Melrose – The city of Melrose is requesting $5.75 million in state bonding money to help fund an estimated $11 million wastewater treatment facility expansion project, which is in the design phase. This is among the more than $5 billion in capital spending requests from local governments and state agencies as legislators look at a bonding bill during their 2020 session. 

On Oct. 1, seven members of the 18-member Minnesota State Senate Capital Investment Committee – Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria), Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester), Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm), Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood), Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) and Sen. Jerry Relph (R-St. Cloud) – met at the Melrose City Center with Melrose officials and employees, listening closely to learn about the Melrose project. It was one stop on a three-day Senate bonding tour around the state. 

Also present was Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake), who represents the Melrose area. 

“We’re bonding next year and bonding is a big issue and Melrose has a big project,” Sen. Westrom said before the 30-minute meeting in Melrose started. 

Melrose City Administrator Colleen Winter provided information on the city of Melrose and how this project is about investing in the city’s future. She explained Melrose, with a population of 3,667,  is diverse, growing  and continues to be a regional employment center, providing more than 2,700 jobs. She attributed the growth to gains in both the commercial and industrial sector, including CentraCare Health System,  Jennie-O Turkey Store, Proliant, Land O’ Lakes, Warrior Boats, Carstens Industries and Melrose Metal Works.   

The wastewater treatment plant expansion would help meet the growing needs in Melrose which has a large industrial and commercial base with high water/wastewater needs. The plant improvements will increase capacity, improve reliability and improvement treatment. 

Melrose Water/Wastewater Supervisor Tim Vogel and consultants Tracy Ekola and Susan Danzl, with SEH, the city’s engineering firm working on the wastewater treatment project, answered questions from the senators. 

Winter told the committee while the city is requesting state bonding money to help pay for the overall project cost of $11 million, the remaining funds would come from a Public Facilities Authority Loan and rate increases the city has put in place since 2012.  

“As a city we have done a very good job with our Capital Improvement Planning and maintaining our public facilities, including the wastewater plant. As regulations have increased and efficiencies improved, we need to make sure we upgrade our plant to serve our customers well into the future,” she said, concluding her presentation by saying, “In order to stay competitive and continue to be that regional employer, we need the state’s help to keep our rates stable and attract a good economic mix.” 

Before the committee left for their next stop in Alexandria, Winter put in a plug about other projects the city of Melrose is hoping to receive state bonding money for, including bridge replacement. 

Sen. Westrom, before the meeting started, was thanked by city officials, for his involvement in this project. In an earlier press release he said, “Environmentally sensitive treatment of wastewater and solid waste is a daily need we all count on.”

Referencing the Melrose project, Sen. Westrom said, “Simple, infrastructure projects, such as these, are essential to our Greater Minnesota communities and the well-being of our state. I look forward to working with local officials and my colleagues in the Senate on an infrastructure bill that meets the needs of Minnesotans.”