By Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

The Caledonia City Council voted to file paperwork with the Minnesota Department of Revenue in order to access coronavirus relief funds on Monday, July 13. There is $212,761 available for the City of Caledonia from the program, staff reported.

Under the terms of the certification form, the funds can only be used to cover some specific costs. Those include “necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency,” that were not budgeted as of March 27, 2020, for the local unit of government, and “were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 1, 2020...”

Eligible expenditures incurred by the city already total approximately $16,000, with at least $20,000 (or more) likely by the time the funds must be used, council members noted. 

Following the meeting, Caledonia clerk/administrator Adam Swann confirmed the guidelines could include economic support to the community, such as business assistance or providing help to organizations which assist those in need - such as food banks – which are helping more persons than usual due to the pandemic. 

The City of Caledonia has until Nov. 15 to utilize the funds. Unused monies would first go to Houston County, which would have a very limited amount of time to spend those dollars (by Dec. 1, according to county staff) before returning them to the State of Minnesota.

The council also discussed filling a sixth full-time police officer position with several members of the department. There was no vote on the matter, but council members did reach a consensus to continue to hire some part-time help to fill out scheduled shifts. 

Savings from doing so will be earmarked towards the purchase of a new replacement vehicle for the police department.

A single consent agenda vote early on carried some weight, approving several important items.

First, the City of Caledonia formally accepted a 20-year low-interest (one percent) loan offer from the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority (PFA). 

The $333,149 general obligation water revenue note will be used in the construction of well No. 8. Drilling the well will begin later than originally expected, but is anticipated to kick into gear in late July.

The council also submitted an application to the PFA for a point source implementation grant to help build a new wastewater treatment facility. 

The maximum award from that program could be up to $7 million dollars, but receiving around half that amount is more likely, according to experts (see the March 4 city council report, Caledonia Argus).

The council also voted to negotiate with Waters Edge Aquatic Design (Lenexa, Kansas) for “professional services” related to a project at the Caledonia Aquatic Center. That facility now needs to have stainless steel gutter replaced, which is likely to be a substantial undertaking.

A $13,052 quote from Fahrner Asphalt Sealers to clean out and fill cracks on city streets was also accepted. That job will require about 5,200 lbs. of rubberized sealant.

The council approved a pair of license agreements for property owners who were found to have structures encroaching on city land recently purchased to build a new wastewater treatment plant, water retention pond, and city park. 

Logan and Bridget Thiele will have up to six years to remove a storage shed, while Wylie Steele will be able to utilize another shed for the same period of time. If the properties are sold, the agreements become void.  

Finally, with elections looming, the council approved the purchase of 11 new voting booths at a cost of $1,730.

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