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Breezy council accepts bid, gives go-ahead on Whitebirch pavement project

The Breezy Point City Council finalized the last steps toward beginning the Whitebirch Drive and Creek Circle sewer installation and pavement project Monday, April 7, approving a bid from Pratt’s Affordable Excavating, Inc., of Merrifield.

With no concerns expressed at the assessment public hearing held Wednesday, April 2, the council chose to move forward on the issue at its regular council meeting.

“The sooner we can get going on this, the better off we’ll be,” said council member Otto Schmid. “We’ll save two to three weeks by approving this tonight.”

City Administrator Joe Rudberg said the council has considered a paving project on those roads in the past because of erosion issues, but the project became more fiscally feasible for the city as plans for a new housing development on Whitebirch Drive emerged. The first phase of the project, named Whitebirch Village, will consist of 18 homes. Eventually, the development will have 52 homes.

This increase in the number of homes in the area brought the cost per unit of the project significantly down. Currently, both streets as part of the project are gravel, and the homes there have on-site septic systems. The project includes the installation of new sewer pipes that will connect to a nearby existing lift station.

Concerns raised by existing homeowners in the area regarding the sewer installation led the council to revise an ordinance in January. The revised ordinance removes a previous requirement for sewer hookup within two years of a new sewer pipe installation, instead allowing homeowners to wait until their system is 20 years old or the pipe has been installed for 15 years, whichever comes earlier.

The project is scheduled for completion by the end of July.

In other business, the council:

• Heard from Jonathan Archer, audit manager at Schlenner Wenner Co. in St. Cloud, who presented the 2013 audit report on the city’s finances. Archer reported to the council that the city has “nice looking cash balances, which is good to see.”

Although earnings from investments were significantly down, Rudberg wrote in his summary of the audit to the council that every category of expenditures was under budget except for two line items. The city had a positive variance in revenues of $51,648, an increased balance in the revolving capital fund from $633,691 to $957,742, and an increase in the sewer fund by a margin of $215,749. Schmid said he was elated with the audit report.

“It’s the best one I’ve seen in my six years on the council,” he said.

• Re-addressed the seal coating road project previously approved because of a cost calculation error. The cost originally considered was 65 cents per square foot, when it should have been $1.65. City engineer Mike Rude said he believed this to still be a good price. The council approved the same project at the revised cost of $70,270.

• Approved the renewal of the fire contract with Pequot Lakes Fire Department for $74,335.18.

• Approved the sale of 3.2 percent alcohol at Highview Campground.

• Approved the sale of a forfeited 2005 Acura, acquired as part of a DWI arrest.

• Received the March offense summary from Police Chief Kevin Merschman. Most notably, the department dealt with one traffic arrest, three accidents and one theft. There were also 36 traffic-related offenses, 27 agency assists, 12 medicals, 11 animal-related calls, three alarms and 44 miscellaneous calls.

Chelsey Perkins

Chelsey Perkins grew up in Crosslake and is a graduate of Pequot Lakes High School. She earned her Bachelor's degree in professional journalism from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Perkins has interned at the Lake Country Echo and the Rochester and Austin Post-Bulletins and also worked for the student-run Minnesota Daily newspaper as a copy editor and columnist during college. She went on to intern at Utne Reader magazine, where she was later hired as the research editor. Before joining the Brainerd Dispatch, Perkins worked as a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal.

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