4/11/2013 12:33:00 PM Feasible? Yes. Council moving
by DENISE MARTIN
Wyoming Council members voted 4-1 to accept engineering feasibility studies detailing nearly $4 million worth of infrastructure improvements, and the motion also ordered specifications and bid packages be developed to do the work.
The council did not schedule a date for a public hearing yet. Council member Linda Nanko-Yeager opposed the motion saying she had concerns with the proposed financing tools and with the risks. A “partial assessment” instead of full city financing (for the streetwork especially) would eliminate the possibility of a reverse referendum request on bonding. Citizens using a reverse referendum could halt the whole package, she remarked. Nanko-Yeager asked if any other council members had concerns about loading debt on top of debt or “layering” as the city administrator described it.
“I don’t find the risk acceptable,” she stated. Administrator Craig Mattson said state laws place restrictions on allowable percentage of debt as a portion of city revenues; so in Minnesota there aren’t instances where municipalities go bankrupt because these statutory guidelines are in place. He explained the city budget dictates how much the city can afford to set aside for debt service. Nanko-Yeager said raising taxes for more revenue might be an outcome she wouldn’t support. Mattson added that there’ll be revenues from sewer/water bills for that portion of the infrastructure improvements. Mattson told Nanko-Yeager he would not recommend using cash balances for projects where there’s other ways to pay for work done. He reminded council that Wyoming is also looking at a new water tower (not part of this 2013 Improvements Plan) and he didn’t recommend to tap into the city accounts at this time.
City Engineer Mark Erichson, Mattson and legal counsel are meeting with public sector financial advisors Springsted and Associates to bring a recommended financing package the council will see later. Erichson said he got “a lot of really good feedback from residents” who were notified of projects affecting their properties. The goal is to have bids ready to award in June. In a nutshell, Wyoming is embarking on lots of deferred street maintenance and utilities work. The projects will grind off deteriorating top asphalt layers and pulverize the material, put it back onto the street surface where possible, smooth the roadbed, making drainage (crown) adjustments, etc. The streets being done include: 266, 267, 268, 269, 270th Streets; Felton Ave., Fenwick Ave., Railroad Blvd.; Finley, Flintwood (Ave., Circle and Lane) Forli, Friesland and Foxboro Avenues, Freeport Court, 261, 263 and 264th Streets, Flint Trail and Flint Court; Galen Dr., Glen Oak Drive. Street or surface improvements come to $2.5 million. Erichson also said six miles of sewer lines were checked with a remote control video camera (televised) and about $500,000 in critical repair was identified for several sites. Lift station work along the wastewater system comes to another $482,000. Hydrants are being added.
At the same time projects are being put in motion, Public Works Supervisor Jason Windingstad is filling two public works positions now and more in the near future. He just got a resignation from 20-plus year Jim Rosengren, who’s retiring, and Chase Cofell left recently. Windingstad said he wants to advertise outside of the department and after discussion, got the okay 5-0. Council member Joe Zerwas asked if a lead position candidate couldn’t be promoted from within. Windingstad said he’s got great guys now, but is looking for perhaps a worker with a broader resume than Wyoming already employs. He’s facing loss of half his workforce due to upcoming retirements, Windingstad continued. Knowledge about city systems, equipment and ability to lead independently will be gaps to be filled quickly. Windingstad said he has qualifications in mind and if someone in-house wants to apply, he’ll be considered-- but it is “critical” he also advertise.
Somebody with fresh ideas, while also holding all the needed licenses and certificates, would be his preference. Windingstad hopes to bring two suitable hirees-- one for Street Lead and a Maintenance I position-- to council for action by the end of May. Council voted 5-0 on a plan presented by Administrative Assistant Nicole Miller to contract for office devices and products from Ricoh. Miller worked out a multi-machine deal for city hall, fire and police offices that upgrades existing equipment, eliminates some redundant older devices, and costs slightly less ($317 per year for all) than what Wyoming currently pays. Legislation (HF 745) supported by the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) is in the state legislature, and LMC asked council to adopt a letter telling local lawmakers Wyoming likes the idea.
The bill would enable cities to create street improvement districts-- like hospital districts, or watershed or lake improvement districts are drawn now. Nanko-Yeager opposed the letter, but it was okayed 4-1. She wanted to wait for final wording of the legislation first. Council members said they are just being asked to support the concept. Mayor Peterson noted districts aren’t mandatory, and it could become “another tool in the toolbox.”