Residents could see pothole repairs coming soon.
City Councilor Jerry McDonald has been getting a lot of phone calls — “pretty hot ones,” he said — about the city’s potholes. Other councilors agreed.
“The roads are in really bad shape,” Mayor Elise Ryan said. “It needs to be addressed. I’d like to see a plan on making it happen faster.”
Public Works Director and City Engineer Jason Wedel explained that the city’s public works employees have been filling the potholes systematically. “We address the biggest, deepest ones first,” Wedel said. “Then we hit one area of town at a time and work our way around the area rather than scatter our efforts. It’s more efficient.”
Wedel added that the challenge has been filling potholes, while at the same time addressing other public works projects. “We’ve got six guys that are doing all the water main breaks and stormwater repairs and maintenance, too.”
“Come back with a plan by next council to get everything (done) by end of July,” McDonald said. “Otherwise it could stretch out to October or November. You need to get extra resources to do this. We need to get back to the residents on this. Everyone is upset. What’s it gonna take?”
City Manager Todd Gerhardt said that at its next meeting, Wedel would have a chart to show what areas have been completed and what remains. “If it shows it will take more than two months, we’ll bring in contractors,” Gerhardt said.
The city will have an energy efficiency audit on all city buildings and facilities, and replace its lighting with LED lights to reduce energy costs in the long term.
Jill Sinclair, environmental specialist, recently had Xcel come to the city to do a professional audit. The finding is that the city would have cost savings by swapping out its lights with LED lights.
Finance Director Greg Sticha asked council for direction. “Do you want to spend $70,000 to $80,000 to replace lights with LEDs? The total cost could be $100,000,” he said. However, Sticha also pointed out that a more detailed audit might bring down the costs, and that LED bulbs are becoming better made and less expensive.
The council directed city staff to bring in a contractor to do a more detailed audit to determine estimated costs, and then go out for bids.
In assessing the city’s pavement management program, the City Council is again considering instituting a franchise fee to fund the costs of street improvements.
The council spent much of last year discussing different ways to fund reconstructing and maintaining the city’s more than 100 miles of streets. The council considered options of a property tax levy, or collecting a franchise fee, or a combination of both. The year ended without a resolution.
The council will again review franchise fee options and plans to hold public meetings, as it did last year, for input.