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Federal dollars to offset water treatment plant costs in Baxter

Jeremy Vacinek, Baxter’s finance director, presented the resolution to the council and said Baxter is scheduled to receive about $914,000 in federal funds from the legislation.

Two workers in the water treatment plant.
Baxter's Streets and Utilities Supervisor Brian Berent, right, and Streets and Utilities Lead Maintenance worker Scott Sehlito prepare to run tests in March 2022, at Baxter's water treatment plant.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — Looking to reduce costs to local residents associated with repairs and upgrades to Baxter’s water treatment plant, the Baxter City Council voted to allocate $700,000 of its American Rescue Plan Act funding to the project.

Jeremy Vacinek, Baxter’s finance director, presented the resolution to the council and said Baxter is scheduled to receive about $914,000 in federal funds from the legislation. The city received the first half of the allocation in 2021 and will receive the second half in July.

More Baxter City Council coverage
Knollwood residents gathered at city hall for an assessment hearing regarding assessments for the upcoming Knollwood Improvement Project tentatively planned for 2023.

The $700,000 will be allocated under the revenue loss provision of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds established under the federal act to offset some costs associated with the water treatment plant. Grant proceeds can be allocated toward salary expenditures under the revenue loss category. In Baxter, the relief dollars will offset staff costs associated with the response to the water treatment plant issues.

The city’s water treatment plant has been shut down for more than a year because of filtration failures . Currently, Baxter is purchasing water from Brainerd Public Utilities.

By allocating the ARPA funds, the council looks to reduce the future increase in residents’ water bills to pay for the repairs.

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In Baxter’s meeting notes, the city said based on its current figures, the city’s residential water base charge would need to increase $3.08 per month for the year to generate $100,000 of revenue to cover water treatment plant costs. The $700,000 will alleviate a potential increase of $21.56 to residents' water bills — a dramatic increase to the current $12.72 per month in charges.

The council unanimously approved the resolution to allocate $700,000 to the water treatment plant project costs.

In other business, the council:

Two people holding a picture
Melissa Barrick, left, district manager for the Crow Wing Soil & Water Conservation District, presents Baxter Community Development Director Josh Doty with a print during the April 5, 2022, meeting. Council member Connie Lyscio was a little slow on getting the bunny ears behind Doty.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

Was recognized by Melissa Barrick, district manager for the Crow Wing Soil & Water Conservation District, who thanked the city of Baxter for the establishment of open space land in southwest Baxter. The council was presented with a print to thank them for their work at preserving the natural beauty of Minnesota.

Sent a memo to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which requested comments on the preliminary design for its 2025 Highway 210/Washington Street improvements project. The majority of the project is located in the city of Brainerd, but a small portion from Baxter Drive to Northwest Ninth Street is located in Baxter city limits. City staff met with MnDOT once and worked with SEH, which is the city's transportation engineer, to draft a response letter.

In the letter, the city requested MnDOT install a 10- or 12-foot multi-use trail with a 5-foot boulevard on the north side of Highway 210, instead of the proposed 8-foot sidewalks. Officials also requested no sidewalk be built on the south side of the highway and sought battery backup at the Baxter Drive signal.

Formed a committee to review future connection charges, as it has recognized the struggle to balance the fiscal responsibilities to Baxter taxpayers and the public benefits of sewer and water projects.

Established in 2006 and with the changes to the residential real estate market since 2008, Baxter’s future connection charges have the potential to reach balances that may exceed the value of the property, counterintuitive to the original plan.

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Adopted a resolution accepting the bid from R.L. Larson Excavating, Inc. for $3,539,601.51 for the 2022 Foley Road, Isle Drive and Forthun Road improvements project.

Met in closed session to discuss the purchase of property and the BNSF railway crossing at Inglewood Drive. No decision was made.

Related Topics: BAXTER CITY COUNCILBAXTER
Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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