By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN With the year three-fourths over, Winsted is closing in on its 2016 priorities.
Topping the list were upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility and improving the Kingsley Street area both of which have made recent progress.
City Administrator Dan Tienter noted at the Oct. 18 city council meeting that number three, which is to support the construction of a hotel in Winsted, is currently behind schedule, The city is researching potential sites, and will be working to recruit investors.
Fourth on the list was to explore strategies to encourage housing development. This goal is on track, as the city approved construction incentives in July. Construction of two new homes in the Grass Lake Farms Development began this fall.
The fifth priority was to sunset the Downtown Vibrancy Commission and reactivate the Economic Development Authority (EDA). The first part of the goal was accomplished in August, and the city is currently seeking applicants for the EDA. As of Tuesday evening, two applications had been received.
The council listed 10 other priorities for 2016, most of which are on track for third-quarter.
Before the regular meeting, the council reviewed four city funds as part of continued 2017 budget planning.
For the airport fund, no change is planned in hangar rental rates for next year.
“It’s been 18 cents per square foot for at least the last 15 years,” Tienter said, adding that the city may want to look at increasing in the future.
The average hangar size is 48-feet-by-50-feet, so most renters pay about $450 per year. Each renter also pays a flat $200 fee annually.
The council also discussed the cable fund, which is revenue the city receives from cable and internet providers. TDS Telecom and Mediacom have franchises with Winsted, and pay the city 5 percent of their gross revenue each month for the use of city land. This cost is then passed on to the consumer.
For the water fund, a 2 percent increase in rates and the minimum monthly payment is budgeted for 2017. In 2018, Winsted is planning a watertower recoating project.
The sewer fund was the last fund discussed, and Tienter said it’s “probably the most interesting” at this time.
Increases of about 11.25 percent in the rate and monthly minimum are planned until 2021, to help fund improvements to the wastewater treatment facility. The entire cost of the project is $6.8 million, which will be offset with grant funding.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) granted Winsted a permit for the project in April, but a month later the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy appealed the decision, causing a delay in the process. A court hearing is set for Thursday, Nov. 10.
Tienter noted that if there is one “silver lining” in the delays, it is that interest rates have dropped.
At the regular meeting, the council adopted a resolution providing for the issuance and sale of $4,865,000 in general obligation waste disposal bonds, at an interest rate of 2.41 percent.
Budget discussions will continue at a workshop meeting today, Monday, Oct. 24 at noon at city hall.
In other matters, the council authorized Winsted Police Chief Justin Heldt to purchase and have installed security features at Winsted City Hall.
Technical Solutions will provide cameras for city hall at a cost of about $6,000, and cameras for the fire hall and public works building at a cost of $5,600. The fee for panic alarm monitoring will be $14 per month.
A laminated door and shatter-resistant glass for the main level office area will be purchased from Glass Doctor in Clearwater for about $17,800.
The city council began talking about security last October, after an extensive police and fire department drill at city hall.
Last week, city staff conducted a small-scale drill to review evacuation procedures and protocol in case of a bomb threat.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• adopted a resolution approving the final plat for the industrial park expansion.
• established a canvassing board to review the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election results, with the following members: Council Member Bonnie Quast, Council Member George Schulenberg, Tienter, and Clerk/Treasurer Raquel Kirchoff.
• authorized Tienter to execute an agreement with the Winsted Youth Baseball Association to allow for proposed improvements at Barrett and Southview parks.
• heard that the parks master plan is about 80 percent complete. The plan will be released this winter, and the public will have an opportunity to provide feedback.
• heard that the city is exploring community solar garden options.
• heard that a few tax-forfeited parcels are available in Winsted, and the city is working with McLeod County to obtain the land.
• heard that Ron Mills, who has had ongoing drainage issues at his Northgate home, was not contacted with an update on the city’s progress. Tienter apologized, and said his plan had been to contact Mills after the line had been televised, but the contractor has been busy and had to cancel a couple of times. Council Member Tom Ollig asked city staff to give Mills an update via email every two weeks from now on, and told Mills to call him if that doesn’t occur.