By Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

The Caledonia City Council approved a new electric rate study last week. For $19,500, STAR Energy Services (Alexandria, Minn.), will perform both a cost of service study and rate design plan for the city. “Service charges, demand charges and energy charges may be modified to better align the rates with the power and infrastructure costs.” the company’s proposal states. 

City clerk/administrator Adam Swann said that the City of Caledonia has not had a full rate study performed since 2011. Capturing the costs to the city to hook up and buy power from solar producers is expected to be addressed in the report, he added.

The August 12 meeting also included two public hearings for Ben Steuart, who sought a conditional use permit to have a multi-family residence in a single-family R-2 district, and a setback variance to provide off-street parking for the building.

Located at 216 E. South Street, the building was once used as office space (zoned light commercial). Steuart told council members that he has a single renter utilizing the top floor, and would like to add another rental unit downstairs, which could be further divided in the future, making the structure a triplex. Immediate plans are for a duplex, however.

The council approved the permit, which will be issued once city staff has verify that parking requirements have been met. That includes two parking spaces per unit, with 50% of those in a garage, and the rest in an off-street setting. The variance was denied by consensus after members noted that the applicant has ample room to provide off-street parking.

Members later met with legal counsel via conference call in a closed session to discuss “anticipated litigation involving Neuman Pools, Inc, and the City of Caledonia.” The company has demanded the release of $43,096 in retainage fees that the city has held since the construction of the Caledonia Aquatic Center. At issue are damages that resulted from the initial winterization, Swann reported. That task was part of the list of items that the company was responsible for, and the City of Caledonia contends that it was done improperly, allowing undiluted acid to siphon into stainless steel gutters. Cost estimates to remove and replace the rusted parts are approximately $500,000.

The council discussed releasing the retained fees prior to any legal action (following the closed session), but tabled the matter for further study.

Members also took a tour of the new City of Caledonia website with Carson Coffield, who serves as assistant to the clerk/administrator. “Adam and I have been working on it for at least a couple months,” Coffield reported. The revamped site is now up and running at www.caledoniamn.gov.

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