Weather Forecast


Special city levy would fund study of storm water

WILLMAR -- Two Willmar City Council committees are recommending actions that could lead to completion of a draft storm water management plan and implementation of storm water improvements.

The Public Works/Safety Committee is recommending the council approve an agreement with Barr Engineering of Minneapolis to update the city's draft 1998 watershed management report to improve delivery of storm water-related services, infrastructure and regulatory compliance.

To pay for the study and storm water improvements, the Finance Committee, in a separate action, is recommending that Mayor Les Heitke's proposed property tax levy of $3,568,705 in the 2010 budget be increased by $100,000 to $3,668,705.

Both recommendations will be considered by the council at the 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday.

The Finance Committee's funding recommendation pleases Rolf Standfuss, chairman of the Storm Water Task Force. The task force was appointed by the council to study flooding problems caused by heavy rain events, and the task force made its recommended solutions to the council this past June.

Without the funding, said Standfuss, there is no way to complete the Barr report and proceed with recommendations.

"That's what we've been pushing to get the city to do is to get that completed ... to decide if our recommendations work,'' said Standfuss. "It will tell us where our flooding-prone areas are in Willmar. We know of a few, but there might be some that some people just don't complain about sometimes. I'm glad we're going to get it.''

The proposed levy increase would be in the form of a special levy authorized by the Legislature that lets cities recover Local Government Aid unallotments in 2008 and 2009. Willmar's LGA unallotments were $316,537 in 2008 and $269,043 in 2009.

The city had budgeted $50,000 in 2009 for the Barr update and for overall storm water projects, but the amount was cut by $20,000 as part of larger budget reductions due to the unalloments, leaving $30,000 for storm water analysis.

Barr Engineering is recommending a three-phase study at a cost of $71,040. The Public Works Committee is recommending the city accept Barr's proposal to proceed with the first phase to be completed in 2009 for a cost not to exceed $30,000.

Barr would update the city's hydrologic and hydraulic model to reflect current conditions, complete the draft watershed management plan and review current ordinances.

In other business, the council on Tuesday will consider a Public Works Committee recommendation to request price quotes from private contractors to provide street sweeping services for a one-year trial basis. The recommendation was made after the committee discussed the concept of contracting for street sweeping services rather than purchase a new street sweeper.

A contractor, Patrick Boyle of EnviroSweep of Willmar, says his cost analysis shows he could provide street sweeping services more cheaply than the city buying a new sweeper.

Also, the committee is recommending the council approve the concept of a five-year lease with the Northwoods Baseball League for use of Taunton Stadium for 34 home games a year plus playoffs. The city would receive revenue of $300 per game.

City staff will clean the bleachers, restrooms and maintain the baseball field; provide an area for an office trailer; and commit to full concession rights to the league along with all advertising revenue to assist in the support of costs.

The league consists of 14 teams from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Canada. Games are played from the end of May through mid-August. The players are college students that would live with families in the community, said Ryan Voz and Marc Jersach of the Northwoods League.

The council also:

? Will receive reports from the Labor Relations Committee and Community Development Committee.

? Honor retiring Willmar Police Officer John Kappers.

? Receive a presentation from Rhonda Otteson, foreclosure counselor with Lutheran Social Service.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150