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Flood project construction will continue despite shutdown

In light of the looming state government shutdown, the Austin City Council held a special meeting Thursday evening to discuss the city's flood mitigation project. The council unanimously voted to continue work on the project, despite the possible loss of state funding during the shutdown.

Funds from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources pay for 50 percent of the project's costs. City engineer Jon Erichson received a letter from the DNR June 27 saying the DNR might not be able to reimburse Austin for the eligible costs on the project during the shutdown.

If the city would have voted to cease work on the project it could potentially be on the hook for a claim from the contractor for expenses such as the equipment and affected schedules.

But Erichson told the council he doesn't think the issue of a reimbursement from the DNR would be a problem, even with the shutdown.

"Personally, I do not see them doing that," Erichson said. "I would hope that we would receive reimbursement for that."

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Council member Steve King said he recognized the risk, but he was willing to keep the construction going for two reasons: Flood mitigation is important to Austin, and he did not want to add this project to the list of services already being delayed by the state due to the shutdown.

"So I don't feel it's necessary to stop the program," King said. "I'm willing to recognize that risk and keep moving forward on it."

Roger Boughton made the motion to continue with the construction and also asked that the council review the status of the project in four to six weeks.

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