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Cokato plans for wastewater upgrades
July 14, 2017

By Sara Cronk

COKATO, MN – At Monday’s meeting, the Cokato City Council adopted a wastewater treatment facility plan. It was decided to upgrade the current facility to meet new phosphorous limits.

The upgrade will cost an estimated $2 million. However, between various grants, Josh Halvorson, City Engineer, estimates that the cost to the city would be about $1 million.

The city must submit the first grant application by Monday, July 31, begin the environmental review process by August, hear back from the Public Facilities Authority (PFA) about the loan by September, come up with a project design by October, submit plans by March 2018, and complete the project by March 2021. To meet this deadline, the project must begin construction in spring or summer of 2019.

The city had discussed the possibility of a mechanical treatment plant, but it is not affordable.

The council unanimously voted to adopt the plan and authorize the city administrator and mayor to apply for funding.

Legislative update

State Representative Dean Urdahl attended the July meeting to give a legislative update to the council. Following the discussion of the wastewater treatment plan, Urdahl said he was working to get the city of Cokato the grants they needed.

He informed them that during the last session, they passed a substantial bonding bill for $987 million, after it stalled in 2016. Of this, $172 million was for water projects. which is where the grant money will be coming from.

Urdahl expressed that he is advocating for more water and PFA grant money this year, and that he “will try to convince them of the great need you have here.”

He also went over some of the other bills passed during the last session and what he is intending to do in the next session. He specifically stated that Dassel-Cokato Schools will be getting a funding increase of $940,268.

Urdahl and Council Member Paul Boger discussed the possibility of Highway 12 becoming a four-lane road, which Urdahl stated was not in the immediate future, but could happen at some point.

City Administrator Annita Smythe highlighted the fact that Cokato is a part of the Highway 12 safety coalition. They are working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to incorporate more safety features in upcoming road construction projects. Smythe thanked Urdahl for his help with funding.

CSAH 3 water main project

The council decided to replace a water main under CSAH 3 that has broken repeatedly, after Wright County informed them that they had received a grant to do an overlay of the road from County Road 35 to Highway 12.

This project is estimated to cost $160,000 and was not on the city’s capital plan for the next five years, but it is the least expensive opportunity to fix this water main in the near future. As the road is already being replaced, Wright County’s grant will cover any cost associated with the road itself.

Council Member Forrest “Butch” Amundsen expressed concern that the county had not informed the council that they had applied for this grant and as such, there was no money set aside for this project. Smythe responded that by putting off the upcoming water meter project, the council could use that money pay for this. The council authorized the production of plans and specifications for this project.

Separately, it was noted that Urdahl was selected as a League of Minnesota Cities Legislator of Distinction for 2017.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• presented a certificate of recognition posthumously to the family of John Carlson for his years of service as a member of the Police Advisory Commission.

• awarded a certificate of recognition to the Rev. Dan Swanson posthumously for his service as an election judge. His family did not attend the meeting, but will receive the certificate at a later point.

• authorized the purchase of a replacement ambulance at the estimated price of $113,000 to replace an ambulance that has mechanical problems.

• approved the first pay voucher of $213,249 for the new fire/ambulance station, which is approximately 11 percent complete.

• approved a temporary liquor license for the fire department street dance, which is a week later than normal.

• approved a six-month salary increase of 50 cents for Jarod Merges, a public works maintenance worker.

• approved a $5,000 charge for compost cleanup.

• authorized bids for the Trailstone extension and overlay.

• observed that the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) has decided to allow cities with leftover grant money they cannot use to transfer 20 percent back to the state, and keep the remaining 80 percent as general expenditure money for the city. Cokato has $17,000 in economic development authority (EDA) loans. The council will decide whether they wish to use this provision during their 2018 budget meeting.

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