10/21/2016 11:52:00 AM Septic feasibility study approved
by Sandy Hadler
Randolph's city hall was filled to capacity once again at the October 12 meeting. Residents, concerned about the septic system mandate from Dakota County, have attended the past few council meetings in record numbers. The mandate requires Randolph's residents, whose septic systems are not in compliance, to update them soon. To date, there are 40% of the city's septic systems that are out of compliance and present a serious risk to the community's drinking water. There are many more septic systems in town that will be out of compliance in the next few years.
At the last meeting in September, residents suggested that Randolph look at attaining a city sewer system, instead of replacing so many of the city's septic systems. The cost of replacing a septic system is around $25,000 or more, and will present a financial burden for many of the city's low to median income families.
Dakota County Commissioner Mike Slavik was in attendance and said, "As you know, part of the process included residents who have septic systems that are not compliant. The plan was to start getting them in compliance. But we have put a break on that for now. We will hold off on the septics until we see if the City will do a feasibility study. Doing so shows that the intent is to do something different. The County is in favor of your going forward with a feasibility study. We are encouraging people not to put in new septic systems at this time."
Mayor Bob Appelgren said he had met with City Engineer Brian Hillgardner from Bolton & Menk, Inc. and was told it would cost $12,500 to do a feasibility study. Appelgren told Hillgardner that the City could not afford to pay that amount, and would have to forget about pursuing a city sewer system.
Hillgardner went back to discuss the situation with his boss and contacted Appelgren later to tell him that Bolton & Menk would do the feasibility study for $2,500, with the possibility of some additional, incidental costs that the City would have to pay. Council members were thrilled to hear this latest development.
A feasibility study would explore Randolph's cost to have its own treatment plant, and also what it would cost to hook up to Cannon Fall's sewer system. It was noted that no one has asked Cannon Falls whether they would consider allowing Randolph to hook into their sewer system.
Appelgren said by exploring options, the city will have some additional time to look for loans and grants to help pay for the cost of a sewer project. He said, "We can always say no, but we don't want to do that until we find out if someone can give us some money." He added, "It may be several years before we have financing lined up."
Aaron Wills, from the Cannon River Watershed Partnership, was in attendance, along with Brad Becker, who is Water Resources Supervisor for Dakota County. Wills said there is a program available through his organization to help small cities like Randolph work through the process. It will also help in the quest to find funding.
Carolyn Chester asked if there was grant money available to pay for the feasibility study. Wills responded, "Not so much for a feasibility study, but there are quite a few options available for building a sewer system." She continued to press the issue, asking if he could look for some funding, and he replied, "Absolutely, we can look."
A woman in the audience said that Randolph should submit the sewer study it had done previously. Councilor Marie Jacob said the city's last study on the subject was done at least ten years ago, and she questioned whether the state would even look at a study that was so outdated.
Applegren said, "We live along a river and a creek and that will really help, when looking for funding." A motion was made to hire Bolton & Menk to do a feasibility study for $2,500. The motion passed unanimously.
Coalition meeting to be announced
Clerk Mary Haro reported that a representative from the Dakota County Coalition will come to Randolph to go through the necessary procedures to create a new comprehensive plan for the city. She encouraged residents to attend the meeting, and to ask questions, once a date is set. "The more who come, the better," she said.
Council members signed a resolution stating that they plan to join the Coalition. Haro will send it on to Dean Johnson, who is the head of the Dakota County Coalition, and he will contact her to set up a meeting date.
Mayor Bob Appelgren said the City had already sent in a $3,000 check, signaling that Randolph is joining the Coalition.
Plan A form of government
City residents will receive a letter in the mail soon, explaining the Plan A form of government that they will vote on this year. Currently, the city's clerk and treasurer are elected. If Randolph's residents vote to appoint these positions, instead of electing them, another council position can be added. Councilor Marie Jacob said all the neighboring towns use the Plan A form of government.
In other business
The City's water hydrants will be flushed the last week of October. They will be flushed for a longer period of time, since it took so long to get clear water after the last flushing was done.
After dealing with defective water meter software for a lengthy period of time, Haro recommended switching the city's software service from American Business Solutions (ABS) to Banyon Data Systems. She noted that there are a number of new ABS water meters that aren't reading again, and they are still under warranty. Council members told her to contact ABS to explain that the city plans to switch companies, if they do not correct the problem. The defective water meters have caused chaos with water billing in Randolph for a number of years. Despite extensive efforts by staff, some residents have not received a bill in years.
A list of election judges has been compiled. It is fairly long, but Haro said she wanted to be sure the City had enough judges, so they could work less hours on Election Day. She felt it was going to be a busy election year, and because Randolph has new voting equipment, the process will take somewhat longer than it usually takes. A motion was made and seconded to approve the election judge list.
A woman questioned who counts the ballots on Election Day. It was explained that the County's machines count all the ballots from Dakota County.
Business Services Blacktop and Seal Coating will clean off the pavement on the road into Hereford Hills, in preparation of adding another layer of blacktop to the road.