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Paynesville Press - November 01, 2006

City Council discusses
plans for Highway 23

The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

•The council was informed about a meeting with MnDOT District 8 representatives and MnDOT aeronautics representatives with the council on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

City administrator Renee Eckerly told the council she was called by Lowell Flaten of MnDOT District 8 in Willmar (the MnDOT office trying to build a new Highway 23 through Paynesville) about submitting plans for municipal consent and starting the intricate design (which could take two years to do).

She asked about an issue with aeronautics and later learned that aeronautics has a concern about lighting on the proposed ramps on the west end of Paynesville. She was told that the city might need to decide between the proposed highway design and the airport.

Bertram called the intra-MnDOT squabble as "pathetic" and recalled that aeronautics had already approved the highway plans. He suggested that the city invited local legislators to attend the meeting in order to help the city.

One question to address is whether this approval by aeronautics can before the interchange was added on the west end of town.

Councilor Dennis Zimmerman, serving as acting mayor in the absence of Mayor Jeff Thompson, said the council needs to remain united for the best interests of Paynesville.

•Following a public hearing, the council approved the final assessments for the 2006 Street Improvement Project, which included reconstructions of portions of Koronis Avenue, Pomeroy Avenue, South Street, and Washburne Avenue as well as an overlay on Central Avenue.

The final assessment rate ($46.91 per foot) is down 13 percent from the proposed rate ($54.15 per foot) originally estimated for the project last fall. On a 100-foot assessment, this rate reduction would decrease the assessment by $724.

Residential water service assessments were approved at $997.50 per hookup and sanitary sewer service assessments at $598.32.

The total final assessment for a 50-foot lot (with water and sewer hookups) is $3,941.32; the total final assessment for a 100-foot lot (again with water and sewer) is $6,286.82.

The total cost of the project, under original estimates, was $1.15 million with the city covering $0.785 million of these costs and with assessments covering $0.367 million ($165,000 on South Street, $81,000 on Washburne Avenue, $58,000 on Pomeroy Avenue, $53,000 on Koronis Avenue, and $9,000 on Central Avenue).

Residents, who were notified of their final assessment in the public hearing notice, can pay these assessments in full in the next 30 days at city hall, or they can opt to pay these assessments via taxes over 10 years (at 6.25 percent interest).

Resident concerns centered around a few remaining to-do items, all of which are on the remaining list for the contractor, said city engineer Chuck DeWolf.

•The council also agreed to replace a pin on South Street to its initial position, which is the standard procedure during a street project. A resident had expressed concern about the pin, but the council, under advisement from city staff, concluded that the resident's concern was due to a misunderstanding.

The council rejected conducting a property survey as requested by the resident.

•The council approved the low bid to construct the driveway to the new Ampe Park from Kuechle Underground of Kimball in the amount of $32,811. This was the lowest of three bids for the project. Kuechle Underground, said DeWolf, will be doing the work for the adjoining Heatherwood Plat 3 this fall.

•The council approved a temporary moratorium on excavating, mining, and grading in the the city. The city can pass a moratorium while researching a permanent ordinance, city attorney Bill Spooner told the council. The moratorium is for six months but could be extended.

Four existing lots with stockpiles of materials (black dirt, gravel, etc.) were exempted in the interim ordinance. Common earthwork (for building projects, utility work, and agriculture) were also exempted.

•The council was informed by Bertram that the trail committee is looking at several options for routing the trail from the city to the Glacial Lakes State Trail. This project was originally scheduled for 2006 but was delayed by MnDOT's proposed change to Cemetery Road (now restored to full construction).

Bertram informed the council that they had previously given permission to allow the trail to run on city land, including the airport, and asked for confirmation that the council still supported this. They did, with their only concern being that any use of the airport property not jeopardize state and federal funding. Approval by MnDOT aeronautics is being sought before the trail would use the airport land.

•The council approved three fund transfers, because three city funds were scheduled to be deficit at the end of the year. The transfers were $175,553 to the Paynesville Municipal Airport Construction Fund; $28,865 to the Lake Koronis Recreation Trail Capital Improvement Fund; and $3,424 to the Ridgeview Sixth Addition Construction Fund.

The airport fund, which is still owed $142,000 in state aid, will show that deficit balance at the end of the year, said Eckerly. MnDOT Aeronautics lost $15 million in funding from the legislature last year, which hopefully will be restored next year, said Eckerly, which would allow MnDOT to pay the city these outstanding grants owed it.

The city also will be billing the township its share for trail costs (roughly $9,200) for the segment from the city to Old Lake Road.

•The council reviewed a debt management study done for the city by Monte Eastvold of Northland Securities. The study, done at no cost to the city, tracks the city's bond issues, which each have a designated fund that makes the annual payments through a combination of sewer and water rates, special assessments, tax levies, and interest earnings. Most city bond funds were in good shape, though Eastvold noted a few that might face deficits in coming years.

•The council approved access to Terracon to conduct probes on Koronis Avenue, Lake Avenue, Mill Street, and in the alley south of Koronis Avenue. Terracon is a consulting engineer for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which is monitoring a petroleum plume from an old gas station on Lake Avenue and Mill Street. This monitoring started in 1997, said public works director Ron Mergen, and the city has an access agreement with the MPCA, but Terracon wanted verbal approval to conduct probes.

Terracon is planning to use 60 laser-induced fluorescent probes (to be verified by 12 soil probes). Terracon will also be monitoring for any petroleum vapors, said Mergen. Remedies remain a possibility, added Mergen.

The discovery of the petroleum prompted the city to shut down one of its wells. Then the plume started to move, until the city started pumping water out of the well and disposing of it. This should have kept the petroleum plume in its original place, said Mergen.

•The council approved purchasing new cable equipment for the local cable-access channel in the amount of $4,607. The council previously approved purchasing new equipment for $3,051 in July, but this equipment is either obsolete or no longer available. The cable committee had approved spending up to $5,500 for this digital equipment, which was used on a loan to broadcast the council meeting last week.

•The council approved spending $1,000 in EDAP funds to have Central Minnesota Housing Partnership conduct a housing study. Eckerly said several developers have asked for this, though one has not been done in at least 15 years. It would show the needs, surpluses, future needs, estimate timelines, etc. Central Minnesota Housing Partnership will try to schedule this study in 2007, said Eckerly.

•The council received the survey results from local contractors and residents who used the city's building inspector in the last year. The council is planning to hold a joint meeting with the planning commission on Wednesday, Nov. 8, to review its building inspection contract with Inspectron, Inc. Thirty-three surveys were returned.

•The council approved raising per diems, effective in 2007, to $45 for a half-day event and to $90 for a full-day event. Per diems are presently $40 for a half-day event and $80 for a full-day event.

This item had been tabled previously due to a League of Minnesota Cities recommendation that this be done by ordinance, not resolution. City attorney Bill Spooner had discussed the matter with League of Minnesota Cities officials and reviewed the state law. Per diems clearly need to be established for the next year before an election but how they are set is not mandated, said Spooner. The city has always set salaries by ordinance and referenced in that ordinance the per diems by resolution.

In the future, the city could reference the per diems directly in the ordinance, said Spooner.

•Following a public hearing, the council approved certifying 20 refuse accounts as delinquent and four water/snow removal/mowing bills as delinquent for the purpose of adding them to real estate taxes if they are not paid within 30 days. Don Williamson, the owner of West Central Sanitation, said these refuse accounts would be sent letters informing the residents of the process and their opportunity to pay. With a ten-percent surcharge the delinquent refuse bills total $2,025 and the other bills total $753.

Bertram, who works for West Central Sanitation, abstained from the vote.

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