Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, May 24, 1999

Winsted may wait for curb, gutter repairs, hears auditor's report

By Luis Puga

While a number of projects have been proposed for the city of Winsted, time is running out to fit them into the short Minnesota construction season. The city council heard a presentation concerning proposed curb and gutter repairs around the city last Tuesday at their regular meeting.

The council heard from the engineering firm of Bonestroo, Rosene, Anderlik and Associates. The estimated cost for the project will be about $320,900.

Bonestroo engineer Dan Boyum recommended that the city integrate the project with a proposed seal coating project.

However, by Bonestroo's schedule, accounting for public hearings and bid letting, the project would be finished by November 30. Some of the council thought that might be too late to pour cement, although the engineers said that it could be done.

However, since the seal coating would have to be done next year as well, the option to also do the curb and gutter work next year is also available to the council. The council did proceed with accepting both report for the curb and gutter work and the seal coating project.

They also resolved to begin the process of letting bids and procedures for assessing parts of the cost of the project.

The city would like to assess at least 30 percent of the cost so they would not have to hold a referendum on the issue. The curb and gutter work is easily assessable to property owners, but the council received information from the engineers with some caution that assessing the seal coating could be done.

The council also discussed the watermain project proposed in a previous meeting. They agreed to scale back the project, excluding parts that weren't necessarily vital. Part of the project would enhance watermains near a proposed school site. Reeves added that if the school location did not materialize, the enhancement would also benefit fire flow throughout the city.

The plans for the watermain work were drawn up by the city's usual engineer RCM/SEH. In recent meetings, the council has expressed dissatisfaction with the firm's work. The change in engineers did not go unnoticed.

Doug Parrot, manager of RCM/SEH's Gaylord office, spoke with the council at the beginning of the meeting asking them to consider the long relationship they have had with RCM/SEH. He said that the firm was proud to be the city's engineer for the past 38 years and they would listen to the council's concerns over recent work.

Auditor's report

Paul Harvego presented the 1998 audit report to the council. In general, he said the city's finances were in good condition.

He did warn the council on overspending from the general fund saying that a city of Winsted's size should have about $400,000 in the fund.

As it stands, the fund is at $378,688.

In the fire fund, he noted donations were down, but other funds were in good shape.

Harvego added that because of the city's small staff in accounting, the report indicated that it's procedures were "weak." Harvego had no specific problem, but said that such a small staff makes control of accounts difficult.

The city is investing $2,495 in a software program that would organize some accounting work, which Harvego thought was a good idea.

Other business . . .

­ Jack Litfin submitted a petition for his business property to be annexed into the city. The council said that it had to research information on whether any assessments would be made to the business due to past city improvements in the area.

Litfin noted that all of the properties in question had been in the township and also said that none of his buildings are hooked up to city services.

­ The city discussed the difference between bonding and borrowing money from a bank for city projects.

The comparison was made between a 20 year bond and a 10 year loan. Reeves said he would research the matter and have a comparison ready the same time period for each option.

­ Land near Kubasch Excavation will be landscaped for no more than $500. The land abuts a city park and the city will only have to provide seed and labor. The soil will be provided by the business owner's. The poor landscaping is due to some past landscaping work done on the park.

Concern was also expressed as to whether Mike Fiecke had his land repaired. Fiecke's land had also been damaged in past work, but has yet to be repaired. Reeves said he would look into the matter.

­ New signs will designate the names of city parks. A request was made by Little League parents who could not tell if they were at the right park for their children's games or practices. The signs cost $329 each.

­ Reeves recommended that the council hire an attorney to reach a compromise with SJF Enterprises concerning annexation. The city had been in a lawsuit with the company due to a zoning issue last year.

He said any attempts to annex again would probably result in the city being sued again. The cost for the legal work would be $120/hour.

Some council members felt they would like an estimation of how long the legal work would take.

Reeves said that the matter has been pending for some time and has to be resolved. He added that the sooner the matter was finished, the sooner benefits to both the city and company would come about. The council decided to have an estimation before they would resolve to OK the work.

­ The city extended its cable contract for six months. The extension is to accommodate the merger of Triax Cable with MediaCom LLC. The city will then negotiate a new contract with the new company.

­ PeopleService will conduct a study, free of charge, at the city's waste water facility. The study will involve installing trickle filters at the facility.

­ Liquor licenses were granted to Bailey's Tavern and Grill, Tom's Corner Bar, The Blue Note, and Keg's Bar. Licenses were also given to the Legion and the baseball team for their distribution. Casey's has opted not to obtain a license, as it will not sell liquor.

The city also granted a dance license to The Blue Note, but had some concerns about complaints of broken glass outside of Bailey's after dances. The city plans to send a letter to the restaurant.

­ City clerk Betty Zachmann celebrated a birthday this past week on Tuesday. The council extended birthday greetings and joined together in a brief rendition of "Happy Birthday."

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