Rushford Council agrees to partner with MnDOT for Hwy 30 rebuild

By : 
Scott Bestul

Members of the Rushford City Council took the first steps in participating in an extensive rebuild of STH 30 at their August 26 meeting. The council also approved a business loan for L&L Volkman Auto Body as they move to a new location.

Highway 30 project

During the General Business portion of the agenda, the council reviewed an extensive presentation from Derek Olinger, Bolton & Menk engineer, on a highway reconstruction project for Highway 30. Though work on a mill overlay on the highway in rural areas is supposedly starting soon, work on the highway as it passes through Rushford is not scheduled to start until 2022.

However, Olinger said the council needed to take two important steps for the project to proceed. First, the council needed to approve a resolution that signified a Formal Request to Participate in the project. Second, the council needed to authorize a Letter of Intent that would signify the city’s cooperation with MnDOT in the project.   

Olinger’s presentation also included projected costs of the construction, as well as the cost-sharing arrangements for each phase. Those percentages are as follows:

Surface improvements

• Center 24’ pavement, curb & gutter: 100 percent state

• Parking lane pavement: 90 percent state, 10 percent city.

• Sidewalk improvements: 100 percent state

• Sidewalk extension: 100 percent city.

Street amenities

• Street lighting: 50 percent state, 50 percent city

• Landscaping: 2 percent state, 98 percent city – a separate Landscape Management Grant will be available to the city.

Drainage & Utilities

• Storm sewer: 95 percent state, 5percent city

• Water Main: 100 percent city

• Sanitary sewer: 100 percent city.

Design & Planning

• Design engineering, easements: 100 percent city

Total projected cost of the project is $4,717, 472. The state’s share would be $2,5434,098, while the city would pay $2,174,374. Olinger noted that these percentages are dictated by MnDOT manuals and guidelines.

In a summary of his report Olinger noted that that MnDOT will be letting all bids and administering contracts, and there will be opportunities to review any change orders or pay estimates during construction. The summary stressed the need “to work closely with MnDOT during construction phase to ensure open lines of communication.” The report also noted that, while costs have increased, the city’s estimated share has decreased significantly from anticipated numbers and appear “feasible with goals set in 2017.”

As they discussed the project, council members expressed concern over potential communication issues with MnDOT and the need for public meetings to inform city residents, particularly those whose properties are affected by the project. Olinger noted that there are 65 houses on the street corridor, though less that half will require an easement agreement. After significant discussion, the council voted to pass Resolution 2019-062, approving the formal request to participate in the project, and authorized the Letter of Intent between the MnDOT and the City of Rushford.

Volkman Loan

In other general business matters, the council considered the application for an EDA/RLF loan from L&L Volkman Auto Body, which is planning to buy property on Enterprise Drive and relocate there. The amount of the loan is $120,000 and would include a one-year grace period before payments would begin. The note would feature a 20-year term and 2.5 percent interest. The EDA (Economic Development Authority) reviewed and approved the loan application, which is being underwritten by Minnwest Bank.

City Administrator/EDA Chairman Tony Chladek addressed the council and said, “This is how you like to see a loan application come in. All the information was provided well in advance and everything was complete.” Councilor Benson agreed, noting, “I was pleased to see their numbers are realistic.” In the brief discussion that followed, Councilor O’Donnell wondered why the loan included a one-year grace period that would still accrue interest. Chladek replied, “That time period allows them to generate business in the new location and get established.” Councilor Benson agreed and said, “They also have another loan to pay back, and this gives them a little breathing room.” Clerk Zacher noted that the city “had granted similar loans with grace periods to other businesses and they had worked well.” The council voted unanimously to grant the EDA/RLF loan to L&L Volkman Auto Body.

Fire Department contract renewals

Rushford Fire Chief Chad Rasmussen appeared before the council to present information on service contract renewals between the fire department and area townships and cities. Rasmussen had met with elected officials from five townships in Fillmore County (Arendahl, Norway, Preble, City of Peterson, and the City of Rushford Village), two from Houston (Money Creek and Yucatan) and three in Winona (Fremont, Hart and Wiscoy). According to a report submitted to the council by Rasmussen, “At this meeting it was decided to renew a two-year contract with a .0165 rate for contract year 2020 and 2021 (mill rate times the tax capacity of the areas covered), generating a total of $79,637.48 each year. The mill rate percentage has remained the same, but it should be noted the tax capacity of every township/city has increased since contracts were last configured in 2017.”

Rasmussen’s report noted that costs for replacing equipment are rising and the funds generated by the service contracts would be used for purchasing equipment in a wise and timely manner: “The goal is always to maintain a steady flow of funding...for these expensive purchases, but also to allow townships and cities to budget appropriately and have no big surprises.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the city’s contract with the Rushford Fire Department at the .0165 rate for the years 2020 and 2021.

Other business

The council acknowledged donations totaling $4,435 to be used for expenses the city incurred while hosting the Root River Jams event, held earlier this month. Contributors included: American Legion Post 94 ($100); Rushford Lions ($250); R-P Booster Club ($250); Valley Crest Riders ($250); SMIF/Rushford Community Foundation ($2,985); Stumpy’s Restaurant ($300); The Creamery/Nordic Lanes ($300). Administrator Chladek said that, despite moving The Jimmy’s indoors due to threatening weather, the event was a success.

The council approved a $500 micro-grant to Jessie Street Java for construction of a parklet. Informal discussion revealed that donations have the project quickly approaching the goal of $5,800 needed to start construction, which is anticipated to begin soon.

Schedule

The next meeting of the Rushford City Council will be held Monday, Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. All members of the public are encouraged to attend.