Council provides more money for fire building repairs
RED WING — Fire departments are prepared to handle a torrent of water coming from a hose, but what about a leaky building? Only if some extra funding is available.
Red Wing Fire Chief Tom Schneider is thankful that the city council dug deep to find exactly that at Monday's meeting.
The original restoration of the downtown facility, which was built in the early 1980s, was projected to cost about $70,000, though extra funding was earmarked for up to $125,000. However, those figures both proved to be far from adequate.
Schneider and project manager John Felton of Building Restoration Corp., asked the city Monday night for another $50,000 — pushing the total to $175,000 — due to "additional surprises" once the project began.
The council agreed to the request in an unusual way. It will borrow the money from the 2011 budget, effectively reducing next year's available money by $50,000. It could have tackled the project in two parts, which would save money this fiscal year but cost about $15,000 more in the long haul.
Public works director Rick Moskwa supports the council's decision.
"We are behind in most of our building (repairs) — clearly behind," he said. "If we keep deferring them, we'll only get farther behind."
The funding will cover replacements of wall flashing material, repairs to the cracked brick facade and replacement of metal capping along the roof, though not the roof itself. The roof might need to be replaced in the next few years.
The project began April 19 was expected to take six weeks but will now take significantly longer, according to Schneider.
The fire department was also the focus of an explosive finish to Monday's council meeting.
After crunching some numbers, Mayor John Howe took issue with the city's purchase of land last year for a second fire station on the north side of town. The city paid $350,000 for 1.46 acres and received another 1.2 acres as a gift. On Monday, Howe said that figure is about three times the assessed value of the land and that the deal also reduces the tax base by more than $12,000 a year.
Council President Mike Schultz challenged Howe's claim and said that the land for the new Kwik Trip just of U.S. 61 was purchased for three times what the city paid for the fire station site. Howe's response was cut off when Schultz ruled him out of order.
Later, the mayor said he intended to say that commercial property with access to a major road is expected to cost more.
There is no date set for the construction of the new fire station, though it was originally planned for 2013 at the earliest.