officially accepted a $2,000 grant from the St. Croix Valley Community Foundation to help pay for repair of two small creek crossings in Ojiketa Regional Park. Bill Mack and the Ojiketa volunteer group known as OWLLS applied for the grant.
- tabled action on a new four-year lawn care contract with Affordable Lawn Care at a cost of $1,425 per week during the lawn mowing season. The lawn service mows all the city parks and properties except Ojiketa.
Mayor Bob Gustafson enthusiastically endorsed the renewal saying the company does a great job; however, Councilman Craig Meyer suggested the possibility of a shorter-term contract or issuing a request for proposals and he wanted to do some research.
The contract will be considered at the Council’s December meeting.
- passed a resolution designating the Chisago Lakes Area Library as the city’s official polling place in 2022.
- announced that Patrick Doran of the law firm Miller & Stevens will replace long-time city attorney Tom Miller. Miller retires Dec. 31.
- again agreed to carry over unused vacation time for four employees who would otherwise lose it at year end.
The same action was taken last year.
Many vacations were cancelled due to Covid, council heard Administrator Pechman has the most unused vacation time at 160 hours followed by three employees with unused vacation ranging from 15 to 33 hours.