By Jennifer Gallus
HOWARD LAKE, MN - The Howard Lake City Council spent some time discussing proposed city-wide infrastructure improvements during Tuesday’s council meeting.
This is the same capital improvement project that was discussed in April, but the extent of work to be completed has expanded.
The need for updated infrastructure comes from the fact that currently, inflow and infiltration from broken, cracked, and leaky pipes, along with footing drains that are tied into the sewer system, and incorrectly discharged sump pumps are costing the city an estimated $75,000/year in extra wastewater going through the treatment plant.
The original project discussed with USDA Rural Development program representatives entailed six sections of streets south of Highway 12. The price tag for the infrastructure improvements was estimated at $8.5 million in April, but has decreased to $7.2 million, of which 45 percent of the project total qualifies as grant dollars from Rural Development, leaving the remaining 55 percent as loan dollars through the program.
City Engineer Barry Glienke was asked about other sections of streets that should be considered for the project, which is what was researched and presented Tuesday.
The sanitary sewer along Mallard Pass Lake was identified as a source of additional infiltration. In fact, the piping is currently under water.
“It’s probably where a lot of our infiltration is coming from,” Glienke said.
The council discussed whether to add additional lining to the Mallard Pass sewer pipe or whether complete reconstruction was a better option. Additional lining would cost $1 million, while complete reconstruction of most of the line and lining other parts of the line, would cost $1.4 million. The council decided complete reconstruction was the better option.
A quadrant of streets northwest of town was identified as needing infrastructure updates, and the additional cost to the project of that work was estimated at $2.5 million.
The total cost of the project with the additional sections of work adds up to $11.1 million, or a yearly debt service of $298,000.
The interest rate on the loan portion of the project is 3.75 percent over 40 years, which would total $12 million if taken out the entire length of the loan.
“It’s like zero percent money over the 40 years,” Glienke said.
“In the short term,” City Administrator Kelly Hinnenkamp said, “it’s a large commitment to make, but in the long run, people will be glad we did it.”
Council Member Tom Kutz said, “I think it’s something we’ve been working towards for awhile.”
Council Member Pete Zimmerman added, “And the money is not always going to be available.”
“You guys are ahead of the curve,” Glienke said. “A lot of cities haven’t acknowledged work that needs to get done.”
At the end of the discussion, the council authorized Glienke to complete the preliminary engineering report and expand the scope of the project to include the reconstruction of the Mallard Pass line, as well as the additional work on the northwest quadrant of town.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• agreed to allow the police department to enter into an agreement with the Buffalo Police Department for electronic storage needs.
The Howard Lake Police Department will store data on Buffalo’s network at a cost of $15 per month.
• decided to treat the ash, birch, oak, and maple trees in Memorial Park and Lions Park for disease and insect prevention at a cost of $2,544. Tri-County Tree Service will perform the work.