Council out of optionsAfton City Council finds itself between a rock and a hard place.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Afton City Council finds itself between a rock and a hard place.
At a special meeting Tuesday night, May 19, city council members were told they could not recoup any of the $100,000 they had budgeted to spend on stabilizing a gully in the Croixview Avenue South area of Afton, because due process had not been followed.
David Beaudet, chairman of the Middle St. Croix Water Management Organization (MSCWMO) and also the mayor of Oak Park Heights, broke the bad news to the council, explaining that because the city had not held public hearings seeking residents’ opinions on the question of special assessments in January or February, the city would now have to foot the bill as the bid had already been preliminarily awarded.
“You haven’t followed step one [of the process], and I think that’s the problem,” he told Mayor Julia Welter and the members of the council.
“My concern is that we have jumped two months ahead of schedule, and we have left ourselves with no options,” said Welter.
“If we are, indeed, cut off from any options, we need to know that.”
The city had hoped to recoup up to $50,000 of the cost to stabilize the gully, which lies on the Afton-Lakeland border, and has been worsening in condition for two to three years.
Seven residents own land either contributing to or suffering from the problems connected with the gully, and the city was planning to bill them, through special assessments, a special taxing district, or a usage charge, to claw back the funds it would spend out.
“I’m having a hard time balancing the private versus public benefit,” said council member Joe Richter.
“Now, we have everyone in Afton paying for the restoration of a ravine that was eroding on private property. What about the other ravines we have in Afton? Are we setting a precedent?”
The MSCWMO awarded the bid, subject to the confirmation of Afton City Council it would pay its share of the project, to Veit, a specialty contract and waste management company, earlier this month.
The total value of the contract is $150,368, plus engineering costs.
Afton City Council originally said it would pay $100,000; another $75,000 comes from a BWSR grant and Lakeland City Council agreed to pay $20,000.
The city of Afton was scheduled to discuss the subject at its regular meeting Tuesday night, May 20, with options including abandoning the project entirely, and asking the Valley Branch Watershed District for $25,000 towards the costs.
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