By Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

The Caledonia City Council voted to accept an offer from the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority on Sept. 13, purchasing a G.O. Water Revenue Note totaling $1,286,324. 

The city will pay 1% interest on that note, which (according to the resolution) will be used to pay for “the construction of well house No. 8, associated wellhead improvements, watermain and installation of a natural gas generator.”

Pursuant to the offer, the council also approved a water rate increase. Beginning on July 1, 2022, the fixed monthly charge for the 5/8 and ¾ inch meters which most homes utilize will go from $17.30 to $18.90 (with larger meters seeing increases as well). The variable volumetric charge will increase from $2.40 to $2.50 per 1000 gallons.

A proposal from engineering firm WSB & Associates to supply prevailing wage compliance reports as well as American iron and steel compliance reporting for the well house project was approved, too. The estimated cost of those services is $6,000.

Another vote rescinded a motion passed on August 9th. That’s when the council voted to apply Caledonia’s $291,294 award from the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (American Rescue Plan) to the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) project. Those dollars will remain available for whatever qualified project that members eventually choose to spend them on, including other sewer/water work.

On a related note, city clerk/administrator Adam Swann reported the first portion of the American Rescue Plan award has been received by the City of Caledonia. The amount was $145,657.

In other news, council members voted to hire Michelle Ellingson as their new assistant to the clerk administrator. Jerry Holter was hired as an EMR (emergency medical responder) for the Caledonia Ambulance Department. 

The council also accepted the resignation of Mark Schiltz, who served as assistant ambulance director for the ambulance department, and approved a request form the Caledonia Volunteer Fire Relief Association to amend their bylaws “to increase (the) service pension benefit, disability benefits, and survivor/funeral benefits from $1,200 to $1,300 per year of service.”

Swann also expressed his appreciation for help from Kari Neumann of the Friends of Sprague Woods group, for assisting with a grant application submitted to the Arlin Falck Foundation seeking signage for the park, pay for some goat pasturing (to remove invasive species) next year, and buy benches for the park.

Council members also dug deeply into the developing 2022 budget for the city, reviewing a proposed 6% levy increase for the general fund, as well as looking into the fire fund, EDA fund, and estimated police department hours for the year to come. A preliminary levy must be submitted before the end of September. That amount may be reduced before the final levy is certified at the end of the year, but cannot be increased.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the WWTP was tentatively set for Sept. 27 at 3 p.m. The location will be near 423 S. Hokah Street. The next city council meeting will also occur on that date, at 6 p.m.

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