The Mabel City Council members agreed that there is no good reason to wait to bid the upcoming water and sewer rehab project during their regular meeting last Wednesday evening.

The council met with Mark Davy and Sean Welty of Davy Engineering to further discuss the extensive project and the status of the process.

The discussion came immediately following an announcement by City Maintenance Director Bob Mierau, that he would be leaving the city after more than 15 years of service to the city of Mabel. Mierau said he has contracted with the city of Caledonia for the remainder of this year on a part-time basis in addition to working in Mabel. He will go to work for Caledonia full-time in January.

Discussion of the $3.1 million water/sewer project centered around whether or not the city should start the lengthy project this summer, knowing that it won't be finished in time for Steam Engine Days in September.

Terry Torkelson, acting as mayor pro tem in the absence of Mayor Brian Street, said he was inclined to wait.

"My take is if it doesn't cost us more, maybe we should postpone it," said Torkelson.

Davy said in his opinion, prices for the project would not come down if the city waits.

"Experience tells me you're better off to bid sooner. From my standpoint, there is very little to lose by bidding this summer and you don't have much to gain by waiting," said Davy.

Davy said the "no dig" part of the project could happen any time, and they could let bidders know the project would have to be "buttoned up" by Steam Engine Days.

"Their (Davy Engineering) name is on this project too. They want to have things buttoned up because we'll remember that," said Mierau, but also admitted, "There will be some minor inconveniences."

City Clerk Karen Larson said she thinks Mierau's announcement that he is leaving impacts the council's decision on how quickly to proceed.

"It's a good project. You guys have taken a lot of steps to improve your infrastructure," said Mierau.

"There are areas we can prioritize," added Welty.

Homeowner's opportunity

Mierau said as part of the project, sewer lines will be replaced to the back of the curb. He suggested the council recommend to homeowners to replace their private lines at the time of the project.

Mierau said there are programs through the USDA to help owners pay for such projects.

"We want to give them this opportunity. This is a one-time shot," said Mierau.

Davy made the suggestion that homeowners consider replacing their laterals if they are over 40 years old.

"Especially if they are made of cast iron," he said.

Davy said in his experience, it is not wise for cities to develop a "hard line" on such projects. He said the smartest approach is to educate people.

Mierau suggested interested homeowners contact the city for a list of loans and plumbers available.

Davy estimated the project would cost homeowners between $10 and $15 per linear foot, but suggested they call a plumber for a hard quote.

Davy and Welty also offered to help the city during the transition of Mierau leaving his job.

"We could help with interviewing (wastewater treatment) operators," he said.

The council voted unanimously to move forward with setting an official bid date on the project.

Other business

In other matters, the council approved a 2 percent rate increase from Tri-County Electric.

It also discussed the acquisition of a new AED (automated external defibrillator) for the community center. Jesse Grabau, a sheriff's deputy from Fillmore County, told the council that Mabel will be receiving an AED later this year. He said the county has a three-year grant which should pay for a new AED by September.

The council also approved a motion which will allow the city to collect utility payments by automatic debit out of citizens' checking or savings accounts. For more information, contact Larson at the city office at (507) 493-5299.