Council approves how to spend city’s surplus funds

Published 10:02 pm Monday, April 22, 2019

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday finalized how to allocate $1.25 million in surplus funds for various efforts across the city.

After some discussion, the council voted unanimously on the following transfers:

• $400,000 to replenish the economic development fund.

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• $350,000 to establish a storm water capital project fund that would be used for projects involving issues such as flooding.

• $200,000 to establish a housing program fund that could be used for things such as starting a housing program, rehabilitating an area or be given as a cash incentive for a developer.

• $150,000 to the building maintenance fund.

• $75,000 to the capital project revolving fund for the proposed Blazing Star Landing community center development.

• $75,000 to the capital project revolving fund for ball fields.

An additional $500,000 has been set aside in reserve in the event of an emergency, the city is approached with a
major opportunity or if needed
to avoid an increase in taxes next year.

Before the vote, 3rd Ward Councilor Jason Howland asked whether some of the funding could be put toward some of the park projects that are further down on the city’s capital improvement plan — specifically for a pavilion at Morin Park and the proposed inclusive park near Albert Lea City Arena.

Howland said doing so would have an immediate, positive effect on the community and help advance these projects forward. Citizens have come forward in council meetings previously advocating for these projects.

“It’s a good opportunity to strike while the iron’s hot,” he said.

Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said the council will need to have a discussion about these types of projects and whether citizen-fundraised projects will receive city funds.

First Ward Councilor Rich Murray questioned if there were other projects that should be completed first, and 5th Ward Councilor Robert Rasmussen said though he supported the two park projects and thinks they would be well utilized, he thinks the council needs to look at all of the capital improvement projects in the city before making a decision.

Howland asked if when the council and staff review the capital improvement plan that the Morin Park pavilion and park near the arena be moved higher on the priority list.

In other action, the board:

• Accepted bids and awarded a contract to Jensen Excavating & Trucking LLC for about $227,000 for installation of watermain on U.S. Highway 69 and 214th Street.

The area where the waterman will be replaced on Highway 69 is where there have been multiple watermain breaks in recent years between Highway 13 and Front Street.

Albert Lea City Engineer Steven Jahnke said the watermain was installed there in the 1960s but has had breaks because of the corrosive soils in that part of town. The new pipe will be made of plastic so it will not be able to corrode.

Five bids ranging from $227,000 to $327,000 were received for the project, and the engineer’s estimate was about $208,000.

• Accepted bids and awarded a contract to Municipal Pipe Tool Co. of Hudson, Iowa, for $93,000 for a sanitary sewer sliplining project that will start at Morin Park.

Jahnke said the project will not require digging up any roadway to replace the mains, and crews will be setting up around the manholes at the park to complete their work.

The project uses a process where a resin-soaked sock is pulled through an existing pipe. The resin is heat cured using steam or hot water, and eventually results in a new pipe encased within the existing sewer line.

The city received two bids for the project. The second bid was for about $132,000 from Lametti & Sons Inc. of Hugo.

The engineer’s estimate was about $94,000.

• Authorized a maintenance cooperative agreement with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to provide oversight of the wastewater treatment facility at Myre-Big Island State Park for two years.

The state park will continue to do the day-to-day operations, and the city will review and oversee operations.

The city will be paid on an hourly basis for the work provided.

• Voted to continue a public hearing to the council’s next meeting about vacating the rights-of-way of East Pearl Street and Elizabeth Avenue where the new fire station will be built. The council also voted to continue action on approving preliminary and final plats of the property for the fire station to the next meeting.

Adams said the city is working with Minnesota Energy Resources to resolve an issue recently discovered over the next few weeks and would like to have that resolved before the vacations and plats were voted on.

• Passed a resolution vacating rights-of-way within Chapeau Shores Sixth Addition.

Adams said Nick and Amy Hanke, who own a home and live on Lake Chapeau Drive, along with some of their neighbors, would like to add some land to their yards from the adjacent Chapeau Shores Sixth Subdivision, which was platted but undeveloped.

The Hankes purchased the entire undeveloped plat to facilitate this and submitted a new plat that would allow revision of the property boundaries as they want but also maintain right-of-way to allow for city facilities to expand to the west when growth occurs.

Adams said for this land — now known as Hanke Subdivision — to be replatted, the city must vacated platted streets on the existing plat.

Once this was completed, the council approved the preliminary and final plats for the property and a development agreement with Hankedoodle LLC for the development.

• Approved selling a 1984 International semi-tractor with tanker trailer to Freeborn County for $7,000. It had been used to transfer biosolids from the wastewater treatment plant storage tanks to the fields.

• Approved a resolution supporting a grant application to the Minnesota State Energy Office to promote energy education.

The grant, for $5,000, would support developing education content and a master presentation about solar curriculum for Albert Lea schools for students in grades six through eighth. The product of this grant can then be used to provide Albert Lea community education on solar energy to youth, general audiences and business owners.

• Approved two 15-minute parking stalls in front of First Presbyterian Church for 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church.

• Appointed Richard Yost to the Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

• Moved the council meeting from May 27 to May 28 because of Memorial Day.

Look to the Tribune’s Wednesday edition for more coverage from the council meeting.