New Ulm declares State of Emergency

NEW ULM – The City Council declared a State Emergency Tuesday due to June flooding.

Emergency Management Director David Borchert reported that Gov. Mark Dayton declared a State of Emergency for several counties including Brown County.

New Ulm city staff identified two major projects: Reconstruction of failed storm sewer infrastructure on County Highway 13 and reconstruction of failed storm sewer outfall structure and piping adjacent to Milford Street. Preliminary estimate for repairs is $195,000.

Further damage assessments will conducted by Emergency Management and FEMA. “It’s kind of a long process,” said Borchert. “We certainly want to have everything done on our end and try to get everything going quickly.”

Councilor Les Schultz asked if other projects could be added to the list, citing the damage to Garden and Payne streets.

Borchert replied that the assessment process was still open and the two projects currently on the list were the most pressing, but other items could be added. If heavy rains fall in the next few days, other damage could be included in the damage assessment. Borchert was cautious about including private property in the assessment.

“It is certainly something we are documenting and we’re are going to take every effort we can in helping the home owners,” said Borchert.

New Ulm is working with Emergency Management to address home owners’ concerns and to find available resources to help with residential damage.

“We’re trying to capture every resource that is possible,” Borchert said.

During the meeting, the Council approved the proposal from M.R. Paving of $75,067.72 to complete emergency storm sewer repairs on Center Street/Highway 13.

Options for Legal Services

The Council discussed options regarding legal services for the City and Public Utilities.

Council President Charles Schmitz explained that legal service is one of the few services not put out for bids. Schmitz suggested that city staff look into the potential cost of various options.

The law firm of Nierengarten and Hippert has been appointed as city attorney and assistant city attorney for the past 35 years. The City’s options are to retain the Nierengarten and Hippert firm, solicit proposals from other legal firms, or create an in-house attorney position with associated support staff. The City can contract for professional services without a bidding process.

Schmitz said that if the option of seeking proposals were chosen, it would need to be done soon in order be in the 2015 budget.

Councilor Lisa Fischer expressed support for comparing various options every few years.

Councilor Ruth Ann Webster said that continuity is important to consider, suggesting that any City Attorney Contract should be a for multiple years. She added that because this is for a professional service, if the City did request bids, the Council would not need to accept the lowest bid because skills and working relationships are not always comparable.

The Council passed a motion to have the City Manager prepare the analysis prior to the 2015 budgetary process.

TIF Modification Approved

A modification to the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Plan for Redevelopment on the City Center Apartment Projects in the 100 block of South Minnesota Street was approved.

Webster explained that the request fit the plan and there was no reason to deny it. “Basically this is where the City Center Apartments are going to go, and the district is expanding into what people might refer to as the Korenchen House,” she said. “That house is going to be removed. … The house looks like it might be in good shape from the outside, but it has deteriorated quite a bit on the inside.”

Sidewalks

Sidewalk improvements from 20th South to the apartment building across from Hy-Vee were approved.

Some residents asked questions about the sidewalks. City Engineer Steve Koehler explained that property owners would have the option of installing the sidewalks privately or waiting for the City to install them. Koehler gave an estimate of $5 per square foot. Koehler further explained that if the property owner installed the sidewalk, repairs would be their responsibility. If installed by the City, the city would cover repairs for the first 10 years.

Airport Grants

A grant agreement between Mn/DOT Office of Aeronautics was approved to provide Airport Maintenance and Operation funding.

Last year an agreement allowed the State to reimburse the City for two-thirds of the documented routine Airport maintenance costs. This new agreement increased the funding to 75 percent, giving the airport an additional $300,000. A second grant agreement increases State Funding on the Taxiway Reconstruction Project from 0.25 percent to 5.27 percent. This agreement reduces the project from $329,552.12 to $165,368.86.

In other business: The Council:

Amended the City Comprehensive Plan to all industrial land uses in a place of medium/high density residential land use on property south of County State-Aid Highway 29 in the Milford Township.

Authorized a bid for the New Ulm Public Works Building Roof Retrofit Project for $112,560 from Gag Sheet Metal and Roofing.

Awarded a bid from M.R. Paving & Excavating for a $2,686,216 contract for the 2014 MSAS Improvement Project contingent upon approval from Mn/DOT Office of State Aid. The project includes improvements to North Highland Avenue from Highway 14 to State Aid Highway 29.

Approved a sidewalk cafe for The Pantry.

Approved the Minnecon Park Water Access Site plans and specifications.

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