Service lines off the city water main in an estimated 62 to 65 homes in Moose Lake are reported as being too high. Frozen water lines, due to a deeper frost level in the street than in lawns and at the curb stops of these locations have been reported seasonally. Many users have been running water in the colder months to prevent frozen pipes. Creating a program to systematically fix these lines, which are city portions of the pipes. The discussion began with two properties on Newberry, which consistently freeze and are raised as concerns by the property owners. An estimate for repairs for both properties was presented to the council with a cost of $9,000.
This will in the future be created as a line item in the waterfund, with overages being covered by the sales tax funds collected by the city. An estimated cost per year that was mentioned at the meeting was budgeting $10,000 a year. Adding these repairs to any future street projects in these areas was also mentioned. Repairs will alleviate hassle, but be a slow process.
A 20% rate increase was proposed for Moose Lake city water rates. This increase was based on the water rate study conducted by the city. Along with this rate increase a 3% sewer rate increase was suggested. These increases would work to balance the budget for these city accounts. The city will also begin looking into the way that lawn watering is billed. Users that water lawns are currently charged sewer rates along with water rates. Taking an average of the months of June, July and August was suggested by the council for sewer rates, as water used on lawns does not return through the city sewer system the same way.
A preliminary levy increase of 2% was approved by the Moose Lake City Council. Final budget approval in December can be no higher than this preliminary 2%. City Administrator Katie Bloom is recommending and predicting that there will be no actual increase. This preliminary number was set above the prediction to ensure coverage if any issues arise. During the discussion, Bloom reminded those listening that in 2021 the hospital tax levy will drop off, meaning taxpayers will no longer see this included.
Lightening caused a shortage in the mixers at the city sewer ponds. A quote for repairs was provided and approved by the council. Long term protection from serges as well as the cost for insuring the ponds are being explored. Bloom told the council that it was common for cities not to insure their sewer ponds because it was cost prohibitive. Repairs at the ponds are always expensive according to both Bloom and Phil Etner Moose Lake Public Works Superintendent reported.
An update on the estimated budget for the Soo Line Trail Reconstruction project that the city of Moose Lake applied and won a grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources local trails program was provided to the council. The project cost has increased by $40,000 bringing the total to $199,183.45.
The grant requires a $50,000 match from the city. Increases in the ditch, grade and drainage plans were the cause of the increased cost. With a goal of being completed by the next MS150 bike ride, the council wants to avoid the need to reroute the number of riders for that event through town. The council approved the budget in order to put the project out for bids.
Final bid approval will need to go through the council as well as a release of funds from the DNR.