by Joni Astrup
The city of Elk River has officially broken ground on a $9.5 million public works facility expansion.
Officials gathered at the site at 19000 Proctor Rd. on a cold, windy afternoon Monday, April 16, for a brief ground breaking ceremony.
“This is just the beginning of what is going to become a phenomenal project,” said City Administrator Cal Portner.
Council Member Matt Westgaard, who was part of the committee that planned the addition, said the project has been in the planning stages for several years.
“This project will allow the city’s public works department the ability to more effectively and efficiently serve our community and to store, maintain and deploy maintenance vehicles from this facility for many years to come,” Westgaard said.
The 68,000-square-foot addition will more than triple the size of the current building and include:
•a new equipment storage area with an automated under-body wash system to help prolong the life of equipment.
•a new brining station to help with snow and ice control measures.
•a new equipment services shop. The equipment services department services all city vehicles from police and fire to parks and Elk River Municipal Utilities.
•new administrative offices, training and lunchroom facilities.
The existing building will also see some modifications.
Bids for the expansion were awarded by the Elk River City Council earlier this year.
Brian Recker, vice president of RJM Construction in St. Louis Park, said at the time that the project received very competitive pricing.
Total construction cost of the project is $8.8 million, with a total project cost of $9.5 million.
Work on the project is anticipated to be finished in January 2013.
City sells bonds for public works project
The project will be financed through a combination of profits from the city’s two municipal liquor stores, Northbound and Westbound, and a bond sale.
The liquor operation is contributing $2.75 million in profits to the project.
In addition, the city has sold $6,975,000 in bonds. The 20-year bonds carry an interest rate of 2.1852 percent.
“Your timing really couldn’t have been better,” bond consultant Mark Ruff of Ehlers and Associates told the City Council during the bond sale in February. “In the bond market there’s a really heavy demand for tax-exempt bonds right now and not a lot of supply.”
He said there was interest nationally in the bonds, in part because of the city’s “outstanding” credit rating of AA+, which is the same as the state of Minnesota and the United States government. The bonds were purchased by Morgan Keegan of Memphis, Tenn.
Because of the low interest rate on the bonds and the fact that the city was able to issue $100,000 less in bonds due to lower-than-expected construction costs, Ruff said the city will save about $1.4 million over the 20-year life of the bonds compared to what was anticipated.
“It’s hard to get excited about a bond issue,” Ruff told the council, “but if you can celebrate a bond issue, this ought to be the one that you can.”