BLOOMING PRAIRIE — With the Main Street project just weeks away from completion, the Blooming Prairie City Council is looking ahead at its cost — not only to the city but to the more than 50 property owners along the roadway.
This summer, Elcor Construction of Rochester began the $2.7 million reconstruction of Main Street, also known as County Road 42, in Blooming Prairie, and it’s scheduled to be completed Oct. 31.
The project includes new utilities, new curb and gutter, new sidewalks and a new roadway.
“They tell me they’re on schedule,” said Mike Jones, Blooming Prairie city administrator. “Their schedule says they’ll be done by the end of this month. We’re just about two and a half, three weeks out, and then we’ll be done.”
Jones said electrical work and the installation of the new sidewalks remain on the project.
But the Main Street property owners won’t be paying for the entire project themselves.
In fact, the city — and the county — will be helping.
Blooming Prairie’s portion of the project totals nearly $1.2 million projects, including utility improvements and a diagonal parking lane, while Steele County is picking up the remainder for the new roadway, new sidewalks and bump-outs on the nearly half mile of the roadway from County Road 15 to U.S. Highway 218.
In August, the City of Blooming Prairie received additional support when the Steele County Board of Commissioners approved an amendment to its cooperative agreement reflecting $100,000 of Local Road Improvement Program grant funding going to the city to offset its $340,000 parking lanes on Main Street.
In addition to the grant dollars, the utility improvements are being paid through the city’s water and sanitary sewer funds, which aren’t part of the property tax levy, and the parking lanes will be bonded for, which will be paid through the tax levy and special assessments.
So, what are the property owners paying for?
“Service hookups,” Jones said.
In May, the city council held a public hearing to discuss the preliminary assessments for service connections on the project. At the time, estimated cost per water and sewer connections were $1,770 without a new curb stop or $2,485 with a new curb stop and $1,575 for sanitary sewer.
But more recent numbers show an increase by including both the cost of construction and engineering. With those numbers, water service with a new curb stop would cost $2,574 and without a curb stop would cost $1,885. The sanitary sewer service would be the same at $1,575.
Jones said those numbers are a higher than the 2010 3rd Street North project, which had water assessments at $752 and sanitary sewer assessments at $1,129.
“We might not have charged for a new curb stop on the 3rd Street project,” he said. “There’s no way numbers are so far off.”
At the Blooming Prairie City Council meeting Monday night, Jones asked the council to consider eliminating the assessment cost for a new curb stop.
That means the city would pick up the more than $600 difference for nearly 40 properties.
“The discussion though is about what’s our feeling about the cost and does the city want to absorb some of this cost of these quotes to make them more reasonable?” Mayor H. Peterson said. “Personally, I think it’d be a good thing to reduce that cost if we can. Taking the curb stops out of the equation makes that more palatable.”
City councilor Bill Newman agreed.
“I think we should do that, especially if we don’t know for fact on 3rd Street if we’ve charged for theirs,” he said. “If we didn’t charge for theirs, we shouldn’t be charging here on Main Street.”
Jones said the city would apply the difference to its nearly $1.2 million bond.
The council did not vote on reducing the assessments on Monday. It only set a public hearing to further discuss the matter at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 9 at Blooming Prairie City Hall.
Jones said notices would be going out to property owners beforehand, and they have a 30-day appeal window after the public hearing, so the final assessments likely won’t be approved until December.