Blue Earth doesn't like plan

BLUE EARTH – Public Works director Jamie Holland had a nasty surprise for the Blue Earth City Council on Monday: Costs to fix up the Public Works Building came in at double the estimates.

In August, the council agreed to work with CBS Squared and have an architect design some improvements for the building. The cost for the architect’s work was budgeted at $50,000. Project cost was budgeted between $400,000 and $600,000.

“One thing we stressed to them was our budget,” Holland said. “CBS Squared came back with a number that was a long ways from that. It came back in the seven figures. It was high; it was super high.”

The architect’s estimate was $1.1 million, he said.

“I don’t feel comfortable with those numbers,” Holland said. “We’re asking to break the contract.”

The contract requires the architect be given a seven-day notice and be paid for services rendered.

Council members instructed Holland to go back to the architect and clarify the city’s needs for the building.

“One more visit, [tell them] we’ve discussed this with the council; there’s no way this can go forward,” said Councilman John Huisman.

Holland is to report back at the next council meeting.

Re-visiting old business, the council approved the Joint Animal Impound Facilities and Services Agreement.

The agreement is between the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office and the cities of Delavan, Elmore, Winnebago and Blue Earth. The Sheriff’s Office, Delavan and Elmore have committed to the agreement. Winnebago will revisit the issue in April.

Some of the key points are:

o Each entity will have one representative on the board.

o Entities will share in impounding animals and other services. The group will initially rent the Blue Earth pound for $1.

o Costs will be divided based on population.

o The agreement is for one year at a time and includes a six-month notice by May 1 of each year if any entity wishes to get out of it.

o Additional parties may join later, but there may be a fee.

Additionally, city administrator Kathy Bailey said, many decisions will be made by the board, when it is created. This includes approving a budget and whether the Faribault County Humane Society stays involved in caring for the animals.

“I want it on record: the general consensus is we want to continue working with the Humane Society,” said Huisman. “In my opinion, that’s essential.”

Mayor Rick Scholtes appointed Police Chief Tom Fletcher as first representative to the joint board, with Bailey as alternative.

In other business, the council went into closed session for more than an hour to discuss an investigation involving Police Officer Todd Purvis and a possible investigation involving an unnamed Public Works employee.

When the council came out of closed session, it approved conducting an investigation of the Public Works employee and decided to have a special meeting 5 p.m. Monday to continue discussion of the investigation of Purvis.