9/26/2013 4:28:00 PM Lindstrom meeting visited by school administrators
by DENISE MARTIN
Chisago Lakes inter-school and transportation system communications will be enhanced with the city council’s approval of an agreement last week, to allow antennae space atop the Lindstrom water tower. Superintendent Joe Thimm and district Business Services Director Heidi Miller presented a preliminary agreement leasing tower space for $200 per month. The Lindstrom council voted 4-0, with Joe Wishy absent, in support. Miller said the water tower height is needed to enhance transmission signals, especially over the unique terrain of the Taylors Falls side of the district.
Supt. Thimm also used the opportunity to talk to the council about the upcoming November 5 ballot, when the district is asking for an additional local tax levy for the schools. Chisago Lakes seeks voter-approval for bringing in about $225 per pupil unit or $820,000 total annually. Approval would activate the levy for 10 years. Properties are taxed based on valuation-- for example, a house that is valued for tax purposes at $150,000 will contribute $5.42 per month to support the levy. A $250,000 property will be taxed $9.08 monthly. Agricultural classification parcels contribute using a formula based on the home and one acre of land valuation.
Thimm said it’s not a general election year and this is going to be the only question on the ballot so he’s hoping people will remember to turnout to vote. The polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5 at three precincts: Taylors Falls Community Center (old depot), at the high school and at the Community Center on Hwy. 8 in Chisago City. Two public meetings remain on the referendum informational tour-- at Center City Hall at 6 p.m. October 1 and at Chisago City Hall at 5:30 p.m. October 8. Both sessions precede regular council meeting dates. There will also be info tables at upcoming parent-teacher conferences. IN other matters: the Lindstrom Council heard the aging watermain on Lake Avenue is now a priority replacement.
Three bids were solicited and Dresel gets the nod at $58,160. The work will get going right away. Due to tight right-of-way space in that neighborhood the city got a variance from the Dept. of Health so that the watermain can be reinstalled closer to a sewer line than normally allowed, said Engineer Jon Herdegen. ~ Council member Bill Schlumbohm sr. walked council members through an outline for a city quotes and bids policy. Schlumbohm got the okay to continue to finalize the wording and council will act later.
Issues have been simmering with Lindstrom’s policy that has called for time-consuming gathering of quotes on relatively small projects. Right now staff is doing 30 to 40 contracts for outside services every year, that exceed $1,000 per project value. The city policy calls for five quotes for these. Schlumbohm said for one thing the city has stricter guidelines than state law requires and it can take hours to collect quotes for these services. He said if the policy is clarified and simplified for minor projects, things may run more smoothly.
“The object is to make this more workable and stay within state statutes,” he added. Projects estimated between $10,000 to $25,000 would need two quotes minimum and then up $50,000 would get three quotes at least. Projects expected to be more than $50,000 the city would prefer competitive bidding. Less than $10,000 the policy would have staff “leave it up to the open market,” council was told, as long as the bill for the work is within the department’s budget. Council member Curt Flug noted hiring of outside skills and equipment (public works needs mainly) has been “...pushed around by council for years” and he was happy to motion that the policy be finalized into a form city staff can realistically and effectively follow.
Schlumbohm said council will probably see the final wording by the end of the year, to become effective in 2014. Everybody is reminded of the highway ribbon-cutting and dedication of a trio of statues created for downtown Lindstrom, on Saturday, October 5. There’s lunch in Memorial Park (by the veterans memorial) and the statue ceremony is at 1 p.m. The council was advised that staff is still working with the DNR on issues having to do with the new bridge on Hwy 8 (North Lindstrom Lake to South Lindstrom Lake) and the siltation along its channel. City staff is trying to set up a date that the regional hydrologist can attend a city council session to review concerns. Council has expressed a preference for hardscape to be installed along that channel to hold back what’s been pretty persistent erosion.