Summer street and utility improvement projects are almost underway in Chatfield after Chatfield's city council convened last Monday evening.

City engineer Dillon Dombrovski presented an update on the project, citing that two bids had been opened and that contractors were very close in estimating the costs, one submitting a bid slightly higher, and the other, slightly lower than the cost the city proposed in its bid-gathering.

Councilor Ken Jacobson inquired of Dombrovski whether it is a normal thing to receive only two bids for an extensive street project, and Dombrovski replied that it isn't usual, but that other contractors who might have considered the project probably have already committed to projects in other cities.

City Clerk Joel Young outlined the financial implications of the project, relating that the bond sale will be arranged during the next council meeting.

"Sewer rates will go up 3 percent per year, and water rates, 4-and-a-half percent, likely because some of the pipe that we'll be getting is more expensive," Young explained. "But 4-and-a-half percent on (the base charge of) $9.50 is not a large increase."

He stated there have been fewer new houses built in Chatfield than originally forecast, but the tax rate should remain flat if the tax levy is increased slightly.

"The street overlay budget is going to take a hit in the next few years unless our tax capacity grows, and once it goes up and we can recoup a little, projects will be every other year," he said.

Young noted an easement for 1,700 square feet on St. Albans Place is still in the works and that the property owner is cooperative and helpful but "concerned about certain nuances" of the easement agreement.

Dombrovski stated the city might see construction beginning on the various projects throughout town - including St. Albans, Bench and Twiford - if the preconstruction and bonding are completed very soon.

The low-bidding contractor, Zincke, Inc., of La Crescent, has reviewed the schedule and staging plans and has agreed to them.

Momentarily, the question of whether to proceed with the project awarding before the St. Albans easement is settled arose, and Councilor Paul Novotny commented that if the easement isn't approved, there is a secondary plan that would work.

Councilor Mike Urban said, "I prefer that we wait and get everything squared away."

The council chose to table the matter until the easement papers are in order.

Relay for Life

Fillmore County Relay for Life representative Deb Jorgenson spoke to the council about Chatfield being the host city of the 2015 and 2016 cancer research fundraiser walk. She explained that the Relay for Life committee would like the event to take place in City Park and also at the Chatfield Center for the Arts (CCA), as the venues are close enough together to provide a walking track and a place to hold various associated activities, as well as provide shelter in case of inclement weather.

The all-night celebration would begin at 6 p.m. and last until 4 a.m., and the organizers would need the streets surrounding City Park and the CCA blocked off, police assistance and permission to camp in City Park. Urban observed that what Jorgenson requested for the Relay for Life "is very similar to what we do for Western Days in the park."

Assured that the Relay for Life organizers know what they're doing, the council wished Jorgenson good luck.

Reports

Novotny reported the Public Works committee had discussed the acceptable response time for Public Works employees, the summer help being hired to assist the city maintenance workers - one for the summer only and the other to handle tasks through October - and roofing problems at the wastewater treatment plant and the city shed.

Chatfield Police Chief Shane Fox spoke about former Chatfield Police officer Aaron Miliander, who departed from the force earlier this spring to join the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office. Miliander has since left Olmsted County's law enforcement and wishes to return to Chatfield part-time to fill a position that is currently open. Fox stated, "Aaron is ready and willing to go." The chief would like to include him in the pool of officers hired to fill part-time hours. The council agreed unanimously.

Lastly, Young reminded the council and gallery of the Habitat for Humanity disc golf tournament that was held this past Saturday as a fundraiser for the group, and the council granted a permit for Habitat to hold a food sale as part of the fundraiser.

Other business

Next, the council voted in favor of a conveyance applied for by Linus Hammell for lots on Grand and Seventh streets, as Hammell wishes to make changes to the lots.

The council also approved the preliminary and final plats of Twiford Street to consolidate 10 lots into two buildable lots.

The council passed a motion accepting the publication of a renewed franchise agreement with Alliant Energy.