Sleepy Eye Mayor’s message

Mayor Wayne Pelzel, City
Sleepy Eye
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

Today the focus of this column is going to be on some of the financial facets of the City.

This is budget time in the City. First, let me assure you that the City is in great financial shape, but that doesn’t mean that there is an unlimited amount of money available. Budgeting is going to be tight. When the recent road construction projects were planned, the construction of the remainder of Elm Street to 12th Avenue was very much in question as it meant an additional expenditure not included in the original project. The decision was made to build it, but it also meant an addition of nearly $100,000 that will need to be added to the City’s budget for the next three years. This decision to build Elm Street was good for the City, but has put the Council and the City in the position of not having a lot of discretionary money to work with.

There are always projects it would be nice to get done and this budgeting season is no different. Main Street and its appearance is one of those priorities. But City dollars would be hard to come up with. So here is one of the funding alternatives. Some years ago forward thinking people of the community formed the Sleepy Eye Area Foundation (SEAF) and this foundation contributed to projects like the Chief Sleepy Eye statue and park area. Although the foundation has been inactive for several years, we asked them to reorganize for the purpose of supporting some community projects. They are meeting with the Downtown Revitalization Committee to consider helping with some downtown projects. The Downtown committee is proposing permanent lighting of some or all the trees at various locations downtown. They also have some ideas about windows of vacant Main Street buildings.

Grants can also be very helpful to fund projects above and beyond what the City can do. The present 12th Avenue project is a prime example. That project is benefited by a $1.5 million federal grant. Another grant that the City is currently involved in is an LCCMR Minnesota grant (made up of state gambling money) to impact the sedimentation that is occurring in the east arm of Sleepy Eye Lake. We submitted this grant several months ago and just learned that the City had made it past the first cut. The grant was for $120,000 and would provide infrastructure that would reduce sedimentation entering the lake. A presentation will be made before the State LCCMR revue board to determine whether this project could go forward. This project is so important because the sedimentation rate is substantial. If it is allowed to continue the sediment flows into the lake and settles out. Then the only way to deal with it is to dredge and dredging is very costly, hard to get permits for, and difficult to find dredged material deposit sites. We were informed when we applied for this grant that there is a lot of competition for this money and so it could take several years.

The down side to grant writing is that it takes a lot of time to write a grant and the City really isn’t staffed to do grant writing. A volunteer from the Lake Improvement Committee wrote this LCCMR grant.

One of the new projects that the City is funding through the EDA is childcare provided by Little Sprouts Learning Center. The Center is making great progress and is currently at or nearly in a position to stand on its own.

The community has benefited from the Sportsmen’s Club recent donation of $6,000 to construct a picnic shelter in the camping area of Sportsmen’s Park. The new shelter is being built and should be a great addition to the park. Thanks, Sportsmen, for this donation.