The Blue Earth City Council held a special meeting on Thursday to discuss a potential annexation between the Township of Blue Earth City and the City of Blue Earth with Riverside Heights Residents.
The annexation had been authorized on February 21st, however, Mayor Rick Scholtes clarified that the council has not officially voted to annex Riverside Heights.
He added that the annexation had been under consideration for many years.
The council visited the possibility of annexing the area when they learned Riverside Heights is in need of a new sanitary sewer system.
Bolton & Menk had drafted an engineering estimate, laying out the cost of Riverside Heights’ alternatives for addressing the issue. Construction of a new sanitary sewer system is estimated to cost $498 per month, per resident, while connecting to the city’s sanitary sewer, without annexing to the city, would cost residents $301 per month. Connecting to the city’s system and annexing to the city would cost residents $193 per month.
The council clarified that Riverside Heights will not have the option of connecting to Blue Earth’s sanitary sewer if they are not annexed into the city, per city ordinance.
Riverside Heights residents explained their primary objection is the lack of notice they received before Frundt was directed to prepare for annexation, to which Mayor Scholtes responded that he was under the impression that the residents were invited to attend the previous meeting on February 21st.
The residents also wanted to know what a street and sanitary sewer improvement project would entail, should Riverside Heights be annexed.
The council clarified that the projects estimated cost assumes its eligibility for a Point Source Implementation Grant, which would fund 80% of the project’s eligible costs. City Engineer Wes Brown said he is fairly confident the project will receive the grant funds.
The project’s remaining cost will be funded much as any improvement project is funded in Blue Earth. Tax increases for residents would be phased in over five years. Starting in 2024, their property taxes would be paid to the city of Blue Earth, but their taxes would not increase until 2025, when they would go up by 20%. Taxes would increase by that amount for the next five years.