By Gabe Licht
DELANO, MN With the 2016 street and utility improvement project coming in over budget, the city of Delano is considering reducing the size and cost of the original plan.
In doing so, the Delano City Council is encouraging input from Delano Municipal Utilities, and its governing body, the Delano Water, Light, and Power Commission.
The two entities met in a joint meeting Tuesday to begin the conversation.
City Administrator Phil Kern explained the city had planned for $3 million on streets, but the estimate for the street portion of the project came in at about $4.6 million. In total, the project is estimated to cost about $6.32 million, including about $950,000 in water upgrades, about $540,000 in sanitary sewer upgrades, and about $241,000 in storm sewer upgrades. On top of those numbers, the city also planned to include the $150,000 Elm Avenue project that was completed earlier in the year into the 2016 bond.
In order to keep the project on schedule, the council will be asked to approve a feasibility report and order plans and specifications for the project during its Tuesday, Jan. 5, meeting.
“We don’t want to order plans and specs on parts of the project we don’t want to do,” Kern said. “We want to make decisions on what parts of the project we want to do and what parts we don’t want to do . . . When the utility is seeing a $950,000 water impact, you’ll want to get your arms around, ‘What does that do to water rates?’”
DMU Finance Director Chris Hart said that amount would be included in the bond, and DMU would repay its portion of the bond over 20 years.
Commission chair Jonathan Ness estimated that to cost $55,000 per year.
“We should be able to manage that,” Ness said.
If the council decides not to include certain streets in the project, it would like input from DMU before doing so.
“We went through and ranked our streets,” Councilwoman Holly Schrupp said. “Would it be worth it for you to rank the water part of it so we can go back to the ones we really need to do and make sure they match up?”
“Two technical working committees need to sit down, roll out maps, and put pencil to paper to say what is key to replace,” interim DMU General Manager Paul Twite said.
Foreman Jim Griebel added that DMU staff will be able to evaluate the state of the water lines in question by looking at their repair history.
The Delano Water, Light, and Power Commission will discuss the issue at its Monday, Dec. 21, meeting.
City Engineer Shawn Louwagie noted that, once prioritized streets our identified, the city will be able to have the project bid in a way that will give it options.
“One option is to find a budget number,” Louwagie said. “The project is grouped into three areas. If two areas fit into the budget number better, put them in the base bid and the other in an alternate bid.”
Odds and ends
In other business:
• the council and commission discussed employee compensation and benefits. Kern said the city is planning to give employees a 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment based on federal inflation statistics and will increase its contribution to employees’ benefits packages 10 percent to match the premium increase.
Ness said DMU’s plan is to also give employees a 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment. He noted that the benefit plan is not going to change, saying it is consistent with what DMU has had in the past and with what other utilities have. DMU is also looking at adding a step program, he said.
• the council approved a permit for the Delano Lions to sell raffle tickets for a four-wheeler, with the drawing for the prize taking place during a pancake breakfast Sunday, Feb. 7.