Coming in under budget is a good problem to have.
The Scandia City Council last week awarded a $602,418 contract to North Valley Inc., to complete the city’s 2021 road reconstruction work, repaving 220th Street North and Peabody Trail, and installing speed limit signs with solar powered speed indicators.
“We timed it very well,” City Engineer Ryan Goodman said, noting that the bid opening is one of the earliest of the year in the area, which contributed to the lower bids.
The city had budgeted $845,000 for the work, leaving the council members to debate what to do with the $243,000 surplus.
Goodman proposed using the low bid rates and a portion of the surplus to improve a segment of nearby Pomroy Avenue. Saving the money for 2022 or doing part of Pomroy this year, Goodman said, would give the city a head start on what “will likely be our most challenging project to date.”
But councilwoman Patti Ray pitched another idea.
Ray asked the council to delay earmarking the surplus and let the city’s Internet Action Committee consider another use for it at its April 7 meeting.
“We could invest this in the digital highway,” she said.
City Administrator Ken Cammilleri noted that the city had already earmarked $85,000 for matching grant funding for internet expansion in 2021.
“But I do encourage you to not forget about roads,” he said.
With the city currently in negotiations with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on renewing its permit for the Bliss sewer system, Goodman said the city is going to have to commit to a financial plan for overhauling or replacing the system.
“It’s not going to be a cheap fix to deal with the nitrate issue we have out there,” Goodman said.
MPCA is likely to require a new monitoring well at minimum, at a cost of $7,500 to $20,000. More likely it will mean a complete upgrade of the system costing nearly $1 million.
Cammilleri said the city will have to consider all its options for funding the work, including user assessments and seeking a bond from the state.
“A combination of assessments and financing (will) make this work,” he said.
But Cammilleri pushed for allowing the city’s financial consultant to complete its analysis before making any final decisions.
Comprised of users of the city’s septic systems, the Wastewater Committee members have been reluctant to raise rates on themselves for decades. Only in 2017 did the city begin increasing usage rates to plan for the project. The city’s Anderson-Erickson and Uptown systems are also in need of expansion and repairs.
Councilman Steve Kronmiller noted that the Bliss septic system has been “a problem waiting to blow up for 30 years.”
• The council granted Tiller Corporation an annual operator’s permit to continue operating its Scandia Mine. City Planner Evan Monson noted the mine continues to meet or exceed its operational and environmental requirements.
• The council approved the vacation of a portion of Second Street in the Vasa neighborhood, preserving a portion of the unopened street as a turnaround/staging area for emergency vehicles and for access to maintain culverts in the area.
• The council approved $1,750 in city support for the Scandia’s 1,000 Acts of Kindness Project by a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Jerry Cusick voting against.
• The council approved the appointments of Travis Loeffler as chair, and Jan Hogle as vice chair, of the Scandia Planning Commission.
The next Scandia City Council meeting will be held April 7 at 6:30 p.m.