If OK’d, the project could provide some local jobs, since city is looking to favor a general contractor that would hire local subcontractors
By Lynda Jensen
COKATO, MN Taking another step toward building a newly expanded public safety building, the Cokato council set an amount and discussed tentative special bond election dates last Monday for the project.
The vote on the new fire hall could be as early as May 19, although a specific date wasn’t locked in.
The council was intent on securing a general contractor that would secure the most local work possible for the project, if it is approved.
The project amount was increased to $2.2 million to reflect realistic estimates, upon the concerns expressed by Council Member Butch Amundsen.
Amundsen expressed doubts about the accuracy of the construction budget previously quoted by consultant RJ Marco, which he said didn’t included basic costs such as engineering fees, permits and legal fees associated with the project.
Things such as automatic door openers for the overhead doors, and concrete drive entrance aprons were listed by RJ Marco as being “alternate” items in its construction budget, Amundsen noted.
Clerk Peg Carlson confirmed that the engineering and legal costs were not part of the estimate, and said she came up with a working estimate herself of $2,215,000.
Council Member Wayne Murphy said that the city wouldn’t charge itself a permit.
“We have to pay the building inspector,” Carlson answered.
Murphy said the bond vote is basically asking how much the city could go into debt on whether to build. The figures so far are just estimates, and RJ Marco will probably do well with the bidding process, he said. An overage would come out of the general fund.
Amundsen disagreed, pointing out the substantial cuts to local government aid (LGA) that the city is looking at. “Where is the money going to come from?” he asked.
“We need to think of everything,” Amundsen said. “We’re not going to have money to throw into it. We’re going to have to cut like the dickens this year and next year, both.”
RJ Marco could save money in the bidding process and was the choice of the committee, Murphy said.
Amundsen expressed serious doubts about the bidding process being followed, wanting to follow the traditional bidding process (which hasn’t taken place yet) over a request for proposal arrangment. He questioned the legality of the process.
Fire Chief Mike Holmquist noted that contracts could be bid out locally with RJ Marco. “Far and away they gave us more flexbility for working with local contractors,” Kurt Dahlin said.
Following discussion, the council approved asking for not more than $2.2 million for a building bond toward a newly expanded public safety building. The project will be forwarded to the city’s attorney and bond attorney, which should havit it back by March.
The next phase is to settle on a final site choice. Currently, there are two top sites:
• a site along Highway 12 and Third St. East. This location is the former Chicken Shack site (also known as the former Dave’s Auto site), and what is now Excel Concrete. The parcel is owned by Reed and Emily Carlson.
• The Keskey property located at First and Century. The land is owned by Design and Fabricating, Sue Keskey said.
City will lose big bucks in LGA for 2009, 2010
The council received an estimate from the League of Minnesota Cities that Cokato will lose $73,735 in 2009, and $153,971 in 2010 in LGA. The city will also lose a scheduled increase for 2010.
The city is not scheduled to lose any market value homestead credit.
City subsidizes water bill for food shelf
Turning to other matters, the council approved a monthly water bill credit to the Cokato Food Shelf of up to $60. This is an annual arrangement, which must be renewed every year by the council.
Research done by Murphy showed that government entities can appropriate public funds specifically to entities that distribute food to the needy.
The food shelf has seen its use skyrocket over the recent past.
Odds and ends
In other subjects, the council:
• noted that a clear title couldn’t be established for the four lots behind the Reed Carlson property along Millard Ave. The city offered Carlson a quit claim deed, but he needed a clear title, which could
Water rates to be discussed Feb. 23
The council set a workshop meeting to discuss utility rates 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23.
The city is looking to raise its rates, with numbers that may hit mid to heavy users.
Among other things, the DNR is mandating to have the city set its rates in order to conserve water, which may prompt an increase, based on the idea “the more you use, the more you pay,” Carlson reported.