Members of the Minnesota House Capital Investment Committee stopped by Pine City on Tuesday as part of the preparation for the upcoming 2024 legislative session.
During the presentations at Pine Technical and Community College, representatives heard two bonding requests:
One from Pine City for $5 million to help cover improvements to the city’s aging wastewater treatment ponds. Built in 1961, the facility serves four communities, or 1,825 homes.
City staff says no major improvements have been made in the last 50 years. The existing pond slopes are not protected with riprap, so wear and tear from the elements and wildlife is causing damage that needs regular maintenance. The pond's aeration system is becoming inefficient due to aging pipes.
The total project cost for the pond improvements is estimated to be around $10 million. City Engineer Greg Anderson says they are looking into other forms of financing to make up the difference.
Pine City Supervisor of Public Works Maury Montibriand (left) and Engineer Greg Anderson (right) presenting to members of the House Capital Investment Committee. Taken by Joe Keyport.
The second request is for $2.5 million from Pine County for a jail remodel project. The county says the current layout of the jail is not up to current standards for the safety and separation of inmates and corrections staff.
Jail Administrator Rod Williamson says the project will include the installation of security walls to break up the already existing units, an expansion to the intake area, a reconfiguration of program space, suicide prevention measures, body scanner, and trace detection scanner.
Jail Administrator Rod Williamson. Taken by Joe Keyport.
Committee Chair Rep. Fue Lee said seeing projects in person helps when considering requests.
"It's really interesting, the Pine City water treatment ponds. [It is] really different to some of the other water treatment requests we are getting. I think it's good for the committee to get a picture of the different hosts of projects out there."
Representative Nathan Nelson is not on the committee; however, he represents the region and wants to promote area needs to his legislative peers. He says that funding these projects through state bonds will help keep the burden off the local community.
"It's a growing community, but at the same time, we are a fairly low-income community. We really want to be careful what kind of burden we are putting on our taxpayers," Nelson said.
East Central Minnesota is the first stop on the House Investment Committee’s tour. The group will be touring the entire state through the month of November.
Taken by Joe Keyport.