New pavement projects, some big and several small, will be a 2009 theme in Brainerd.
With the downtown Brainerd reconstruction project planned to start this year, the Brainerd City Council on Monday in a 5-1 vote approved an additional $800,000 street and utility reconstruction project on South Eighth Street from Willow to Vine streets, Broadway from Vine to Quince streets and South Eighth from Quince to Oak streets. Voting against was council member Kelly Bevans, who questioned whether the city could add more debt. Council member Lucy Nesheim was absent.
The council on Monday also unanimously approved a city-wide, $390,000 sidewalk replacement project that will be paid through assessments to more than 150 properties.
Public hearings were conducted Monday for both projects.
On sidewalks, one resident questioned whether a sidewalk on his property that goes nowhere would need to be replaced. Another resident wondered if he could get an extension because he planned on renovating the property next year. Both of their requests were referred to the Safety and Public Works Committee's April 6 meeting.
On the street project, several residents posed questions but were in favor of the project. City Engineer Jeff Hulsether relayed several comments he's received, all but one in favor of the project.
In other action, the council:
Presented a summary of conclusions from City Administrator Dan Vogt's March 3 performance evaluation. Council president Kevin Goedker said Vogt met or exceeded expectations in all categories. Goedker said there was no category below expectations, but it was difficult for Vogt to exceed expectations in a few categories with his job duties pulling him in so many directions. The council recommended Vogt make more bold recommendations, get out of his comfort zone and get potentially controversial information to the council sooner. Vogt thanked each council member for their comments.
Was informed by Vogt that the Charter Commission would meet at 4 p.m. on April 1 to discuss the mayor's contingency fund.
Was informed by Vogt that the city's total electric bills were down about $6,000 because of energy saving ideas in city departments.
Was informed by Vogt that sewer flows, which had reached 675 million gallons of wastewater processed in 2006, were reduced to 570 million gallons in 2007 in part to reducing the city's inflow and infiltration problems.
Was informed by Police Chief John Bolduc that the city's crime rate had dropped to its lowest rate in decades. He thanked the council and the community for supporting crime prevention efforts.
Renewed its contract with Brainerd Lakes Development Corp. at $75,000 for 2009. BLADC had requested $77,250, but lowered its request in light of the city's budget crunch. Council member Mary Koep said though she supports the contract she will continue her efforts to have the city hire an economic development official who would work solely for the city.
Renewed a three-year agreement with Matt Mallie to be the city's misdemeanor prosecutor at $216,000 a year, the same price as Mallie's previous contract. The contract covers four staffers, equipment and fees associated with the court system.
Adjourned the Safety and Public Works Committee to 1 p.m. Monday for a meeting with the Brainerd Public Utilities Commission and Main Street Committee to discuss electrical systems in downtown alleys and other lighting issues associated with the downtown street project.
Adjourned the Safety and Public Works Committee to 3:30 p.m. on March 24 at Central Lakes College for a College Drive project management team meeting.
Unanimously approved a resolution opposing a bill being considered by the Legislature that would make city budget proposals, preliminary drafts and other preliminary documents in the process of developing a final city budget classified as nonpublic data. The city also would send its resolution to neighboring cities and to area legislators. "That seemed ridiculous to me," Koep said of the bill. "What have we got to hide? Nothing it seems to me."
Approved proceeding with paperwork to obtain a federal Byrne Grant for $45,469 to hire a police officer.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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