June 10, 2010 at 8:47 a.m.

Center City Council clears way for radio tower east of town someday; water meter issues continue to vex staff

Center City Council clears way for radio tower east of town someday; water meter issues continue to vex staff
Center City Council clears way for radio tower east of town someday; water meter issues continue to vex staff

A brief EDA meeting preceded Center City's monthly meeting last Tuesday. The EDA members unanimously approved a $500 donation to the Center City Days community event, scheduled for the weekend of June 25.

City Clerk Terrie Trudeau noted that the revolving loan fund from the Small Cities Grant has been replenished (previous loans for business improvements have been paid off on schedule) and there is again $25,000 available to Center City businesses to borrow at a low interest rate, for the purpose of structure improvement.

Sheriff Rivard was present to witness the council's (Council member Will Pennings absent) first action of the evening. The council unanimously approved an ordinance allowing the installation of a communication tower at the county jail site for the 800 MHz Radio Upgrade Project. Rivard thanked the council for its support of the measure, and then spoke briefly to update the council and audience on the direction Chisago County is taking to comply with the state public safety mandate and the proposed communications center.

The state deadline for the radio upgrade is January 1, 2013, but Rivard's goal is to have the system running by July 2012 to assure full compliance by the January deadline, he said. One of the reasons Rivard separated the radio upgrade and communication center projects, he explained, was to assure that Chisago County meets the 800 MHz deadline. Rivard briefed the council on the options the Chisago County Board is considering for the communications center.

In other city business, the council reviewed four bids for the city hall reroofing project that were opened last Friday. When City Engineer Les Mateffy reported that none of the contractors recommended or would give a warranty on the specifications for the temporary fix of pulling the nails and replacing them with rubber grommets and screws, the council considered only the complete reroof bids. The bids ranged from $23,355 to $50,000. The council awarded the bid to Second Generation Builders, Lindstrom for $23,500 which, although not the lowest bid, included fascia, as requested on the spec sheet provided to potential bidders by the city engineer. Most of Center City's government and fire headquarters have the original roofing that is 30 years old. The replacement will be paid for from the capital improvement fund.

The council addressed six water and sewer issues Tuesday evening.

There were three bids to consider for two lift station upgrades. The bids for the purchase of two standby generators ranged from $57,000 to $64,000, and the purchase will be paid out of the County Business Park construction budget. The approval to hire a local contractor for this project ended up being two motions. The council unanimously awarded the $56,980 bid to a local contractor, Sogard Electric, during a discussion of the differences between and the importance of, requiring a bid bond and/or a performance and payment bond. Sogard had not priced a bid bond into his proposal, explaining to the city engineer that it was not necessary, since he has installed lift stations and done electrical projects for the city previously.

Council member Madonna Higgins' second motion, also unanimously approved, was that Sogard provide a bid bond not to exceed the runner-up's bid, or if he does not, the bid will go to Killmer Electric, located in Minneapolis.

A long-standing water bill was amicably resolved between the city and the resident at 520 Park Island. After a brief summary of the numerical facts by the city clerk, and a shorter discussion of possible meter reading errors among the council members, Mark Wolcott made a motion to reduce the outstanding bill owed by Sharon Helgestad (from $600) to $200. Since the discrepancy of unbilled water usage accrued over four years, Wolcott's motion included the option for Helgestad to pay it off in 16 quarters.

The council learned that six of the 288 radio read meters that were installed earlier this year are running backwards. While the meters read accurately, they count down, instead of up. The malfunctioning meters were packed in the same case and installed in the same neighborhood. The installation company will correct these meters at the homeowners' convenience. Helgestad has one of the meters that is running backwards.

The council scheduled a Planning Commission meeting for June 21 to begin work on ordinances that will address equitable metering for multiple resident parcels.

Debra and Mark Larson attended the meeting to follow up on a letter they wrote to the city regarding their purchase of an external irrigation meter several years ago. They purchased it from the city in good faith that they would be able to use it to deduct irrigation water usage from their sewer bill and assumed that the $70 investment would pay for itself over a period of years. In addition to watering their lawn and flowers, the Larson's care for a flower garden at the Methodist Cemetery. They have used the irrigation meter for three seasons, however, irrigation meters are no longer allowed and irrigation water cannot be deducted from sewer gallonage under the new radio read system.

The Larsons asked the council to grandfather them in and allow them to use the meter or reimburse them for a portion of the purchase price.

City staff informed the council that there are 12 irrigation meters in the city, but no other water customers have requested reimbursement. After a short discussion the council supported Mayor Behnke's motion to offer a $35 buyback to all irrigation meter customers, regardless of when they purchased their meter or how much it has been used. The city clerk will mail the offer to customers on record as purchasing an irrigation meter.

The final water agenda item was to give the city engineer the go-ahead to determine cost estimates for the replacement of pump house #1 and keep the city on the Project Priority List for this improvement. The city hopes to qualify for a low interest loan from the Public Facilities Authority if replacement is mandated by the state.

Some other brief council actions included:

• Approving the final payment to Wild River Contracting for $10,115 for the Busch Avenue Drainage Improvement, as recommended by the city engineer.

• Appointing Connie McKay, Nancy Batcheller and Terrie Trudeau as election judges for the upcoming election. Mike Dodge will be the head election judge.

• Rescheduling the August monthly and EDA meetings to Wednesday, August 4 to accommodate National Night Out.

• Reminding the Heritage Preservation Committee that changes in its regular meeting schedule (fourth Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at city hall) must be properly noticed.

The city flowers and plants donated by the council members are growing nicely. This year the flower containers follow a European tradition of city plantings that include edible plants for residents to harvest.

Pedestrians are welcome to pick the variety of peppers and tomatoes that are growing among the flowers in the pots around the city. City Clerk Terrie Trudeau invites city residents to "Make salsa!!"

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