Brainerd City Council: Staff looking for solutions in failing phone system
City leaders have started exploring options in replacing Brainerd City Hall's telephone system, which "could go at any time." At a Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, the group heard staff is looking into options for replacing the phone system,...
City leaders have started exploring options in replacing Brainerd City Hall's telephone system, which "could go at any time."
At a Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, the group heard staff is looking into options for replacing the phone system, which could cost an estimated $36,000.
The telephone system is the No. 1 priority, according to city staff, among key improvements that were shot down on the November ballot, where voters said no to issuing $1.13 million in capital improvement bonds for several projects.
Other improvement projects included:
• $668,000 for heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrade at city hall and the police and fire stations.
• $225,000 for a salt and sand storage building for the Public Works Facility.
• $106,000 for emergency preparedness upgrades at the Public Safety Facility,
• $80,000 for the repair and renovation of the entry stairs at City Hall.
The bond issuance was first halted in 2013 when a petition with 311 valid signatures was turned into City Hall. Needed were 294 signatures. The petition led to the issue being placed on the November ballot.
Even with the voters saying no on the ballot, the issues must still be addressed, staff say.
There's $100,000 in the 2015 budget to start the projects.
Staff is pulling together some options for the phone system and will bring them before the council for final approval.
May is likely the earliest it will appear again, as the information technology department is busy with other projects, said city administrator Patrick Wussow.
Further, staff will continue to talk about the priorities of the remaining projects and bring recommendations before the council for direction, said finance director Connie Hillman.
"We're talking priority, priority, priority," said city council member Mary Koep, noting all of the projects come at a hefty bill.
In other city council news:
Heard an update on the hydro dam dispute, where the contractor working on the apron repair is demanding $554,000 in money they say they're owed, or threatened a possible lawsuit.
After a two-hour closed meeting Monday, the Brainerd Public Utilities Commission voted to reconvene the meeting at 2 p.m. Friday.
Approved a right-of-way encroachment policy to address structures like fences, temporary pools, play equipment and trees in danger of dying or a public nuisance.
The effective date will be Oct. 1, 2014, and any violations after that date will result in the property owner getting a notice to remove it.
Voted to negotiate scope of services and fees with a contractor in the airport utility extension project with Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH) and Widseth Smith Nolting (WSN.) One other firm applied: Bolton & Menk.
The lead consultant will be SEH, with some subcontracting going to WSN.
Approved labeling recently annexed land adjacent to the hydro dam as rural agriculture. When the city bought the hydro dam, about 37 acres of land came with the sale. After the land was annexed, the council needed to zone it. The land is steep, which makes development unlikely, city staff said.
Approved two variance requests from AutoZone, 801 W. Washington St. The business wants to reuse an abandoned 56-foot tall sign structure. The business also wants to be allowed two signs on the property at a closer distance than previously allowed.
Approved a conditional use permit for Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, 2424 Business Highway 371, to construct an addition to its current facility. The addition will be almost 14,000 square feet and will provide offices and classrooms for outpatient treatment and 20 inpatient beds for short term stay.
Approved an amendment to current zoning text to allow testing labs in general business zoned districts. Currently, only medical labs are permitted. Recently, a testing lab inquired whether water testing labs would be allowed and current language would not allow for them.
Approved upgrading lighting at the city's street department to T-8 fluorescent bulbs, as much of the original lighting needs to be replaced. The upgrade cost is $3,000, with an annual cost savings of $2,355.
Upheld a $450 late rental registration fee for a property on J Street. Resident Brexten Pearl said the paperwork was misplaced during a transition.
Approved an event application for the 2015 Tour of the Lakes Bicycle Ride for June 6. It will start at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds and end in Crow Wing State Park.
Approved a salary plan advancement for city administrator Wussow to 100 percent of the pay scale, as he's been with the city for a year.
Accepted with regret the following resignations: Lucy Nesheim from the Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), and Don Samuelson from the Charter Commission. Both resignations are in order to continue service on the BPU Commission.
Appointed Dale Parks to the Planning Commission and HRA.
JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews .