Blue Earth slates hearing

BLUE EARTH – Blue Earth City Council has set a public hearing for Feb. 4 to present the Highland Drive construction option.

The option chosen by the street committee is to make the street 36 feet wide, eliminate the sidewalk and install an 8-foot bike/pedestrian path on the east side, with one parking lane on the right.

Cost is estimated at $900,000.

Wes Brown, city engineer, detailed two other options. One would make the street 36 feet wide, with a 6-inch curb and gutter and two parking lanes for $1 million. The other is a 30-foot wide street with one parking lane and a sidewalk for $900,000.

Brown explained drive-over curbs, noting there is no difference in the cost versus traditional curbs.

On another topic, the council set a public hearing for Feb. 21 to discuss the capital improvement plan bond sale.

The original bonds were issued in 2006 for the public safety building and public works building. The final maturity of the bonds is February 2027.

Reissuing the bonds is like “refinancing your house,” explained city administrator Kathy Bailey.

“Now that interest rates have dropped down so low, we’re hoping to go from 4.7 percent to that around 2 percent range,” she said.

The estimated savings are $149,000.

Deadline for submitting bids for new bonds is Feb. 21, when the council will consider them.

In other action, the council adopted the capital improvement plan as presented by Springsted Inc.

“It provides us with a plan for replacement and upgrade of buildings, equipment and major repairs,” said Bailey, adding it is a five-year plan that can be adjusted as needs change.

In other business:

o The council approved raising the fire call fee from $750, where it has been for two years, to $1,000.

“It’s the amount automatically covered under insurance,” Bailey said. “Costs of fire departments have changed. We’re keeping up with the times.”

o Bailey said the fair board has turned down the city’s land swap offer – unanimously. Under the proposal, the city would give up some land at the fairgrounds in exchange for land near the Green Giant statue. The fair board’s next meeting is the second Monday in February.

o Bailey said no one has applied for the open City Council position. The council has set Feb. 4 to go over the applications.

If no one applies, Mayor Rick Scholtes can appoint someone.