NAFRS approves aerial truck purchase
At a special NAFRS meeting yesterday morning, the Board approved the purchase of a used aerial platform truck. The current one was scheduled for replacement in 2020 at a cost of just over $1 million, however, a recent 3rd party inspection of the 1993 truck, built from a 1976 ladder system on an ‘84 chassis, revealed a number of safety issues that would cost about $43,000. The opportunity came up to purchase the used aerial truck for $366,000. Chair Glen Castore reports
it’s in very good condition, is much safer to operate, and will meet the needs of the fire service for another decade at least. The purchase must now be approved by the Northfield and Dundas Councils and, the Board of the Rural Fire District. Those approvals are anticipated by the end of June. Castore said this will decrease planned capital expenditures by about $800,000 over the next five years.
Graham says “Get it done now” – forming a taxing authority for NAFRS
According to the original NAFRS joint powers agreement, the group must look at becoming a Taxing Authority. Mayor Dana Graham said, “we need to get this done now rather than later so it can get to our legislators and get on the agenda for the next legislative session”. It is still taxpayer dollars, the difference is the Cities of Dundas and Northfield and the rural areas will have no financial obligation, rather the taxes would come directly from the citizens to NAFRS. Graham said, “it’s not going to save the citizens any money”. NAFRS would have full control of the finances and be fiscally responsible for where and when the dollars are spent. Graham says, with all the truck replacements the current Board has approved, at some point, it will exceed Northfield’s debt capacity as the City pays 72% of the costs. That would affect Northfield’s bond rating. Only Cloquet and Moose Lake have Fire Taxing Authorities. To become a taxing authority, it must be approved by the State Legislature.
Flood wall improvements approved – Council considers mitigation for River businesses
As part of the original development agreement of 303/305 Water Street with building owner David Hvistendahl, the City of Northfield agreed to pay for flood wall improvements. At the time, the cost was estimated at $17,000, a price that Mayor Graham said was always in contention with Hvistendahl and part of the reason the process has taken so long. The new cost with additional contingency is $137,000. Graham added, “now that’s a lot different than $17,000 but the $17,000 was never a realistic number. It was, it was a crazy number”. Zweifel said this whole process was a long time coming and the increased cost appears to reflect the reality of it. Pownell said, “if there’s a way we can move forward and put money in the CIP to help bring fairness across the board to the other businesses along the river, I think we ought to do that”. Most councilors agreed that the City work out a way to help mitigate flooding issues for all the businesses along the river. They voted 5 to 1 to approve the dollars per their agreement.
New Rice County Admin selected
Rice County Commissioners held a special meeting yesterday and selected a new County Administrator. Commissioner Galen Malecha reports they chose Sara Folsted. She is currently the Administrator for Renville. She’s been there for 7 years and was the Clara City Administrator for 3 years. Twenty-two candidates applied, four finalists were selected in mid-May. Malecha believes that she will do a great job and “she brings a broad spectrum of experience and ideas…. and we’re looking forward to working with her”.
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