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Rushford looking at $10.3 million for infrastructure improvements


Tue, Apr 21st, 2009
Posted in Government

"You've got 10.3 million dollars worth of improvements you're going to have to do sometime," said engineer John Stewart about Rushford infrastructure to the city council at its regular meeting Monday, April 13.

Water mains and sewer pipes-well, they're just not that fun to talk about, which may explain why this huge issue hanging over the city doesn't generate as much discussion as something like a new motel, despite the fact that it is a sizable, expensive project.

Stewart, of BDM Engineering & Surveyors, LLC, a frequent and personable "guest star" at Rushford city council meetings, outlined the grant and loan scope for utility improvements in sections of the community that are severely burdened by old and failing water distribution systems.

City staff had met with BDM engineers, Dean and Dave Otomo of Otomo Engineering, and Michael C. Bubany of David Drown Associates to discuss an amended version of the "City of Rushford Street and Utility Improvement Program" as previously introduced by Otomo Engineering Services, Ltd. This current initiative is primarily motivated by the State's placement of Rushford on the Project Priority List (PPL) and by the recent availability of federal stimulus tax dollars for the correction of deficient water distribution systems.

Bubany was also present to give information on financing alternatives. After lengthy discussion and presentations, the council agreed to proceed with the necessary next steps for project implementation to meet the August, 2009 funding deadline, when projects wishing for stimulus dollars must be "shovel ready."

Stewart explained that the state of Minnesota, in an effort to make federal stimulus dollars reach a greater number of projects, decided on an 80/20 split-20% grants and 80% low interest loans.

Not surprisingly, the council was most interested in how to come up with funds for the 80%.

Since the biggest variable is LGA (local government aid), Bubany presented a number of funding scenarios that basically ran from least depressing (a house version of aid cuts amounting to $17,885 per year) to really, really depressing (the governor's proposed cuts of $135,261 per year to Rushford).

In all, the capital improvements deemed necessary in the presentation by Stewart total $10,300,000. The plan itself has been changed from the original, particularly in the order that work around town would be completed. Reasons for the changes include extra money that would be available for projects that include a health hazard, and other potential funding sources.

The next step would be a feasibility study which Stewart says "keeps you on the playing field for stimulus money."

Following the study, the plan to keep on track for grant money includes sixteen more steps, including a public hearing May 11, before the work is "shovel ready" in August of this year.

Keeping SEMCAC in town

Terry Erickson and Angela Colbenson of SEMCAC were present to request to buy the damaged Tenborg Commuity Center for $1 with the intention of rehabilitating it to use for Senior Dining and Food Shelf programs.

The senior dining program had to move to Winona after the flood that damaged the Tenborg Center.

According to Colbenson, the food shelf has long struggled in Rushford and is generally "in the red." A new, bigger space and the ability to offer more services would be a step toward maintaining it.

In addition, Colbenson said that the local group can apply for new kitchen equipment for senior dining, but has only until June to make the application. Part of the application needs to include a viable, affordable new location for the program.

Councilmen Robert Dahl and Larry Johnson both had questions for the two. Johnson wondered whether others in the community might be upset to hear of a group getting the building for one dollar when it might be possible to sell it for approximately $50,000.

Mayor Les Ladewig pointed out that SEMCAC is an entity that "serves the public good" and that he'd "defend that to anybody."

Councilwoman Nancy Benson said, "we're replacing a viable entity that we lost in the flood. They (SEMCAC) provide a service to the elderly through senior dining and to those who use the food shelf."

Administrator Windy Block added that SEMCAC provides for "about 55 jobs in the community. I don't think we want to lose them."

The council approved the sale. Now SEMCAC will get to work securing funding of over $250,000 that will be needed to repair the building, some of which they hope to secure from the Rushford business Flood Recovery Program.

In other business, the council:

--approved the execution of agreements with ten surrounding townships/cities that are a part of the service district of the Rushford Fire Department: Arendahl, Norway, Preble, Peterson City, City of Rushford Village, Money Creek, Yucatan, Fremont, Hart and Wiscoy. The suggested contract rate for each governmental unit is determined by multiplying .014 of tax capacity times the coverage percentage, which actually represents a reduction from the .018 rate. The total contract rate for the ten (10) townships will be $41,503.44

--set a date of April 27, 2009 for a public hearing on the proposed vacation of an old "Territorial Road in the NE ¼ of the SW ¼ of Section 11, T104N, R8W, which has been not yet vacated.

--accepted the donation of $250.00 from the American Legion Post #94 for the Library's Children Summer Reading Program.

--accepted the donation of $120.00 from Colleen Tracy, Houston, MN for the Rushford Ambulance Service.



--accepted a donation of $1,000.00 from Winona Rotary Service Fund for the Creekside Park Renovation Project-see the attached resolution.



--accepted a donation of $1,100.00 from Valley Crest Riders, Inc. for the Creekside Park Renovation Project.



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