September 15, 2023 at 11:17 a.m.
Center City hit with unexpected infrastructure costs
The infrastructure in Center City is aging and last week, city council members sifted through a number of project requests from the public works department head Eric Garner. The “deferred maintenance is catching up with us,” Garner stated.
Council okayed a quote from Sogard Electric to be on-hand at a charge of $1,000, when a main water system meter is changed out by Calibration Controls for about $10,000. This modernized metering is important for accuracy when chemicals are being introduced into the system, Garner explained. Also the meter upgrade probably should have been done five years ago, for its role in tracking what water is pumped and how much revenue the city gets for that use. Garner said there’s similar work to be done on the wastewater side of things, but he plans to bring those quotes to a future council meeting.
The water enterprise fund will probably be zeroed out with this expense, but the upcoming quarterly billing will immediately start to build it back up.
This is separate from the individual in-home customer meters that are showing signs of breakdown, and gradually being changed out.
Also, when Garner went to shut-off city water for a remodel project in a dwelling on Park Island he said the municipal curb stop, a mechanism through which water can be blocked, the stop was inoperable. Another box near Marine Dock, in the commercial area, also was found to be obsolete. Garner had quotes from Lawrence Contracting for not-to-exceed $1,000 for each, but estimated it’ll be closer to $800.
The city is cooperating with the county contractor prepping the old jail and “telephone building” site for demolition. Garner said he’d been involved in disconnecting sewer and water into the work zone. Actual tear down is anticipated shortly. This is all being overseen by Chisago County as the property owner.
Council adopted a 2024 maximum preliminary budget and levy of $355,500.
A public hearing is scheduled for December 6 prior to finalizing the numbers for 2024. The 2022 amount was $341,860 and the 2021 amount was $323,000.
The city will use $7,000 previously assessed as taxes for debt service for the now paid off Smith Metals development abatement, and move it to parks and a dock fund.
The city was recently offered a docking system for $10,400, reported to be a good price, and Mayor Jill Behnke told council last week there is $7,000 now collected for this; including a $5,000 Chisago Lakes Area Community Foundation grant, to be awarded officially this month to the city. She will continue to work on collecting donations for the remainder and moving forward, the dock fund will be used for maintenance. etc.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fishing pier replacement is in limbo, with no word on when the new structure is arriving to replace Center City’s old public pier.
* Elsewhere in the budget a new donation was approved to the county Historical Society for $100.
* Council approved an October to December 2023 liquor license for Fiesta Cancun. The restaurant-bar is being located in refurbished space in the mall. There was some property-swapping of small outlying pieces of land that were leftovers in platting the adjacent streets and mall site, Boundaries were defined for accommodating an outdoor patio.
* Ben Elfelt, Chisago County Chisago Lakes Lake Improvement District Director, had a brief presentation for the council. He introduced himself, since he’s only been in his post for about a year. He also spoke about where the LID spends its revenues, shown as a separate line item on your county tax statements.
The LID is a geographic taxing area which is basically the chain of lakes watershed and LID-specific parcels are taxed.