BAXTER-Costs on the Memorywood Drive project came in lower than anticipated.

Aric Welch, consulting project engineer from Widseth Smith Nolting, provided a bid opening review for the 2019 street projects and the Memorywood Drive project last week.

Welch said they received a pretty good bid from Knife River Corp., the low bidder. The streets slated for paving projects, from milling off the top layer and putting down fresh pavement to recycling the existing pavement and putting down new bituminous, for this year include: Fairview Road, Industrial Park Road, Greenwood and Basswood roads and includes Memorywood Drive.

Welch said the project came in at $3,270,213, with two alternates. One alternate is for chip-seal repairs of about $51,769 and the second alternate is for a trail connection between Arbor Glen, the housing complex along Excelsior Road in Baxter, and the nearby Paul Bunyan State Trail for about $29,072.

"The bids look really good," Welch said. "We actually plugged all the numbers into spreadsheets looked at all of the costs and everything is lower than we anticipated."

The engineer's estimate for the project was $3,614,791.

Welch didn't have the exact numbers, but said he could give the council members an idea of the cost reductions for assessments by percentage. The numbers were:

• Memorywood Drive, about 8% lower,

• Greenwood Road, on the commercial part or the west side, about 5% lower,

• Greenwood Road stormwater project, about 18% lower,

• Industrial Park Road, about 20% lower,

• Fairview Road, about 10%.

Welch said with the good numbers, the recommendation was to move forward with resolutions ordering preparation of the proposed assessments and schedule an assessment hearing on April 23.

The council approved those motions during the April 2 regular meeting.

In other business, the council:

Scheduled the annual stormwater public information meeting at 7 p.m. May 7. The city is required to have the informational meeting. A short presentation is planned along with time for public feedback on the city's Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, commonly referred to as the MS4 permit, and the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program.

Scheduled a public hearing to certify delinquent utility bills, invoices and abatements at 7 p.m. June 4. Unpaid and delinquent bills are typically certified to a property owner's taxes. Unpaid services and outstanding nuisance abatement charges are also handled this way. The first step for this process begins with this public hearing.

Approved a resolution requesting the state Legislature to pass a comprehensive and balanced transportation funding package to permanently increase funding dedicated for local road and transit systems as well as an omnibus transportation funding bill for more dedicated funding for non-metropolitan area city street maintenance, construction and reconstruction.

Approved hiring 10 seasonal park attendants at $11 or $12 per hour, depending on whether they've worked for the city previously. The council approved hiring Mike Lyscio, Jenna Nieman, Kyle Nieman, Taylor Shelito, Logan Tabaka, Olivia Wiskow, Jaden Howard and Ben Kral.

Approved a permit for the Race for Grace, a 5K walk and run at Forestview Middle School. The event is sponsored by The Brighter Days Foundation, and is planned May 25. The Baxter Police Department noted the event has been part of the community since 2012 and continues to grow so this year the department will set up staff hours and plan to close segments of Knollwood Drive and Mountain Ash Drive for a short time.

Approved a letter of support for the Mississippi Headwaters Board to the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The board is applying for a grant for the Whiskey Creek project aimed at improving water quality for the creek, a tributary to the Mississippi River. The project aims to protect water quality and habitat and remove 4 tons of phosphorus and 512 tons of sediment during the next two decades. Other touted benefits include flood control, creating public green space, adding pollinator-friendly plants and creating access to local trails. Whiskey Creek, with a path that includes flowing through the former golf course in Baxter, collects water and pollutants from the Highway 371 commercial corridor.

"We agree this project is a priority for MHB as it ranks as the second highest project in urban retrofit projects within the eight counties of the MHB jurisdiction," the letter states. "This project is within a region of the highest risk factors for impacts on water quality in Crow Wing County."

In council comments, council member Connie Lyscio noted recent recognitions in the Dispatch for Sandy Johnson's years of service and a new furnace and the Baxter Lions' sponsorship of two Eagle Scouts. Mayor Darrel Olson concurred saying Johnson has been a good friend to the city and volunteer.

Council member Zach Tabatt noted a bill in the House, HF 348, that could change the way local option sales tax is approved. The bill makes legislative authority to impose a local option sales tax required before it would be submitted to voters. Tabatt said, based on a League of Minnesota Cities email, the cities would be asked to delineate specific projects for specific prices. Tabatt said it seems to be a lack of trust and respect for local control and such a tax should be accountable to the local government instead of legislative representatives from outside the area.

Council member Todd Holman attended a recent Region Five meeting on transportation and noted there are all kinds of little transportation systems, private and public, and there may be options for efficiency and partnerships. He said the system often services older adults, people with disabilities, veterans and people with lower incomes. Another meeting is planned 6-8 p.m. June 4 at Sprout in Little Falls to share information and get public feedback.

Brad Chapulis, city administrator, reported plans are ongoing for the Census 2020 kickoff with efforts going into putting together a Complete Count Committee. Minnesota could lose one of its eight congressional seats after the census.

Council member Mark Cross was absent.