City to address extra and worn utility poles
The Brainerd City Council has set its sight on aged and worn utility poles within the city. At Tuesday's Brainerd City Council meeting, the group directed staff to identify the exact poles in question, who owns them, and to write the company a le...
The Brainerd City Council has set its sight on aged and worn utility poles within the city.
At Tuesday's Brainerd City Council meeting, the group directed staff to identify the exact poles in question, who owns them, and to write the company a letter, asking that the pole be removed or replace them with new poles.
This is a recommendation to Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU), as it is BPU's agreement.
Residents have raised the issue to some council members, complaining about ailing poles or having several poles in one location, belonging to many different utility companies.
Once the city moves off a utility pole, the other utilities, like Charter Communications and CenturyLink, have the option of staying on the poles and taking over ownership.
The 40-year agreement requires the utility to maintain the pole once the city moves off, but there's no enforcement behind it.
Another issue is when the city does vacate a pole and the other utility companies stay, that means more power poles in the area.
City attorney Eric Quiring is looking at the joint agreements between BPU and utilities like Charter Communications and CenturyLink, along with the city's options in enforcement in maintaining the poles.
He'll bring a progress report back to the council in 60 days.
The city can bring forward an amendment to the contract with a 30-day notice, but it would take a negotiation and require mutual agreement, Quiring said.
City council member Kelly Bevans said there are two current issues:
The first being that the city has contracts with these utility companies that "may not be how we want to continue in the future."
The second, which residents have brought forward, is in regard to maintaining the poles after they are abandoned and sold. Also, that there are several different sets of poles in one location.
"Can't we consolidate these?" he asked about the many poles.
Bevans said the city should look into if there's a way to consolidate the poles, as well as maintain the forfeited poles throughout the city.
The council voted to also revisit city contracts with utilities to address those issues.
In other city council news:
Voted to hire Preservation Design Works for about $1,200, but not to exceed $2,000, to write a grant application, among other things, to fund designing a roof on the historic water tower.
City staff in June submitted an application to the state for $10,000 to fund designing a roof on the water tower, in order to prevent further water damage. But the application was denied.
The state said it was a worthy project but the application was incomplete, said city planner Mark Ostgarden, noting that the application requires specific expertise in historical structures.
An engineer with Preservation Design Works said the city could have success in getting a design grant and future rehabilitation grants if they did a historic structure review.
Bringing in Preservation Design Works would be a better chance to actually secure that grant, city engineer Jeff Hulsether said.
City council member Mary Koep questioned if it was necessary to have the company draft the application.
Hulsether said city staff could "fumble through" the application and try to guess at what they would want to fund, but Preservation Design Works has a better understanding and position to put together a successful application for it.
Preservation Design Works will also do a historic structure review and prepare a feasibility for being able to reestablish the historic look to the tower.
Voted to continue providing bus service to St. Francis School through the 2014-15 school year, as long as the county accepts the move as well.
The move keeps monthly bus fees at $60 per child for the 2014-15 school year.
Reichert Bus was recently given the chance to submit a bid on the services, but school officials say the company's fees were too high.
Since 2008, a handful of students have ridden the city/county's bus system to shuttle them from the outlying areas in the county to school. It was recently discovered that students who rode every day were being charged at a rate of $1.50 per ride, instead of the normal $2.50.
The school requested the same rate to help families who depend on that $60 rate, as well as to discuss future fees.
At the last meeting, the council agreed to keep the fees the same for this year, pending the bus company have a chance to bid as well.
The fee structure will be reviewed over the next year by officials.
Agreed to discuss the idea of moving the public hearing part of proposed ordinance changes to during the first reading instead of the second reading. The idea is to create a chance for more public feedback on issues.
The city administrator will put the issue in writing and bring it back before the group at its next meeting.