City Council signs mutual aid pact

Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

The Caledonia City Council approved a mutual aid agreement on Monday, July 24. The pact is with other MMUA (Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association) members, and will allow FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) reimbursements if another MMUA member sends help to the City of Caledonia, or vice versa.

Council members asked city administrator Adam Swann a few questions about the agreement before approving, such as what its main purpose is, and whether or not the City of Caledonia would “have its hands tied” by signing.

“The purpose of it was to provide compensation from them (FEMA), so that localities don’t get stuck with either the cost of providing assistance to somebody else, or if we need assistance,” Swann stated. “We’re not going to get federal funding for that if we don’t have this agreement in place.”

Swann also said that rendering aid to other MMUA members remains discretionary, so city managers are free to determine whether or not the City of Caledonia would be negatively impacted before sending help elsewhere.

Zoning permit approved

with a change

Members studied a permit application carefully before approving the document – with a change. The permit would allow Marlys Jennings to install a new culvert and driveway to gain additional access to a parcel of land from Grant Street. The home address for the property is 1309 E. Main.

The new driveway would cross city-owned land. Swann referred the matter to engineer Jim Kochie of Davy Engineering, who found one significant problem with the application. As proposed, the driveway includes a culvert that would measure 48 inches in diameter, which is only 60% of the necessary capacity, Kochie replied in a written memo. His recommendation was to require a 60-inch wide culvert.

Council members agreed with Kochie, approving the permit with that change to the plans. They also stipulated that “The new driveway cannot impede the overflow of water to the south of the existing waterway, and that if it does wash out we (the City of Caledonia) are not responsible for the repairs of the washout.”

Big grants for small cities?

The council also voted to hire SEMCAC and CEDA (Community and Economic Development Associates) to submit pre-applications and (if that is accepted) applications for a Small Cities Development Program grant from DEED (the Minnesota Department of Employment and  Economic Development). If awarded, grant dollars could be used to fund “housing, public infrastructure and commercial rehabilitation projects,” according to DEED. The maximum grant amount for a comprehensive project is $1.4 million.

The motion approved $1000 for the pre-application work, and, should it be accepted, an identical amount for the formal grant application, with the dollars coming from the Caledonia EDA budget.

Other news

• Members discussed extending a city sewer main along E. South Street, beginning with the intersection of S. Winnebago and heading east, but took no further action. The project would require a special assessment on property owners to pay for it, and would probably need to begin with landowners petitioning the city for sanitary sewer hookups, councilman Bob Burns noted.

Casey Klug
Casey Klug

• Casey Klug, Caledonia’s new public works and zoning director, attended the meeting. Swann said that Klug had began his duties that morning, and “hit the ground running.” On a related note, the council granted $25 per month cell phone stipends to Klug and three other “on call” city employees. “Basically, this is the kind of thing we would offer for anybody who has to respond in an emergency,” the administrator noted.