Rushford Village Council has appointed resident Roger Knutson to the council seat left vacant by the resignation of Councilor Rich Smith earlier this summer. Smith resigned his position due to a move. Letters from three interested applicants were opened and read at the Tuesday, September 3 council meeting. The applicants included two former councilors, Todd Baker and Hamilton Peterson, who also sits on the city’s Planning and Zoning Board. The third applicant was Roger Knutson, who is currently employed as the Public Works Director for the City of Rushford.
Discussion of the applicants was brief as a general consensus was quickly achieved. Knutson maintains several state licenses that could prove useful to the city, as well as his professional insight into many of the issues the village is dealing with.
“He would be a big asset to the city,” noted Councilor Mike Ebner. “The fact that he’s willing to step forward and being here tonight shows he’s very interested.” Knutson was the only applicant to attend the council meeting. After unanimous approval of his appointment, Knutson was sworn in by acting Clerk Judy Graham.
Also in attendance was City Engineer Derek Olinger, of Bolton & Menk, who presented updated information on the South Rushford Flood Analysis. While the majority of figures presented remained the same, the update keyed in on specific costs, mapping, and details of improvement plans.
“The primary purpose is to increase capacity on the Highway 43 crossings. It’s creating the biggest drainage issues,” noted Olinger. There has been discussion of potential funding assistance from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for culvert replacement, as the road is on the docket for 2023 repairs. However, the grading of the drainage area north of the Sherwood Street/Highway 43 intersection is the critical portion. “Everything else, it doesn’t make sense until the Highway 43 crossing is in,” added Olinger.
The goal of grading is to create a good outlet for water draining through the mainly west portion of South Rushford. “The ditches don’t have a good outlet and it’s filled in with sediment. We’d be excavating a new ditch to create better elevations,” clarified Olinger. The estimated total cost, including engineering, contingencies, and legal work, is $42,165 and the culvert replacement portion is $22,141. It was stressed that high end unit pricing was utilized for project estimates and that it’s likely the city may find the work to be done for less. “Quotes could be all over the board with the size of the project and it might come down to who is available.”
The grading would affect land currently owned by the Kopperud family. A temporary construction easement or permanent drainage easement would need to be secured prior to work. There are utilities, including lighting and telephone/cable lines, in the proposed work area, but typically, there would be no cost to the city to relocate these utilities as they are in a public right-of-way maintained by MnDOT. Still, a utility meeting would be held prior to work.
Once work on the north side of the crossing is complete, the city would likely turn its focus to grading and ditch work on the west side of Sherwood Street. Proposed plans call for the deepening and grading of the ditches to the point where the ditch bottom would be at or very near the property/right-of-way line. Again, at a minimum, a temporary construction easement would be needed. Olinger recommended securing permanent drainage easements however. “It allows you to enter the property at any time. It’s absolutely the right way to do it. Even without addressing culvert issue, this would see a substantial drainage improvement,” said Olinger. The cost of this work is estimated at $82,000.
The second portion of the potential project is addressing the Meadow Avenue outfall at Highway 16. Similarly, ditch grading is needed to divert water through an existing culvert. That culvert unfortunately sits a foot and a half too high, severely limiting drainage. Replacement of the culvert is recommended using a jack and auger method. The grading and culvert are estimated at $82,114 and $99,708 respectively.
Olinger has discussed the project and funding of it with the city’s financial consultant, Mike Bubany, of David Drown Associates. Bubany is recommending is a MN Rural Water microloan. “With smaller loans, the key is to control the issuance costs. The interest rate is a little higher; but the issuance is so much less, so the total paid at the end of the day is significantly less,” added Olinger. It was recommended that the city put an additional $15,000-16,000 in the next levy to budget for project loan payments. Funding may also require some utility funds be tapped. Tax abatement bonds are also an option, according to Bubany via Olinger. Another option is to go forward with project, but make no payment until 2021. All funding would be based on a ten-year term.
“We talked about splitting it up into more than one year. It might be nice instead of pushing it all through at one time,” noted Mayor Gordon Johnson. The council will continue to discuss the options and will consider it further as talks turn to the 2020 budget cycle.
In other road-related items, Bolton & Menk is currently reviewing bridge inspection reports from Fillmore County and working with Generation X Construction on repairs to Benson Lane. The council preliminarily granted approval for Benson Lane work, contingent on the final cost being less than the $25,000 competitive bid threshold. A plan sheet and quote form has been provided to Generation X. Bolton & Menk will work closely on the project to verify repairs meet all standards. The crossing suffered undermining of concrete sides following excessive rainfall and flooding earlier this spring and summer.
The council also approved the bid opening and selection of Harter’s Quick Clean Up Service for trash collection. Five scenarios were presented in the bid and in the end, the council opted to approve the fourth, which will provide for weekly garbage pickup, every other week recycling pickup, and 95-gallon recycling totes to be provided by Harter’s. The contract is for three years with a three year extension. The extension includes cost of living increases every year after the initial three.
Continued from last month’s discussion, while there has been no official permit put forth by MiEnergy for a potential solar array land lease from the Village, the council has alerted Featherstone Farms that their bare land lease of the area will not automatically renew this fall. The Planning and Zoning Board will await permit application and will bring forth a recommendation to the city council for use of the land if needed.
A meeting between the Village and municipalities/townships interested in a mutual aid agreement for public works assistance has been scheduled for October 1, at 5:30 p.m., at the village hall. The council meeting was adjourned with a continuance until Tuesday, September 10, for the purpose of budget proposal discussion.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Tuesday, September 17, at 7 p.m., at the village hall. The public is encouraged to attend.