Public hearing on utility-rate increases set for December

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 13, 2002

The city has set a date for a public hearing on water and sewer rate increases for the Dec. 9 city council meeting.

City manager Paul Sparks said rates will most likely be raised 15 to 20 percent due of the loss of the largest user of those utilities, Farmland Foods.

Other news from Tuesday’s city council meeting:

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– The city council approved a contract with Wal-Mart on contingency that two changes be made to the contract. The first is that the city will not pay more for past-deadline construction and that the city will be paid back in full for the out-of-pocket money it puts into the project if Wal-Mart decides to back out &045; which, incidentally, the company has assured the city it will not do.

The infrastructure of the project will cost $2.6 million, of which the city will pay $200,000. Assessments, both deferred and non-deferred, will equal $400,000, to be paid by the private properties in the area of the project who will benefit from the infrastructure improvements. Wal-Mart will pay the remaining $2 million.

– The city passed a resolution approving a bid for adding a lining to the sanitary sewer on Pearl Street. A low bid of $159,361 was submitted. The project is necessary because of the building of Freeborn County’s courthouse addition, which will cover a portion of Pearl.

The footings laid for the courthouse will result in more pressure on the sewer lines below the street. The sewer lines, according to city manager Paul Sparks, will need to be hardened through the installation of a lining.

The city is unsure how to finance the project, but officials and many council members have expressed hope that the county will pay for the project because it is a result of a county project. However, councilman George Marin asked that the city hear the county out on the project and consider chipping in.

– The city approved a contract with Farmland Foods/Seaboard Farms which will put the deed to the old Farmland site in the city’s hands after the plant demolition is complete, provide payment for the demolition of Farmland buildings, and place responsibility with the city for environmental clean-up after the demolition is complete.

Sparks said this is one of the final versions of the contract and he expects the bankruptcy courts governing Farmland to pass the contract within the next week.

– The city approved a resolution which will have a city worker maintain a county lift station. The city will be paid $6,100 a year by the county to do so. The county is asking the city to lend a worker because it doesn’t have anyone on staff to maintain it for themselves.