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Council votes to move forward with street project using traditional financing methods

With no state bonding bill in sight, and legislators on a one-week holiday break, Perham City Engineer Jade Berube recommended the council move forward with the Third Street NE street and utility project using traditional financing to take advantage of a favorable bidding climate. Without a bonding bill, contractors are eager to get to work and to get started often bid projects lower than when they are busy, he said.

The city will pay more in interest using a bank to procure funding, however, the lowest bid came in about $700,000 lower than the $2,686,200 engineering estimate, which Berube suggested might happen during previous updates.

The low bid came from Sellin Brothers Inc., from Hawley for $1,956,107.46 for the base bid without state funding. Seven bids were received ranging from Sellin's $1.956 million to $3.056 million, Berube said.

He had asked contractors to figure two bids, one based on Public Facilities Authority funding and one without. Based on the bid from Sellin Brothers, the funding components with PFA funding added slightly more than 6 percent to project.

With that 6 percent off the table in a traditional financing scenario, the increased interest rate amounts to about the same project cost.

There were a number of items that were not bid under the project, such as pumps, panels and a generator for the lift station at Seventh Avenue, which will allow the city to purchase the equipment using the Tax Exempt Provision. Labor for installing this equipment was factored into the bids, Berube said.

With approval of seeking traditional financing, the city council will hold its assessment hearing May 8 and will continue on a track to complete the project this year.

The council also heard a request from Steve Sheets, Schoeneberger Funeral Home director, to move a 9-11 memorial bench from the present funeral home location to the Veterans Memorial at Perham Village Cemetery.

The memorial bench was placed about a year after the 9-11 attacks, he said and the plan was to keep it with the building, however, it will interfere with plans for the St. Henry's Preschool.

Sheets told the council that the 4-foot-wide-by-18-inch high bench would enhance the Veterans Memorial, allowing people to sit and read the names on the Veterans' monuments. He assured the council the funeral home was donating the bench to the city, but there would be no financial cost to the city once it was relocated. It would sit in an area that would not require mowing and Schoeneberger Funeral Home would take care of relocating the bench to the cemetery along with other items it is moving to its new location on Jake Street, and Sheets would coordinate the move. The council voted to accept the donation and approved its moved to the Veterans Memorial site at the cemetery.

The council also heard an update on progress of the new funeral home and plans for an open house, with a dedication and ribbon cutting, scheduled around the first week of June.

In other council news:

The process for replacing council member Harriet Mattfeld, who died March 13, can move forward with acceptance of a resolution announcing the council seat vacancy. Applications will be accepted through the end of the month with the goal of appointing a new member at the council's May meeting.

A variance and conditional use permit was approved for All Creatures Veterinary Clinic in Perham to allow for an expansion of services to include pet boarding. The variance allows for less than the 100-foot buffer presently required between commercial zoning and residential areas and to allow for a 5-foot encroachment into the side yard setback. The conditional use permit allows for the expansion of boarding facilities outside of what is normal with the veterinary business.

Business owner Dr. Raeanna Covington said the animals being boarded would not be left outside unattended and noted that while dogs will bark, the disruption would be short term each day as the dogs were let out for bathroom breaks. The business has a large indoor play space that was designed to contain noise.

With no verbal or written dissent recorded at the public meeting March 21, the recommendation from the Planning Commission was to grant the variance and the CU permit, with the stipulation that the privacy fence be increased to 8 feet high, and if noise become a concern, that the owner put in additional sound barriers, such as trees or bushes. The council voted in favor of the recommendation.

The next regular council meeting is Monday, May 8, at 5:15 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.