Austin plans 5 years of projects; City preparing for wastewater plan, fire station and more

Published 8:08 am Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Austin City Council voted to approve the 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan during its regular meeting Monday evening.

The plan, which covers expenditures for items such as street construction, treatment plants, and public safety, was discussed during a public hearing at the Monday meeting.

The total expenditure request is $121,536,100, to be broken down as follows:

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• 2018 – $23,888,600,

• 2019 – $20,774,000,

• 2020 – $28,038,500,

• 2021 – $19,725,000, and

• 2022 – $29,110,000.

The plan can be updated annually if necessary.

Funding for the plan will come from a combination of property taxes, investment earnings, user charges, and funding from outside donations and state and federal governments. For the most part, debt issuance will be used to pay for street projects, the cost of which at least 20 percent may be assessed to the property owners. The city intends to use bonding to pay for improvements to the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Part of the bonding is paid by Hormel Foods; however, a bond issue will not be needed should Hormel Foods pay cash for specific improvements.

The plan includes the following items:

Police Department – $716,000

The Austin Police Department will be looking to add one to three new marked cars per year, replace older unmarked cars, and replace or purchase new equipment, such as Tasers, computers, and a Throwbot Robot to be used in certain dangerous situations.

Fire Department – $631,000 (2018-19 only)

The Austin Fire Department wants to replace a fire engine and a fire brush truck as well as remodel the fire station to include upgrades, such as in the fire alarm system.

Library – $195,000

These funds will be used for general repairs around the library as well as replacing carpet/tiling, redesigning the children’s area, and renovating the restrooms.

Nature Center – $12,000 (2018 only)

The Nature Center is planning to use this to replace the carpet and tiling in the Ruby Rupner Auditorium.

Administration – $293,500

Costs include replacing office equipment at City Hall, upgrading election equipment, and funding a compensation study among other expenses.

Waste Water Treatment Plant – $41,674,400

By far the plan’s greatest projected expense, upgrades to the Waste Water Treatment Plant will have to be made in order to meet the standards set by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Central Garage – $3,390,000

Funds will allow for the construction of a cold storage building for seasonal equipment, replacement of the hydraulic vehicle hoist, and an addition to one of the central garage bays for extra storage among other things.

Waste Transfer Station – $70,000 (2020 not included)

The Waste Transfer Station needs upgrades for the office, bathroom, pavement and loading dock as well as maintenance work done on the compactor.

Airport – $1,755,000

The airport is in need of fuel tank upgrades, hangar maintenance, obstruction removal, and rehabilitation of the taxiway and runway among other expenses.

Street Improvements (Non State Aid Streets) – $11,640,000

Non-state aid streets scheduled for improvement from 2018-2022 are 12th Avenue Northwest, Fifth Street Northwest, Fifth Street Southeast, Seventh Street Southeast, 15th Avenue Southeast, Eighth Drive Southeast, 14th Avenue Southwest and 15th Avenue Southwest.

Street Improvements (State Aid Streets) – $6,200,000

State aid streets scheduled for improvements from 2018-2022 are First Street Northwest and 19th Street Northeast.

Trails – $2,630,000

Trail work scheduled from 2018-2022 includes work on the 11th Drive Trail connection, the Lyle Trail connection, and beginning the construction of a trail along Turtle Creek.

Sanitary Sewer – $14,125,000

Another major projected expense, work on the sewer system includes replacing manhole covers, lift station maintenance, interceptor repairs, refurbishing siphons under the Cedar River and addressing increased sanitary sewer flow during rain.

Miscellaneous Streets – $2,364,000

Expenses here include replacing or upgrading traffic signals, upgrading streetlights to LED, and improvements to pedestrian access on Oakland Place Southeast and Fourth Avenue Northeast in anticipation of the new Recreational Center.

Miscellaneous Other Projects – $9,300,000

Funds are needed for numerous projects, such as alley repairs, pedestrian ramp and sidewalk repairs, hazardous building removal, dam maintenance and replacement of the Fourth Street Northwest and Interstate 90 Bridge.

Parks and Recreation – $1,832,000

Parks and recreation projects include maintaining the Veterans Pavilion, painting the pool bottom, replacing the pool slide, refurbishing the Bandshell and updating playground equipment among other things.

Storm Water Utility District – $2,400,000

Funds would be used for projects like upgrading storm sewers, installing rip rap to mitigate shoreline deterioration, creating a regional storm water pond in the area of Sixth Avenue and 29th Street, and developing a storm water and ponding plan for the Cook Farm site.

Senior Citizens Center – $8,200 (2018 only)

The money will be used to replace the water heater at the Senior Center.

Flood Mitigation – $20,150,000

The second most expensive proposal, flood mitigation work plans include levee improvements, construction of the Wildwood Park Levee, structural protection of various areas and the acquisition of property subject to repetitive flood loss among other projects.

Mayor and City Council – $50,000 (2018 only)

Funds will go toward developing a schematic design for a multi-family building for the Riverview Housing Project, which was one of the City Council’s 2017 goals, in order to entice developers to build homes and alleviate the housing problem in Austin.

Economic Development – $2,100,000 (2020 and 2022 not included)

Economic development projects include redeveloping the dilapidated area of the north side of Eighth Avenue Northeast, cleaning up pollution on Port Authority property near Interstate 90 and 11th Drive and acquiring land for Industrial Park purposes.

For more details on the 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan projects and funding, visit