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Harmony City Council looks at street project

Fri, Dec 14th, 2012
Posted in Harmony Government

By Jade Sexton

Brett Grabau from Bonestroo was at the Harmony City Council meeting on December 11, 2012, to discuss the street repair projects on 1st Ave SW. It is a county road, and the county is planning on doing a reclaim and repave to that entire stretch of road. It will not be a total reconstruct, but the city needs to do work to the utilities underneath the road at the same time as this project.

“They are not going to pour money into something if the city isn’t comfortable with the utilities underneath,” said Grabau.

Grabau said Maintenance Employee Chris Johnson and City Administrator Jerome Illg looked at the utility needs and came up with some estimated numbers. The sanitary sewer under that road is working, but it will need to be televised. Also, there is clay pipe under there for a few blocks, which will have to be upgraded. The water main will have to be reconstructed from Center Street to Third Street. Johnson said right now there are 4-inch cast iron pipes under there, which are dinosaurs. They need to have at least 6-inch pipes to get good enough water pressure for fire protection.

There will also need to be utility service, storm sewer, and street improvements. The total estimated cost of all of these is around $200,000.

There was some discussion about assessing property owners on the sanitary sewer, water main, and utility service improvements at 25 percent. There was also discussion about contacting the county to see what kind of cost share they could get. The council approved getting the ball rolling on getting more information, designing the project, and informing residents.

Police Car

Deputy Jesse Grabau spoke to the council about the purchase of a new squad car. He received thre bids for three different cars, and they discussed the pros and cons of each. The council approved the purchase of a 2013 Dodge Charger at an approximate cost of $23,500. They will also need to buy a new digital camera system, as Grabau said they are still using VHS and tapes are getting hard to come by. The Charger will have a higher resale value than the other choices. There is sufficient money in the capital projects fund for the purchase.

Grabau’s current vehicle has more than 80,000 miles on it and is a 2008 model. It will be taken to auction and could bring from $3,500 to $4,500.

Budget and Levy

Illg reminded the council that they now have to think about the 1st Ave SW project when finalizing the budget. They were not aware of the project when the preliminary budget and levy were approved in September.

Illg’s thoughts about the project were to finance it from within their budget, using water funds, sewer funds, and assessments. Council member Gerald Shuck mentioned that interest rates are low right now, so maybe they could keep the budget the way it is, and finance the project externally. Illg also mentioned that they are refinancing the USDA bond right now, and maybe it would be possible to throw in another $200,000 at that interest rate. He is going to talk with Mike Bubany about it.

The council approved adding back the money that was cut from each department at the last meeting, and approved the levy at $537,200.

Ambulance training

Eileen Schansberg spoke to the council and requested an incentive for ambulance crewmembers that have to take a refresher course. There are new state regulations that say they need to take a transition course, which is a lot more intensive than the usual refresher course needed to get recertified.

According to Schansberg, the course includes online quizzes, skills refresher courses, and tests. She noted that other communities, such as Lanesboro, have had problems with decreasing numbers on their ambulance crews. She asked that each member who successfully completes the course receive $500 as an incentive to keep people on.

“Harmony needs this,” said Schansberg. She added that it is a lot of extra work for them, and she has concerns about what could happen with their small crew. She also said they have the money in the ambulance fund, and the council approved it.

Park Board

Dan Tieffenbacher noted that the layout for the playground at Selvig Park was approved, and they also approved using pea rock. They are looking for volunteers to help install the equipment in the spring and are going to ask the Conservation Club, the fire department, church members, and students over the age of 16 to help out. The Lions Club has donated funds and will also help.

Other Business

Illg informed the council that at the end of the year, there would be money left over from the TIF District #1, as it will be expiring. There will be around $85-90,000 left over, which will go back to the state, and 75 percent will be given back and distributed to the city, county, and the school. The EDA has requested the amount that the city gets back to use for a loan program similar to the commercial rehab loans. They would like to use those funds to possibly expand the industrial park.

Jesse Grabau, council member Jim Bakken, and Illg will be getting together to discuss the policy on driving golf carts and ATVs on the streets, as there have been some issues.

The council thanked Dan Tieffenbacher for his years of service to the council, as it was his last meeting. They also welcomed Lynn Mensink, who will be on the council as of January.

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