City bonds to include sports, MERIT Center

MARSHALL – City bonding for 2014 was the focus of a meeting of the Marshall City Council Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday afternoon. Committee members looked at preliminary bond figures for city projects like street and utility improvements, as well as for a planned amateur sports complex and expansions at the Minnesota Emergency Response and Industrial Training (MERIT) Center.

Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig presented committee members with draft figures, which he said are still undergoing revisions. Martig said the bond run for the sports center and MERIT Center was estimated to maximize the state bond authorization for the projects, at about $17 million. Martig said the bond issue would be financed from the one-half percent general sales tax the city set for the two projects, although it would be pledged with the general obligation of the city.

Martig said maximizing the bond authorization for the sports center and MERIT Center would help set more solid construction budgets for the projects, while still giving leeway to get as much of the projects built as possible. However, he cautioned committee members that the projects don’t have finalized designs and construction budgets yet. The design process is running behind schedule, he said.

A combination of local sales taxes and state funding are making the amateur sports center and MERIT Center expansions possible. While the Minnesota Legislature approved $4.298 million for the sports complex in a construction bill last week, the MERIT Center didn’t receive the $2.5 million in bonding money that it had requested to help fund expansions.

The 2014 city bonding process will be one of the issues going before the Marshall City Council at its next meeting, Martig said.

At Wednesday’s meeting, committee members also heard a preliminary report on a city facilities assessment done by ESG/Honeywell. Representatives from the two groups went over areas where Marshall could make city-owned buildings more energy-efficient and reduce costs. The savings from making city buildings energy-efficient could be used to fund other city projects, they said.

Engineer Bob Huber said ESG and Honeywell looked at city facilities including the municipal building, the Marshall wastewater treatment plant, the Marshall-Lyon County Library and the Adult Community Center.

Huber said among the group’s recommendations were installing energy efficiency measures for electrical and hot-water systems in city buildings, using programmable thermostats, replacing existing lights with LED bulbs and checking city buildings for sealing and insulation deficiencies. The city of Marshall could save an estimated $60,000 to $80,000 a year in energy costs and $10,000 to $20,000 a year in operational costs, he said.

Madonna Rykken of Honeywell Building Solutions said the group’s next step would be to prepare an investment grade audit, if the city chose to continue with facility updates. Huber said it could be possible to remove some items from the project, depending on what the city decides to do with its municipal building downtown.

Committee member Glenn Bayerkohler said the city’s next step would be to consider the findings of the assessment.