7/11/2013 3:40:00 PM North Branch prioritizes 2013 state aid projects
by DENISE MARTIN
North Branch Council minus council member Theresa Furman; approved the state aid projects for this year at the council meeting Monday night. Council heard that the city has an account held at the state containing some $1.6 million in roadwork funding for state aid routes. The city engineer said ordinarily it’s realistic to schedule enough work to use about $500,000 annually. City Engineer Diane Hankee said there’s a limit to how many projects can be slated at any one time due to bid constraints, state plan review and design approvals and city staff time.
On a motion by Council member Trent Jensen the council voted unanimously to adopt the projects list for 2013 as: finish the concrete work on the Hwy. 95 segment with colored concrete (alternate bid will be for non-colored), do Flink Trail phase three and the oddly contoured curve at Marketplace (which concil said they’ve heard complaints about) and do the 378th Street mill and overlay. Council member Kathy Blomquist also suggested Hankee get started on 410th “sooner than later” so by spring 2014 the project could be ready to go. The engineer is also reminded “not to forget” 372nd paving (for next year) which residents there have requested. A transient merchant license was authorized for Kris Grover, of Forest Lake, whose Eco Insulation company wants to send sales associates door-to-door. Grover said the company has a relationship with regional energy providers to utilize energy conservation funding streams and that he has done 2,000 homes for little or no cost directly to homeowners. The “transient” sales team can operate for 30 days under the license. The city’s electronic data and records management firm is going out of business and City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad got the okay to go with I-Works for new computer files set-up and data migration. The cost will be $3,100 initially on the switchover of computer data and $2,600 for the rest of 2013.
State Senator Sean Nienow spent a few minutes updating council on the last legislative session. North Branch should expect about a $20,000 increase in Local Govt. Aid due to formula revisions and the North Branch schools also are slated for an increase in state funding, which can help improve the tax burden of the region but isn’t tied directly to the city levy. Mayor Ron Lindquist and Council members Borchardt and Blomquist stressed the continued need to adjust the property tax system to reduce the share paid by commercial and industrial. In a city like North Branch, the mayor explained, when the housing market valuations decline, it leaves an ever-growing share on non-residential property owners which is not attractive for new development of commercial parcels. Sen Nienow told council during the session recess his staff should meet with city officials and flesh out the issues. The best way to contact him in the interim is by e mail, he added.