County approves $57 million in projects

The Anoka County Board has unanimously approved a 2014 capital improvements program totaling $57,195.425.

The county board action Sept. 24 came following a public hearing at which no one appeared. The board’s Finance and Capital Improvements Committee had recommended approval of the package.

According to Patricia Hetrick, county budget director, any project or equipment costing in excess of $100,000 goes into the capital improvements program.

Before the county board was a five-year capital improvements program, but the board only took action on the 2014 proposal, not for the years 2015-2018, which were included for planning purposes only, Hetrick said.

Of the $57,195,425 million in the capital improvements, only $16,694,345 will be paid from county funds, she said.

The rest of the money will come from federal, state and city sources, Hetrick said.

For the second straight year, the county will not be going into the bond market to help pay for capital improvements program projects, according to County Commissioner Matt Look, chairperson of the Finance and Capital Improvements Committee.

The county board has included funds for the capital improvements program as part of its regular 2014 budget, Look said.

“We have been preparing and planning properly for these costs and managing them without bonding,” he said.

Half of the $16,694,345 in county funds that have been earmarked for capital improvements will come from the county road and bridge tax levy – $8,370,200.

Other sources include the county building, library building, recorder technology and equipment funds and county loan program.

According to Hetrick, some of the projects included in the 2014 capital improvements program are dependent on state and federal dollars being received for them.

A case in point is the largest single project in the capital improvements program – $32 million for the interchange  proposed at Highway 10 and Armstrong Boulevard in Ramsey.

Whether that project goes ahead in 2014 is dependent on the county getting the $17 million that it has requested to be part of the state bonding bill that the Minnesota Legislature will be considering during its 2014 session.

Road and bridge projects make up the bulk of the county’s 2014 capital improvements program totaling $53,571,280.

Besides the interchange, other big ticket items are the annual pavement rehabilitation program $6.7 million, reconstruction of University Avenue in Blaine and Coon Rapids from 109th to 121st avenues ($8 million) and the reconstruction of Foley Boulevard from Highway 10 to Egret Boulevard in Coon Rapids ($2.93 million).

Federal dollars have been received for both the University Avenue and Foley Boulevard projects, with the county and cities picking up the balance – Blaine and Coon Rapids for University Avenue and Coon Rapids for Foley.

Money has also been set aside in the 2014 road and bridge capital improvements program for two roundabouts on Bridge Street in St. Francis ($1 million) and a roundabout at Kettle River Boulevard at Broadway in Columbus ($400,000) plus $2.5 million for three traffic signal projects.

The county board has set aside $1.29 million in the 2014 capital improvements program for building and equipment needs, including $500,000 for elevator upgrades in county buildings, $250,000 for courtroom remodeling and $200,000 for a carpet replacement program.

More than $1.85 million will be spent on technology upgrades, including $386,581 for network connectivity infrastructure and $379,350 for information technology server and storage infrastructure.

For the parks department, the capital improvements program allocates $195,000 for large vehicle and equipment replacement and another $195,000 for improvements at the county-owned Chomonix Golf Course in Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park.

Parking lot upgrades totaling $96,259 have been included for the Anoka County Library system in the capital improvements program.

Peter Bodley is at
[email protected]