The City of Rushford has received an update on an ongoing flood insurance study for certain properties located on Nannestad Lane and Green Street. Several properties were identified following the new Department of Natural Resources (DNR) flood mapping last year. Initially, it appeared several would be required to secure federal flood insurance for their properties, but that number has now been reduced to 10.
The DNR has approved a Letter of Map Revision for the city and they are now being reviewed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. City Engineer Derek Olinger, of Bolton & Menk, has indicated the letters will be approved, but that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has significantly slowed the normal processing times as agencies are working with remote situations. The process indicates a 90-day decision turn around, but City Clerk Kathy Zacher indicated additional clarifications have been sought by FEMA and each question essentially “resets the clock,” on the time frame.
While 10 properties were identified, just six are sharing in the financial portion of the study. All 10 will benefit from the study. “When the approval is granted, the others may decide to participate, but if they don’t there is no feasible method to require them to pay or to exclude their property from the map revisions,” noted Zacher in the December 28 council agenda. “Having the Letter of Map Revision in place will save all property owners from having to acquire flood insurance in the future and it will improve the resale value of their property.”
She further indicated the six participating property owners are hoping that with a little pressure on the neighbors, the four properties that have declined to financially assist with the cost will instead decide to help.
“I’ve spoken to them and they can’t afford additional costs at this time,” noted Mayor Terri Benson. When final approval is received, the property owners will be contacted by the city again.
The council has also received an update on ongoing projects at the municipal airport. Following a fire last October 2019, the city has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the state on relocation of electrical equipment for the airport. They had been housed in a hangar that was a complete loss due to the fire and the city is being required to place the electrical systems in a concrete vault away from other buildings.
Project Engineer Matt Wagner, of Mead & Hunt Engineering, has requested a second change order in the amount of $3,700. The additional cost is to install a thermostat-controlled fan, damper, and weather hood to better regulate the internal temperature of the vault and equipment inside.
“Even with the air vents included, there’s a lot of heat generated in the building. It’s a concrete building and it will be sitting out in the sun. They didn’t want expensive equipment potentially damaged and needed some additional temperature control,” explained Zacher.
“I don’t like change orders. This should have been thought of before,” stated Councilor Jim O’Donnell. “This is the second one like this. One had some outside influences. This sounds like they didn’t do their homework all the way.”
“I felt like it was something that should have been thought of prior,” added Benson. “I’m disappointed that they couldn’t have thought of it sooner.
“Both of the last two things are things they should have thought of,” said Councilor Leigh Volkmann.
The council directed city staff to share the details of their frustrations on the items that were missed. The project is funded 90% federally, and 5% by both the state and city. The city will pay the costs up front and be reimbursed. The change order was approved unanimously.
The council also approved two requests related to the Economic Development Authority’s Revolving Loan Fund Residential Rehabilitation program. The deferred loans carry a 2% interest for a period of 10 years and allow residents in the city, who meet income guidelines, to secure funding for approved repairs and improvements to their homes. No payments are due on the loans until the home is sold or is not the borrower’s principal place of residence. South East Minnesota Action Council (SEMCAC) handles review of application and oversight on the projects.
One request, for $18,775, is a revised total for a previously approved project. The cost increased due to discovery of additional health and safety issues. The second request, for $24,999, is for the repair and remodeling of a basement that was damaged in the flood. The basement was cleared out at that time, but was never rebuilt into usable space again.
In other housing news, Minnesota Housing has announced the approval of funding to create and and preserve housing within communities. $300,000 has been earmarked for Semcac and the City of Rushford Renovation Loan Program. “It’l reach a different group of people,” noted Zacher.
“Hopefully, it’ll qualify those that don’t qualify for low-income housing, but can’t get bank loans either,” added Councilor Sally Ryman.
An additional parcel of land within the Himlie Business Park has officially been sold. Discussed and approved at a previous meeting, this is the second parcel sale in the business park within the year. The revenue generated by the sales is placed into Fund 350, according to Zacher. City staff will look at the potential of early payoff of the bond on the land, as well as the possibility of levying less taxes for covering the debt of the land. As property tax levy is already in place for 2021, the city would be eyeing a possible change for tax levy for 2022. “There’s different ways to look at it, so we’ll have to check them all out,” noted Zacher.
The January meeting will touch on the job review of City Administrator Tony Chladek. Reviews from all councilors will be consolidated by Mayor Benson for discussion.
As a reminder, there are openings on various boards and commissions within the city. They include three spots on the Airport Commission, three on the Planning Commission, one on the Economic Development Authority, and one on the Rushford Electric Commission. Interested persons should contact city hall.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Monday, January 11, at 6:30 p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.