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City of Morris considers Public Improvement Code update

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MORRIS - Morris City Manager Blaine Hill presented the council with a draft of a major revision to the city's public improvement code, which he believes is necessary to reflect how public improvements are currently being made. In the proposal, the wording of the code will also be changed to reflect common language, including an update of terms and phrases to reflect the construction processes the city already uses.

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"I'm not asking for the City Council to take action to do an ordinance to update this code right now," said Hill. Instead, Hill hopes to use the revised policy in planning for the city's 2013 construction projects to see what impacts the changes will have.

"We can see what the potential will be for assessments," Hill wrote in a memo to the council. "One key is the actual bid amount and how that will affect the assessments. We won't see that until about March."

The biggest change to the code is a revision to how the city does assessments.

Currently, the city does not assess for pavement, despite it being written in the code that pavement should be assessed. Hill said that Morris is one of the few cities that does not assess for pavement, but that pavement should be assessed like water and sewer in order to help the city fund improvement projects. In the updated code, Hill recommends assessing 75 percent of the cost of pavement for road construction and reconstruction.

Also in the recommendation, Hill wrote that the updated code will describe "public improvements, their useful life, and how each are assessed." The updated code will be applied city-wide to establish standard measurements and procedures depending on how the street is used. Right now, Hill said that many streets of Morris are of various widths.

"We're just trying to come up with some standards," explained City Inspecting Engineer Jay Fier.

"If you build things the right way, they're going to last as long as they're supposed to last," added Hill.

Of the updated language in the code, Hill said that any codes should be written in a way that they are actually being used. He said that the city should look at how things are being done now and incorporate them into the public improvement code.

City schedules final hearing on Pacific Avenue project

The Morris City Council approved $18,740 in assessments and scheduled a final assessment hearing for work done this summer on Pacific Avenue at their regular meeting on Tuesday.

The improvement included construction from County Road 22 to Highway 28 in Morris. Included in the construction were sanitary sewer mains, storm sewer, individual service lines, curb and gutter, and used bituminous paving.

The total cost of the project was $539,425. Of this, the City of Morris will pay $520,685, and $18,740 will be assessed to the benefitting property owners. Each of these assessments are on file for public inspection at the Morris City Office.

A public hearing on the final assessments will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 5:20 p.m. at the Morris Senior Center.

As under state law, notice of the assessment amounts and the hearing date was mailed to each affected property owner. Property owners have 30 days from the date of the hearing to pay for the assessments without having to pay interest.

Other business

• The council accepted a $6,500 award from the Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and Education for firefighter training.

• The council approved a memorandum of understanding with AFSCME Union Local 2022, General Unit, to extend the sunset clause date to December 31, 2014 for the severance contract.

• The council approved election judges for the Nov. 6 general election.

• The council passed a motion to apply for a DEED Small Cities Development Program grant to allow owner-occupied housing rehabilitation through the Stevens County HRA.

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Kim Ukura is the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune. 

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