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Lanesboro City Council Report: $$$ - Roadblock for Ox Trail grant

Fri, Jul 21st, 2006
Posted in Government

In order to submit a grant application for roads of regional significance for the Ox Trail, the city of Lanesboro would need to pay preliminary engineering costs of $15,000 to $20,000. Mayor Steve Rahn added, "Personally, I don't think we have much of a chance to get that grant," as he reported on a meeting with the Carrolton Township Board, Fillmore County Engineer John Grindeland, and MNDOT Engineer Steve Kirsch. Rahn told the Lanesboro City Council at their regular July 17 meeting that not only would the city need to pay for the preliminary engineering, the city would also need to pay the usual 20 percent engineering fees for the $400,000 project (to the tune of $80,000) and pay the cost of procuring right-of-ways as well. Rahn summed up, "We're looking at a significant amount of money."

Another option was to ask Minnowa to widen Ox Trail without applying for the grant. Rahn pointed out drawbacks of that idea including that they would probably need to hire an engineer to ensure proper construction to avoid liability issues and there would likely be opposition to too much disturbance of the land from people concerned with the aesthetics of the area. Rahn added that the process of creating a 30 mph curve would totally change Ox Trail. He noted one section of the road was solid rock; there is no way of knowing how stable the area would be once work began on it.

Carrolton Township had reported one landowner was still hesitant to agree to the construction of a road "over the top" to replace Ox Trail. Rahn informed the council that the township was asking the city to contribute to the cost if a new road was developed.

At Rahn's suggestion the council decided to conduct a public hearing on the issue to get public input. City attorney Tom Manion advocated asking Steve Kirsch or another such knowledgeable person to lead the meeting planned for August 7 at 5:30 p.m. Rahn reminded the council the entire community would need to work together with no opposition in order to even have a chance at the grant.

Other roadblocks to Ox Trail renovation mentioned by the council included the possible need for an environmental study or permits from DNR and opposition from historical sites near the road.

Budget procedure

City Administrator Bobbie Torgerson reminded the council it was once again time to begin the budget process. Torgerson plans to visit with department heads to "get a feel for what everyone's thinking." Projecting another $9,000 loss in LGA for next year and about $8,000 less income without the cheese factory, Torgerson expects to need to keep spending down. The council looked at rising fuel and health insurance costs to affect the budget adversely as well. The sale of a lot, reserves, and the fact that there will be no elections this year put the budget in a more positive light, however.

Once again, the council discussed the possibility of adding a local sales tax to increase city income. A state legislator would need to present such a tax in a bill next spring; following passage of the bill, the city would need to pass a referendum before the tax could be enacted. No decisions were made on the issue.

Other business

In other business the council:

• heard Torgerson's report on her classes in the Twin Cities and learned she was now certified as a clerk both state and nationwide;

• agreed to issue Christian Milaster a city address from Hidden Valley Drive;

• gave permission to the Fire Department's Relief Association to raise the firefighters' retirement from $850 to $950 per year served; the department's by-laws will need to be changed and sent to the state;

• decided to keep street sweeping schedule as is after discussing complaints from lodging establishments concerning the early morning start times;

• agreed to pay $100 for a victim liaison with Fillmore County Family Resources;

• granted a two-day liquor permit for the all school reunion August 12 and 13;

• heard 75 to 80 percent of junk ordinance situations had been cleaned up with a few residents asking for more time. The council decided to send another letter to non-complying residents before taking further action.

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