Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Proposed economic stimulus has cities crossing their fingers

February 9, 2009

Delano School District also hoping to see a piece of the pie

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

DELANO, MN – With talks of a federal economic stimulus package, cities are making their wish lists in hopes they will eventually get to see some of the money from the estimated $800 billion package proposal.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, included in the House of Representatives legislation “are a combination of government spending and tax cuts aimed at disrupting rising unemployment and jump-starting the economy.

“Specifically, the bill contains funding for ‘ready-to-go’ infrastructure projects including transportation, energy, environment, and schools,” according to the web site.

In order to get a rough estimate of just how much Minnesota cities might be needing for potential projects, the League of Minnesota Cities sent out a survey, according to Rachel Walker, manager of policy for the League of Minnesota Cities.

The surveys were a way to help the National League of Cities determine the need and the kinds of projects, as well as the number of projects from each city.

The City of Delano has submitted three major projects to the league including a $5 million industrial park located northwest of the Delano theatre, according to City Administrator Phil Kern.

The project would consist of sewer, water, and roads on a 300-acre lot.

Another project on the list is the Bridge Avenue reconstruction project for an estimated $600,000. This project consists of the reconstructing the entrance to Delano along Bridge Avenue from Highway 12 to River Street. This would include sewer, water, storm sewer, road, and sidewalk.

The third project request is a $1.4 million flood wall in downtown Delano. This would be a flood protection system from the river in the downtown area.

On the federal level, the league is lobbying congress so that a portion of the stimulus money will go directly to the cities as opposed to flowing through the state.

The City of Montrose also has its own wish list. On it is a $500,000 water tower, two sewer replacements for $750,000 for Emerson Avenue North and Garfield Avenue South, and a sewer lining project for $500,000.

The city is also working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to improve the intersection of Highway 12 and Clementa for $2 million, according to Barb Swanson, city administrator.

The city would also like to bury all the power lines on Highway 12, but is unsure if the possible stimulus dollars will cover this type of project.

“The list is as long as you want to make it,” Swanson said, “but we’ll see what the reality is.”

Loretto’s city clerk, Cindy Patnode explained three projects the city is currently saving money for.

The first project is a sanitary sewer line under Hennepin County Road 19 for an $13,600 (2007 prices used). The second project is a sanitary sewer line east of Hennepin County Road 19 with a dip in it that is estimated to cost $28,000.

The third project is for inflow and infiltration in the city sealing 42 manhole covers at the cost of about $1,000 a piece.

$200 billion to schools

Also included in the estimated $800 billion recovery is almost $200 billion in funding for education, according Daniel Domenech of the American Association of School Administrators.

If the bill passes in the Senate, the Delano School District is anticipating to see $63,000 for construction and $470,000 for special education over two years, according to Superintendent John Sweet.

“I don’t know what strings come attached with that,” Sweet said regarding special education requirements.

If the district can utilize the special education dollars to offset the cost for special education that would help, Sweet said.

Otherwise, it might require the district to expand special education programs within the district which wouldn’t help the budget deficit, Sweet explained.

“We’re looking for assistance with budgetary problems,” Sweet said.

As far at the money the district may receive for construction, the amount won’t go a long way.

“There isn’t much you can do with that,” Sweet said regarding the estimated $63,000 for construction projects.

Sweet expects to know more in a couple of weeks.


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