The Crosslake City Council had extensive discussion Tuesday, Nov. 12, about extending sanitary sewer along County State Aid Highway 66 from Crosslake City Hall to Moonlite Bay, with members of the public weighing in at times.
In the end, the council agreed to accept a feasibility report from Bolton & Menk engineering firm, which triggers a public hearing for affected property owners to share their thoughts and ask questions about the proposed project and possible assessments. This does not mean the project will happen; it's part of the process.
That public hearing will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, in the council chambers at city hall. The proposed improvement would extend from city hall to 400 feet north of the CSAH 66-16 intersection at Moonlite Bay. The city will notify all property owners of the public hearing.
Estimated cost of the improvement is $1,381,300. An estimate of property owner assessments will be available at the hearing.
“This will be a real hardship on some of the businesses to the point it could result in empty storefronts, and that’s not what the city is trying to do; it’s trying to attract people here,” Mayor Dave Nevin said at the Nov. 12 city council meeting. “We need to include the people this is affecting and get their thoughts, and consider how to pay for this.”
There are more steps in the process before the council needs to decide if it should move forward with the project. An assessment hearing won’t be held until next fall. The council would have to get final plans and specifications, as well as bids for the project. Even then, the council could reject the project if bids come in too high.
These steps must be taken to keep the process moving. The council is not approving the project yet, city attorney Brad Person advised the council.
The feasibility report provides information regarding whether the proposed improvement is necessary, cost effective and feasible; whether it should best be made as proposed or in connection with some other improvement; estimated cost of the improvement and description of the method used to calculate individual assessments for affected parcels.
Some council members, including Dave Schrupp, were concerned about the cost estimate and possible assessments to property owners. Schrupp said the council was moving too fast and he asked if the city could delay the project for a year to get it right.
“We can’t do a sewer project every year for the next 10 years. We already delayed one from this fall to next year,” he said, noting he wanted to hear from residents.
Phil Martin, engineer with Bolton & Menk, explained that would be the reason for the Dec. 13 public improvement hearing.
Richard Eide, owner of Moonlite Bay Family Restaurant, advised the council to take its time to ensure this is done property, correctly and fairly instead of ramrodding it to get it in the done column. He said no resident or business currently connected to the city sewer system has paid an assessment, adding it’s unfair to residents and businesses now proposed to be assessed, especially when the reason for extending city sewer is for the benefit of all to protect the lakes.
Steve Baker suggested the city consider enacting a sales tax to pay for the project. The city does have a committee exploring a city sales tax and what money raised from such a tax could fund.
Eide also promoted a city sales tax to generate money for such projects.