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Council approves $2.1 million bond sale for Highland Homes

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Council approves $2.1 million bond sale for Highland Homes
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

The Morris City Council on Tuesday approved selling $2.1 million in bonds to pay for infrastructure work in the Highland Homes Addition this summer.

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The work includes replacing sewer and water lines, installing storm sewers and a holding pond, curb and gutter replacement, street repairs.

City officials also were scheduled to meet with some residents Tuesday about obtaining easements for work needed on private property.

Mark Ruff, of the city's financial consultants, Ehlers and Associates, said sealed proposals for the sale of the General Obligation Bonds would be at 10 a.m., May 12. The proposals are typically considered in the evening, but the council is scheduled to have its annual meeting at the Morris Area High School auditorium that day.

According to state law, the bonds can be sold without a referendum because the city intends to assess property owners for at least 20 percent of the project costs, Ruff said.

The bonds will be paid off over 15 years, with the final payment due in 2025. The bonds are bank qualified because the city is issuing less than $30 million in a calendar year.

The city's closing date is set for June 1, at which time funds would be available to begin paying construction costs.

Ruff said interest rates could change in the next few weeks, but he anticipated a rate at about 4.3 percent. Despite difficult economic times and a reduction in the number of bidders for the bonds, Minnesota maintains a strong reputation for its stable bonds.

"Minnesota attracts a lot of bond buyers from a lot of different places because it's a stable place," Ruff said. "We're not Michigan."

In other council business:

• The council approved a measure granting Chief of Police Jim Beauregard the authority to hire a provisional officer.

Officer Dan Koski recently resigned, and the provisional officer appointment will help the city in the transition period, Beauregard said.

"It gives us some breathing room at a time that is pretty busy for us," he said.

The department will compile a hiring list from which to choose a new officer. The interim officer can apply for the position but must do so through the same hiring process as other on the list, he said.

The provisional officer must be licensed and can't serve more than 90 days, at which time a permanent replacement will be hired, Beauregard said.

• Morris was named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.

The honor comes because of the city's commitment to community forestry, according to the foundation.

It's the fifth year Morris has received the national recognition.

• The council approved a grant submission that could help the city offset much of the costs for new radios needed for the state's switch to an 800 megahertz system.

The Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response, or ARMER, is mandatory by 2011. The grant would pay for 95 percent of the cost of new radios for the city Fire Department. The city also will act as a funding agency for fire departments in Donnelly, Hancock, Alberta and Chokio.

The total equipment and training needs are $328,390, of which the city's share is $133,740. The city's 5 percent share after the grant money is applied is $6,687. The other departments' share is $9,732.

"It's a no-brainer if we can get in at 5 percent," said council member Jeff Miller, who is a Morris firefighter. "We have to do it in two years anyway."

Beauregard said the police department also is working on grants to pay for ARMER radios. A base station for the department likely would cost between $50,000 and $60,000, he said.

The ARMER system is intended for place all law enforcement and emergency response units on a unified system to make communications between agencies more efficient and effective.

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