Help is on the way, but not until next year.

The Scandia City Council last week approved a temporary drainage project that will help address flooding in a number of homes in the Bliss neighborhood west of Big Marine Lake.

The project, which is estimated to cost around $47,000, will not be completed this season. Instead the work will be added to the city’s 2021 road improvements project.

City Engineer Ryan Goodman, who called the project an “extreme temporary fix,” said the city would be hard-pressed to complete the project yet this spring. Even if the city could find a contractor willing to do the work, allowing the necessary time for design and getting quotes would put the construction into late October. 

“We’re getting close to freeze-up time,” Goodman said.

Goodman said rolling the project into next year’s road work would both put it on a more feasible timeline and help lower costs. 

During the city’s public hearing over Zoom, at least one unidentified resident noted his disapproval of the timeline, blurting out an expletive to do so.

For his part, Brad Bergo, the Bliss resident whose complaints about flooding at his home over the past few years led to the city admitting fault for part of the problem, was grateful for the city’s attention.

“Thank you for taking the time to help me out here,” Bergo said.

Bergo did not address the council again after the project timeline was determined.

Goodman has previously advised that the solution would be temporary and somewhat limited, as flooding issues are prevalent throughout the lakeshore neighborhood. The Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District is currently conducting a study of the entire lake, examining both stormwater and water quality issues. A potential larger-scale project resulting from that study might qualify for grant funding.  

Councilman Steve Kronmiller, though, urged the council to not wait “a couple of years and maybe for a grant.”

“I certainly think we need to address (Bergo’s) problem at this point,” Mayor Christine Maefsky said.

Councilman Chris Ness agreed.

“I guess I see the need for it, but are we setting a precedent for spending money (to satisfy) five or six people?” Ness said.

City Administrator Ken Cammilleri said the Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District had tentatively agreed to provide $10,000 toward the temporary project.

Levy set

The council set its maximum local tax levy for 2021 at $2,613,824, an increase of $183,878, or 7.57%, over 2020.

That amount may decrease, but cannot increase, before the city’s final budget is approved in December.

“I see no reason to go any higher than this,” Ness said. “In fact, I will have some recommendations to lower this. We can live with this for tonight.”

The city’s local tax levy increased by 7 percent from 2019 to 2020.

The council also set its Truth In Taxation hearing for Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m.

Other business:

• As recommended by the Scandia Parks & Recreation Committee, the council cancelled Vinterfest 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

• The council accepted a proposal from Scandia Fire Chief Mike Hinz to allow him to work remotely. Hinz told the council he already does most of the job’s administrative duties online and he trusts the existing fire department leadership to handle calls in his physical absence. Hinz, who is semi-retired, has purchased a seasonal home in Florida and plans to spend more of his time there.

• The council hired firefighter Ben Horner at a wage of $10.33 per hour. Horner moved into Scandia recently and already has his EMT certification.  

• The council agreed to accept 3.1 acres of tax forfeited land for a future park. The land is located off Orwell Avenue, north of Hay Lake.  

• The council accepted a proposal from Ehlers & Associations to create a long-term financial plan for the city. The plan will cost the city no more than $15,000.

• The council proclaimed Oct. 5 to be Scandia Cinnamon Bun Day. The third annual event features a group of volunteers handing out free cinnamon buns to morning commuters passing through the intersection of Olinda Trail and Oakhill Road N. The council approved a small stipend to help fund the goodwill project this year.

The next Scandia City Council meeting will be held Oct. 7 at 6:30 p.m.

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