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Resolutions to help secure hydro dam, project financing

Two resolutions approved Monday will help secure financing for the purchase of the Wausau dam and future projects at the facility.

The resolutions were approved by the Brainerd City Council at its meeting Monday.

Voting against both was council member Mary Koep.

The first resolution is an official intent of the city to reimburse certain expenses from the proceeds of bonds to be issued by the city related to the dam.

The second resolution is an official intent of the city to reimburse certain expenses from the proceeds of bonds to be issued by the city related to water system improvements.

The move doesn't issue debt. That will come before the council at a later date.

The dam will be purchased later this week, said City Administrator Patrick Wussow.

The council's move Monday is part of the process to secure financing for the hydro dam and water projects that Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) will complete in the next few months.

The resolutions are similar to what the city does when there's a street improvement, said Connie Hillman, finance director for the city.

In having a reimbursement resolution in place, the city is able to reimburse itself from the bond processed for expenses until financing is secured, she said.

The council also approved a two-year contract and authorized signatures to bring on the five hydro dam employees as city workers.

It's "very similar" to what other city employees receive, Wussow said.

The significant difference is that each dam employee works a 12-hour shift instead of the regular eight.

The dam employees will also teach BPU officials information about the dam.

Koep questioned the number of dam employees being brought on to the city, saying that she remembers four employees being estimated, and with anticipated automation, leading to two employees being needed.

"That clearly is an increased cost," she said.

Automation at the dam is still in the works, Wussow said.

At least one of the dam employees is at the edge of retirement, he said.

In other city council news:

Held the final reading for an ordinance change that defines and clarifies how extended stay motels and hotels are permitted in the city. The establishment must notify the city before becoming an extended stay facility and also make records available upon request to the city.

Approved a $28,172 quote from Anderson Brothers for pavement patch work in about 10 locations throughout the city.

Approved the current practice of hosting birthday parties at the Brainerd Fire Department. The department requested guidance from the League of Minnesota Cities regarding the practice to determine if there are concerns. The organization suggested the council officially approve the program.

Held a public hearing to gain input on the proposed extension of the period for job creation for a BTD Wood Powder Coating project. The job creation is required under an agreement with the a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development fund grant through the city.

The agreement was to retain 16 employees, plus hire seven more before March 31 this year. That period of time would be extended one year.

No one spoke during the public hearing.

The council unanimously voted to accept the extension.

Held a public hearing on a petition to vacate an alley at 2403 Oak Street.

City Engineer Jeff Hulsether said vacating the alley doesn't appear to "adversely affect" future access to the adjacent properties. In staff opinion, he said, neither 24th Street nor the alley should be improved and maintained as public ways.

The council voted to accept the request. Voting against was city council member Gary Scheeler, saying he hated to take away from the city planning down the road.

Approved hiring a transit coordinator for the Engineering Department if a conditional offer presented is accepted. Seven applications were received and the offer will go to Keven Anderson at the pay rate of $4,233 per month.

Approved an event application and parade permit for the Hog Rally June 28.

Heard an update on the committee work on the potential riverfront project. The committee recently held a public event, but few people attended. Ostgarden said the committee needs direction on how to gather more public input, if that is wanted by the council. A general consensus from the council was that the group wants to hear recommendations from the committee. A motion was passed, asking for recommendations. Voting against was Koep.