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Paynesville Press - March 1, 2006

City council handles heavy agenda

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22. *The council approved an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for the proposed North Paynesville Development by Ferche Development, LLC. A 30-day comment period for the EAW started on Monday, Feb. 27. The EAW was required for the 238-acre development. (See story.)

*The council approved putting a referendum on Sunday on-sale liquor sales in the city of Paynesville on the November ballot.

Doris and Tom Wendlandt of Queen Bee's Bar and Grill asked the council to put the issue on the ballot at the general election without requiring them to gather a petition. Since the referendum could be held in conjunction with the general election in November, expenses will be minimal, especially compared to the costs of a special election.

The council agreed that the Wendlandts have shown the ability to gather the signatures necessary to force a referendum on the issue and the general election seemed like a good time to get input from city residents on the issue.

The referendum will decide whether on-sale liquor - to be consumed at a bar/restaurant - will be allowed in the city of Paynesville. Off-sale liquor sales - such as at the municipal liquor store - are prohibited on Sundays by state law.

On-sale liquor on Sundays has been denied three times by city residents in the past six years. In November 2000, at a general election, it failed 534-508. In July 2001 and in February 2004, at special elections, it failed by votes of 262-184 and 181-160 respectively. (See story.)

*The council accepted the low bid (from 11 bidders) for the 2006 Street Improvement Project from R.L. Larson Excavating of St. Cloud in the amount of $905,021.67.

The project includes reconstructing Koronis Avenue (from Highway 23 to Mill Street); reconstructing Washburne Avenue (from Highway 23 to Mill Street); reconstructing Pomeroy Avenue (from Highway 23 to South Street); reconstructing the western two-thirds of South Street; and overlaying the south end of Central Avenue. Reconstruction includes tearing out the pavement and replacing sewer and water lines under the street before rebuilding the pavement, sidewalks, and curbs and gutters.

The bids ranged from a low bid of $905,021.67 to a high bid of $1,405,521.51. Before approving the Larson bid, the council was informed that this company has done two previous street projects in the city: the 1991 downtown street project and the 1994 sewer rehabilitation project.(See story.)

*The council approved purchasing general obligation bonds from Northland Securities in the amount of $1,140,000 to pay for the street project. Interest rates for the 15-year bond averages to a net effective rate of 4.29 percent.

To pay for the bonds, approximately $105,000 per year, the city will get an estimated $44,000 per year from special assessments, $40,000 per year from the tax levy, and $22,500 per year from water and sewer rates.

*The council also approved having Bolton & Menk to design stormsewer improvements in the area of Service Road with an estimated project cost of $46,300. The city has wanted to fix a flooding problem in this area that occurs each spring, but MnDOT rejected a joint project.

The new plan involves only a 12-inch pipe, to lower the costs, instead of a 36-inch pipe. The council asked if this would be sufficient, and DeWolf said he thought it would solve the flooding problem in the spring. Public works director Ron Mergen added that the 36-inch pipe could have served future developments in the area, while the 12-inch pipe will not, meaning future developments will need to handle their own stormwater.

This project will be added to the 2006 Street Improvement Project as a change order.

*The council tabled a tree concept plan for Washburne Avenue, in order of city staff to talk with landowners on the block between Highway 23 and Mill Street to be affected by the street project. The tree plan calls for 18 trees to be lost due to the street project and to be replaced with 30 trees.

The cost for planting potted trees in the fall is $4,500, while the cost for planting bare-root trees in the spring is $3,375. Council member Dennis Zimmerman said the extra growth in the fall might justify the higher cost. The council asked city staff to get input from residents on the block before deciding.

*The council approved a resolution supporting state bonding funds ($1 million) for the improvement of the Glacial Lakes State Trail from the Kandiyohi/Stearns county line to Cold Spring.

*The council requested Mergen, who will be acting as interim city administrator starting in March, to contact Lowell Flaten with MnDOT District 8 (Willmar) and have him come to a council meeting and present some alignment changes to the Highway 23 improvement proposal for Paynesville.

The city has been waiting for a formal proposal from MnDOT to consider for municipal consent.

Flaten recently informed city administrator Steve Helget that the geometrics staff at MnDOT's central office in St. Paul requested some alignment changes and offered to come to the council and explain them when they are finalized. Flaten said that a proposal for municipal consent would not be submitted to the city until mid to late March.

*The council established an ad hoc committee to review the long-term building needs of the fire department and consider the status of the ambulance garage. Major mold problems have been found at the ambulance garage, which is adjacent to the fire hall.

The committee, which will include counsilors Jeff Bertram and Tom Lindquist in addition to representatives of the fire department, police department, and ambulance corps, will examine the long-term space needs and options for both buildings.

In the meantime, the city and hospital have agreed to continue the lease arrangement for the ambulance garage, which the hospital leases from the city.

*The council approved the following contributions for 2006: Paynesville Area Center, $10,500; Paynesville Area Historical Society, $10,000; PNLS Hockey Association, $6,000; Paynesville Area Community Education, $5,394; Koronis Hills Snowmobile Club, $2,500; Paynesville Community Club, $2,250; and Paynesville Area Prom Party, $500.

*The council approved restated bylaws for the Paynesville Firefighter's Relief Association. The relief association met 18 times in 2005 reviewing the changes in attendance policy, application for benefits, investment policy, and other changes to comply with state law.

*The council set its board of appeal and equalization for Tuesday, May 9, at 6:30 p.m. This meeting is for taxpayers who wish to appeal their assessment.

*The council was informed that the planning commission had reviewed the city's 2003 comprehensive plan recently, especially the future land-use map. While acknowledging that changes would need to be made in light of improvements to Highway 23, the planning commission did not recommend any immediate changes, opting to wait to make any changes to maximize flexibility.

*The council approved purchasing one new civil defense siren for $11,049.23 plus installation from the Federal Signal Corporation of Illinois. The city currently has two civil defense sirens - one at city hall and the other by Highway 55 - and this third siren will be installed along Main Street on the west end to provide better coverage of this part of the city. The city would also like to move the siren on Highway 55 to a better (higher) location to improve its coverage.

*The council approved a final payment of $23,631.63 to Randy Kramer Excavating for the 2004 Ridgeview Sixth Addition.

*The council approved spending up to $6,500 with new city engineer Bolton & Menk, Inc., to update the city's base map and utility maps.

*The council also approved allowing Bolton & Menk to pursue other projects and contracts within the city. Engineer Chuck DeWolf of Bolton & Menk said his firm wanted the council's blessing before accepting other projects in the city.

*The council approved spending $2,500 for preliminary engineering consulting services from Bolton & Menk for the downtown enhancement project. These consulting services would help the committee select street lights, benches, planters, and pavers that fit the city's "historic" theme.

The EDAP board had previously agreed to pay for this consulting service from its operational fund (which is seperate from its revolving loan fund).

*The council approved replacing three new downtown tree planters and advertising for bids.

*The council set a special meeting for Monday, March 27, at 6 p.m. at the Paynesville Area Center in order to hold their annual joint meeting with all city boards and committees.

*The council approved closing the following city funds and transfers of surpluses/deficits to other accounts. Closing the 2002 Lake Avenue Debt Fund, the 2002 Lake Avenue Construction Fund, the 2002 Michaelis Olmscheid Construction Fund, and the 2002 Michaelis Olmscheid Debt Fund and transferring $36,868.47 to the Water and Sewer Capital Fund. Closing the 2002 Ampe Construction Fund and transferring $15,496.59 to the 2002 Ampe Debt Fund. And closing the Kruger Lake Nature Preserve Fund and transferring $1,020.84 from the Park Capital Improvement Fund to cover expenses related to the attempt to establish the preserve. All these transfers were retroactive to Dec. 21, 2005.

*The council approved a step increase for liquor store clerk Renee Topp, retroactive to 2,080 hours.

*The council approved a step increase for Marsha Meed, data entry clerk for the Paynesville Police Department, retroactive to reaching 1,040 hours.

*The council approved retaining Denise Baune as a temporary secretary. She was hired to assist with various projects and to fill in for administrative assistant Jennifer Welling while Welling is on maternity leave. With the resignation of city administrator Steve Helget and the potential additional work load for city staff, the personnel committee recommended keeping Baune and review the need for her services on a month-by-month basis.

*The council approved allowing any council member to attend the League of Minnesota Cities State of the Cities Legislative Conference on Thursday, March 30, in St. Paul. Registration is $80 per person.

*The council approved allowing Mayor Jeff Thompson to attend the Minnesota Mayors Association annual conference on April 28-29 in Austin. Registration is $120.

*The council approved allowing police chief Kent Kortlever to attend the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association's 2006 Executive Training Institute in St. Cloud from April 24-27. Registration is $320.

*The council approved allowing U.S. Anglers to use Veteran's Memorial Park on Lake Koronis for a bass tournament on Sunday, July 16. U.S. Anglers plans to hold a two-day bass tournament with 40 boats with the first day on Green Lake and the second day on Lake Koronis. The weigh-in on the second day will be held at Veteran's Memorial Park.

*The council presented Helget with a picture of downtown Paynesville from 1910 as a memento of his service to the city. Helget has resigned his position, effective March 1, to take the city administrator job in Montgomery, Minn.

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