Council seeks PFA funding for project

By Chad Koenen


While construction costs are skyrocketing, the City of Henning received better-than-expected news concerning its upcoming 2nd Street underground utility and street improvement project. 

During its regularly scheduled meeting last Monday night, the Henning City Council received a low bid of $1.053 million from Sellin Brothers of Hawley, Minn., for the construction part of the project. The total project cost based on the bid will be $1.417 million, which is lower than the original estimated project budget of $1.74 million. Construction bids ranged anywhere from $1.053 million to more than $1.5 million.

However, before moving forward with the 2nd Street underground utility and street improvement project the city council is making sure Public Facilities Authority (PFA) funding is in place. The city has up to 75 days to award the construction project and is currently waiting to hear if it would receive PFA funding. 

“We are awaiting funding approval from the PFA,” said Bob Schlieman, of Apex Engineering.

The hope is the city will receive word about the PFA funding as soon as its next meeting in June. 

“In my career I have not received a city that did not receive funding,” said Schlieman. He went on to say that there have been cases where the city needed to raise its utility rates in order to receive the funding “because they need to make sure the money coming in can repay that loan.”

PFA funding provides low interest loans as an alternative to receiving conventional bonds that feature a higher interest rate. The city council approved the low bid from Sellin Brothers with a contingency that the city receives PFA funding. If the city does not receive the PFA funding it could opt to not complete the project. 

According to the estimated project schedule, Schlieman said the hope was to commence construction in June or July. The plan calls for the project to be substantially complete this fall with the first layer of bituminous being put on the street. A final layer of bituminous would be completed next summer when the project is completed. 

“The reason we do that is if there is any settling, or maybe there are a few weak spots in the street, next spring in the spring the contractor can come in address those and put the final finished layer of bituminous. It makes for a better product.”

Bob Schlieman, of Apex Engineering.

The project will include all of 2nd Street from School Ave. to Balmoral Ave. 

In other news

• Approved the Henning EDA recommendation to appoint Holly Weller to the EDA. 

• Approved allowing concrete, poles and electric for a grain bin shed at the Henning Festival Grounds. The hope was the project would be funded through donations. 

• Heard that Willow Creek received a $15,000 grant from the Espeland Foundation to purchase new flooring for the multi-purpose room at Willow Creek. 

• Discussed a concern over table prayer at Willow Creek. Willow Creek Director Lisa Augustus said two residents were uncomfortable with a public prayer at lunchtime. As a result, there will not be a formal table prayer, however, people can either pray in their rooms before coming to the common lunch area or residents can say a prayer at their table in the common room before eating. 

• Discussed the need for up to five pull stations at Willow Creek. Augustus said these pull stations are a requirement of an apartment style building, per the Minnesota Fire Marshall. The cost for the pull stations would be $1,725 for five pull stations. 

• Approved a request from Police Chief and Fire Chief Mike Helle to recognize the Henning Fire Department as a first responder unit. Helle said the fire department has essentially acted as a first responder unit in the past when both ambulances are out on calls, but the formal paperwork recognizing the department as a first responder unit has not been filed with the state of Minnesota.

• Heard that the Trinity group is seeking a grant for $130,000 to repair the steeple and bell tower at the former church. Jamie Wilson represented the Trinity group at the meeting and said there would be no financial responsibility for the city in seeking the grant. 

• Approved a resolution rescinding the city’s community health emergency the city council adopted in 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

• Heard from a resident who inquired about being annexed into Henning Township from the City of Henning. She said her home is located on Airport Road and the family does not receive any services like water or sewer from the city.