The Backus City Council reviewed issues raised by Richard Braunig, manager of aviation safety and enforcement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, following an Oct. 8 visit to the Backus Municipal Airport.

Braunig submitted a letter to the city that identified problems at the airport, ranging from tall grass, damaged taxiway lights, overgrown brush on the north end of the runway and other issues. By the time the Backus council held its regular meeting Monday, Nov. 4, most of the violations Braunig noted had been addressed by JB Johnson on behalf of the airport.

Johnson informed Braunig, and later the council, that the city will work on better lawn maintenance going forward. In addition, once the ground is frozen, extensive brush removal on the north end of the runway will commence to help the airport meet guidelines. Damage to runway lights occurred just before Braunig's arrival at the airport. Johnson said an airplane strayed off the runway or one of the lawnmowers struck the lights.

Johnson also clarified that a concrete slab Braunig identified near the runway is a stopping slab installed so that pilots can stop their planes on a hard surface rather than the grass, which is recommended to pilots. Johnson addressed other issues as well and is working to ensure that the city does not lose its licensing and default on grants from the state.

The council appeared satisfied by Johnson's replies to Braunig.

In other business Monday, the council:

  • Approved transfer of state distribution of funds to the fire department.
  • Learned the Backus Fire Department grant for funds for gear purchases had been declined. However, the department may be able to try again. In the meantime, gear may be purchased using other funds.
  • Learned addition of another property on the Point Road street work estimate would increase the cost of the project by $30,000. In September the council presented options estimated to cost $115,000 or $300,000 for work on Point Road. The city will inform residents of the addition. To date, the city has not heard word from Point Road residents after the cost estimates were presented.
  • Agreed to certify unpaid utilities to property taxes.
  • Approved an audit proposal for 2019-20.
  • Reviewed a city hall carpeting estimate of $12,067.20. Council member Karl Flier said the estimate seemed high. The council didn't take any action.