Wednesday, April 23, 2014

City buildings will be more energy efficient

The procedure of paying for major energy upgrades at city buildings in Alexandria rolled ahead Monday night. The Alexandria City Council unanimously voted to release as much as $650,000 in basic obligation (GO) capital improvement plan bonds to assist pay for energy saving jobs at Runestone Community Center (RCC), City Hall and structures that house city departments, consisting of streets, parks, authorities and fire.

The work includes sealing walls, doors, ceilings and windows, along with adding more efficient LED lighting, fans and other energy system upgrades.

At the RCC, for example, both roofs are leaking and its refrigeration system depends on Freon that will be prohibited by the EPA in 2020.

City Hall played an old boiler system that was installed in the mid-1960s. The city has actually needed to repair the system and it might fail entirely at any time.

Consistent upkeep is needed to keep City Hall cooling and heating at comfy levels, City Administrator Marty Schultz kept in mind in a memo to the council.

In addition to the GO bonds, the city prepares to issue tax reduction bonds that will cover the bulk of the costs for the Guaranteed Energy Savings Project (GESP) a $5.6 million strategy that the council licensed on April 11.

The city plans to authorize the bonds, in addition to street job bonds, at its June 27 meeting.

The GO capital improvement bonds go through a 30-day reverse referendum that permits homeowners to submit a petition against the bonds. The last time the city released this type of bonds was for building the new police station.

Prior to the bonds can be issued, the state requires cities to authorize a five-year capital enhancement plan.

The council approved a strategy that calls for improvements for a vast range of projects. For parks and leisure, for instance, the city plans to use capital enhancement funds in 2016 to help spend for redesigns at Knute Nelson Field, toilets at Big Ole Central Park and a playground at Carter Park.

A public hearing was held before the council voted to pursue the GO bonds. A single person spoke, Don Klein of Ward 1, who stated he appreciated the council's commitment to upgrading its infrastructure however cautioned against the city releasing 30-year bonds to finance lighting tasks. He recommended the city put more money into street tasks because the expense of asphalt is low today.

Developed by Apex Area Solutions, the objective of the GESP is to leverage the energy and maintenance savings from the projects, over a duration of 14 years, to pay for the expenses. If the tasks cannot meet the energy cost savings Apex anticipates, Apex will comprise the difference.

According to Apex, leveraging the energy savings from the jobs will pay the financial obligation service for five years and save taxpayers nearly $2 million.

The bulk of the $5.6 million GESP, $3.92 million, will happen at the RCC. Besides energy upgrades, the RCC renovation would likewise prepare the building to accommodate a possible growth.

The city likewise prepares making $83,040 worth of enhancements at the airport but chose to use revolving loan funds rather than issue bonds.

UNIQUE EVENT PERMITS

The council issued a special occasion permit for the yearly Vikingland Band Festival on Sunday, June 26. The parade will occur on Broadway from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. More than 10,000 people are expected to participate in.

The council likewise provided a special occasion license for the ALLIES 3 on 3 Basketball Tourney at the Legion Park basketball court on Saturday, June 15 from midday to 4 p.m., pending last approval from the police department. Also, from 4 to 8 p.m., music, food and fellowship will take place in front of the Youth for Christ structure on Eighth Ave. East. About 200 are anticipated to participate in.

ECHO PRESS DAY

The council approved a proclamation proclaiming June 16, 2016 as Echo Press Day.

The general public is invited to a free open house commemorating the 125th anniversary of the newspaper. It will happen Thursday, June 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the newspaper office at 225 Seventh Ave. East. There will food and refreshments.

The proclamation noted that the Echo Press has acted as the public’s eyes and ears at city government meetings and has actually been the official paper for both the city and county for many years.

The newspaper has actually likewise been a defender of First Amendment rights, open conference laws and the general public’s right to understand, the pronouncement kept in mind.

MORE UNEXPECTED MONEY

City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven notified the council that the city is getting $130,198 in federal financing for next year's street jobs. The additional money became available through a new Federal Transportation Act (FAST).

This money is on top of the $743,000 in additional federal funds that the city got after the Minnesota Department of Transportation redistributed funds at the district level, and the $102,800 in federal funds that became available after that.

This brings the total quantity of unforeseen funding to $976,000. The funds will be played for the Walmart Drive reconstruction project and the Birch Ave. overlay.

PARKING AREA REQUEST

The council voted 5-0 to decrease a demand from the brand-new owner of the Old Broadway property for the city to purchase the parking area behind the restaurant.

Jason Mueller, who is opening a Bello Cucina restaurant, wanted the city to buy 2 of the four lots, the area east of the street, for $125,000. He would then donate the remaining 2 lots that make up the parking area, which would be maintained by the city.

The market value of the whole lot is $238,200.

Mueller had actually likewise asked the city to expand the area where parking requirements are not applied so it would include the Old Broadway property. That area is presently between Fourth and Eighth Avenue for one block on either side of Broadway. Companies are not required to provide parking stalls because area because 3 municipal lots are there.

Mueller stated that requiring restaurants to provide personal parking area based on optimum seating capability puts pressure on those businesses through taxes, upkeep and insurance coverage. Council member Todd Jensen, who made the motion versus the request, said it would take property off the tax rolls and just advantage Mueller.

GRANT FOR AIRPORT

The council agreed to apply for state and federal grants that would pay 93 percent of the expenses for a paving task at the airport. The project was estimated to cost almost $2 million but the only quote for the project can be found in much lower at $1.38 million.

The state is examining its airport funding dedications statewide and it’s possible that the state’s share will go down and the city s share will increase. Because of that, the task was bid in separate schedules so the council could determine which parts of the task to award. The grant application doesn’t bind the city to the project. If the city gets the grant, staff will request for permission from the council to sign the grant arrangement and award the quote.

FUND TRANSFER

The council voted to transfer $1.64 million from the general fund to the capital improvement fund. The state suggests cities to have enough unrestricted fund balances to spend for five months or 42 percent of its operating expenditures. At the end of 2015, the city had a fund balance of $5.14 million or 62 percent of its expenditures.

The transfer allows the city to keep the fund balance at 42 percent. Council members Bob Kuhlman and Virgil Batesole voted against the transfer. They wanted to go over how the surplus would be invested and wished to make sure it was directed toward street tasks.

There might soon be a new public washroom in downtown Alexandria.

The Downtown Merchants Association requested the city to check out the possibility of providing the centers about a month ago. City personnel determined there are 7 downtown places with restrooms open to the public and several other businesses that would provide the washrooms to their clients, if asked.

Andy Rassat, the owners of Rapper’s Eatery and Ale, informed the city that it might put a washroom on an empty piece of his property on the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Broadway. The cost of the device, which would be heated, would be in between $65,000 and $100,000. It wouldn't be connected to city water or sewer. Instead, it would use an underground holding tank. The council directed personnel to work with Rassat on a contract, identify more certain expenses and report back to the council.

ZONING REQUESTS

The council provided a conditional use permit to Paul and Kathy Hagestuen, owners of the Carriage House Antiques and Furnishings at 422 Broadway, to enable open and outdoor screen and sales.

Products will be shown in a personal car park straight behind the store.

Several conditions were attached to the authorization. Retractable barricades have to be played, 50 percent of the space should remain for consumer parking and outdoor sales should be staffed. Another license for outdoor display screen and sales was provided to Bernice Hill, owner of Katjana Properties at 415 Fillmore Street, the old KSAX-TV structure. Hill prepares to show auction items at the website.

A number of conditions were likewise connected to this permit. Items are just enabled to be displayed on the day of the sale, outdoor activity should end by 8 p.m., outdoor sales need to be staffed, and retractable barricades utilized. Batesole voted against both permits. He stated he didn't like to see such activities occurring downtown, keeping in mind that the city invested countless dollars to enhance its downtown image and the "helter skelter" appearance of outdoor displays detracts from that.

Kuhlman also voted versus the Carriage House authorization.

In other zoning action, the council authorized a final plat for the Minnerath Addition along the north side of Dakota Street, and approved a 2nd and last reading to annex the Hocum property along Karnis Drive.

CLOSED SESSION

The council closed an area of its meeting to the general public in order to consider the potential resolution of an employee’s payment claim versus the city. State law allows conferences to be closed for attorney-client discussions concerning suits.

NEW WELL FOR ALP

The council accepted a quote of $86,115 from Thein Well Company for a new well for Alexandria Light and Power, along with a $38,620 quote for the associated pipeline building and construction from Ferguson Brothers Excavating. The well will replace a plugged well in ALP's existing well field and was consisted of in ALP's spending plan.

ED ROONEY HONORED

The council acknowledged downtown businessman Ed Rooney for his 35 years of service with the Board of Public Works. He retired from the board at the end of in 2014. He recently got the Community Leader Award from Missouri River Energy Services.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Monday, March 10, 2014