Granite Falls city council meets to kick off June

Jess Gorman
Granite Falls Advocate Tribune

Granite Falls city council met Monday June 7 as part of their regular monthly meeting scheduled. On the docket were items such as a KCC appointment, Memorial Park updates, and approvals that make way for Western Fest activities in downtown Granite Falls. 

The council took in a report from the recent planning commission meeting. The commission stated they met May 24th. The biggest discussion item they tackled was the hydro electric plant actuator.  It was shared that L & S removed the actuator and top gear from the west gate at the hydro plant for repairs. Unfortunately, L & S stated as a result of advanced deterioration, the actuator cannot be repaired and needs to be replaced. Water Superintendent Chris Anderson acquired two quotes, one from L & S and one from Vessco to replace the actuator. This update was previously approved to be one of the alternates in the Turbine #3 bid, but unfortunately the repair needs to move forward now. The gate needs to be in operation as part of the hydro plant repair project. The cities hoped plan is to cover the cost with RDA funding if funding remains.

The quote from L & S is $12,335 with Vessco’s quote at $7,382. The quotes include the new actuator and installation. The east gate is in similar condition and also needs to be replaced. The total cost from Vessco to replace both is $14,764. The Utility Commission recommended for council to approve the replacement of both gate actuators.

More news from the planning commission brought the city one step closer to environmentally friendly goals. An update was shared that the city was awarded a fast electric vehicle charging station as a result of the MPCA grant that was submitted. The grant award was from ZEF Energy. A meeting will be arranged in the coming weeks with ZEF Energy and the local Cenex where the station will be housed. 

Memorial Park Committee updates from the June 1 meeting were given. Jean Garbarini with Damon Farber provided an overview of past phases 1-3:

Phase I

New Restroom, Shelter house Roof, Parking Renovation, Crosswalk Improvements. (Grant Funding $596,000) Local match $160,000.

Phase II

Campground Improvements, Playground Equipment, Invasive Species Removal, and Signage.

(Grant Funding $732,261) Local match $129,223.

Phase III

Shelter House Tuck Pointing, Fireplace, and Exterior Improvements

(Grant Funding $150,000) No local match.

The committee also reviewed and discussed what was to be included in the Phase IV grant request, listing items such as:

1. Entrance piers tuckpointing including lights on top and electrical work.

2. Portable toilet screen on the large shelter house side.

3. Drinking fountain near large shelter house entrance for easier access.

4. Trail around the pond and potential crossing on Hwy 67. This crossing option is currently under review with MnDOT.

5. 28 new park picnic tables.

The group is currently in the process of putting together cost estimates. More details will be shared at the June 21st council meeting when council will need to consider formally approving submitting the Phase IV grant application and approving the city’s 10% required match. 

In other council actions the appointment of Daphne Timm was approved to the KCC board. Additionally approved, was the donation of a shed from Andrea Doop with Adams Pest Control, Inc. who was interested in providing a new shed located in the City Cemetery. Andrea stated she and her husband had visited the cemetery to see her family’s gravestone and noticed the shed in disrepair. The use of Sorlien park near the river bank by the Granite Falls Legion was also approved for Western Fest festivities. 

Dylan Curfman is the new Public Access Coordinator with the city which is a contract position. 

Council approved in 2018 a multi-year contract with Native Resource Preservation for invasive species removal located in Memorial Park as part of the Phase II grant request. This contract ends in 2021. City staff is recommending outside of an ongoing multi-year contract starting in 2022, that an additional proposal should be considered for this summer for the area known as “Unit A” as there is a lot of new regrowth, more than what was anticipated. The grand total cost for everything submitted from NRP is $28,500. The proposal for invasive species removal was approved by council. 

At the May 17th meeting, council called for quotes for the demolition of the home located at 221 Baldwin as part of the 2021 Street and Utility project. Two quotes were received. The lowest quote from H & H was in the amount of $9,427.00. Council approved the cost for the property removal.

After gathering information earlier in the meeting from the planning commission, council formally approved the quote from Vessco in the amount of $14,764.00 to replace and install both gate actuators at the hydro plant.

On June 7 council also took in a new electrical rate study completed by Tim Miller with Missouri River Energy Services. The purpose of this study is:

· To determine whether estimated total revenues will be sufficient to cover estimated revenue requirements and provide a reserve for replacements and contingencies

· To determine the cost to serve each customer class

· To design retail rates for the various classes, including analyzing the power cost adjustment (PCA) base and the calculation methodology

· To review the competitive position of Granite Falls through utility rate comparisons

The key rate study recommendations include:

· Implement rate adjustments to move the customer classes closer to cost of service along with a 2% overall increase in 2022

· Increase the availability charges and demand rate to better reflect the fixed costs of providing service and prepare for additional customer distributed generation in the future

· Increase the PCA base factor

The newly proposed rates were designed to recover rising operating expenses and to fund capital expenditures while maintaining cash reserves at an adequate level. Council approved the next step of calling for a rate increase public hearing which is required per the City’s Charter. The public hearing will be held Tuesday, July 6 at 7:15pm. 

The Hydro Plant project will commence June 1st and is estimated to be completed by the end of July. Recent communication with the DNR explained the need for a new permit. The reasoning being the existing permit does allow drawdowns for maintenance, but not repairs. Since the project falls under repairs, a permit is required. Engineer Cordelle Thomasma with Barr is working with Jason Boyle with the DNR to complete the required permit.