Cologne City Council members OK 2014 budget

by ADAM GRUENEWALD
NYA Times

Cologne City Council members approved a 2014 budget while also considering a key water main project on Monday, Dec. 16.
The total tax levy $986,629 reflects no changes for the preliminary levy which was set in September.
The general fund budget includes $1,081,621.29 in both expenses and revenue. Also in the budget are enterprise funds, including the water fund with revenues of $345,939.75 and expenses of $438,966.01, the sewer fund with revenues of $358,421.50 and expenses of $452,415.79 and storm water fund with revenues of $20,000 and expenses of $881.29.
City Administrator John Hendel said the budget, which has been adjusted per council recommendations, will then be submitted to the county.
“There was no indication through all of workshops that the council wanted to drop the tax levy by any amount,” said Hendel.
Council members also heard from Jake Saulsbury of Bolton and Menk regarding Public Facilities Authority loan for a sewer repair project.
As reported previously, there are two main issues that would be resolved by the project with an estimated cost of $560,000 and anticipated construction as early as July 2014.
One is concerning essentially two separate systems and the other is an aging water main.
A new main would be larger and also connect with the County 36 water main line, which would be replaced up to Paul Avenue, creating two connections.
The other facet of the project is the replacement of an older main along Lake Street that is wearing out and has had four water main breaks in the last four years.
The project is being brought up again because, unlike in the past, it now qualifies for state-funded Public Facilities Authority financing, giving the city a better benefit in terms of loan interest payments at under 2 percent, or as low as 1.75 percent, well below a standard bond. The PFA could save the city as much as $100,000 over a 20-year loan,
Saulsbury reminded council members that the odds of receiving this type of loan for the project in the future is slim and encourage council members to move forward with planning.
“It’s been seven years since the funding amount this low has been funded,” he reminded the council. “It’s not a common occurrence.”
Council members approved to have Bolton and Menk complete the final design of the project.
“We would like to get moving soon primarily because there are a couple of issues,” said Saulsbury, highlighting MN Department of Transportation concerns with a railroad and portions of the project being outside the city limits. “Due to those things we would like to get moving soon.”
Hendel added the council will start paying $32,000 a year in 2015 and could use a levy for that or absorb those funds because the old PFA loan the city has will expire.
In other news, council members discussed several rental and service fee changes for the city’s community center spaces and fitness center.
Among the changes considered were adjusting building permits for basement projects, creating single-use fees for the fitness center, increasing the cost of rental fees for Louis Hall, the conference room and community room.
They also approved a subdivision of an outlot, agreed to continue wastewater treatment advising with the City of Watertown and set a meeting and holiday schedule for 2014.
The Cologne Council will next meet on Monday, Jan. 6.

Contact Adam Gruenewald at adam.gruenewald@ecm-inc.com.

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