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Austin, MN City council approves $100 million in public improvements

Amanda Lillie, Austin Daily Herald

Austin City Council unanimously approved a plan Monday night for more than $100 million in public improvements over the next five years.

The plan includes upgrades ranging from street improvements and new police vehicles to biking trail expansions and bond issuance for The Hormel Institute expansion.

According to the summary of the five-year capital improvement plan, about $2.12 million of project funding will come from the local property tax levy. About $10.1 million will come from the local sales tax, which is used to fund flood mitigation projects.

Finance Director Tom Dankert emphasized to council members that an estimated $55.1 million of funding would come from grants. However, about $26.2 million of that will likely come from state and federal grants. An estimated $4 million is projected to come from Department of Natural Resources bonding bills. Included in the state and federal grant total is $13.5 million being requested from the state bonding bill for an expansion of The Hormel Institute. The local Port Authority would match the bonding funds with $13.5 million in bonds that would be paid off by the Hormel Foundation.

Many of the projects will likely be funded by user fees collected in local funds, such as the Waste Water Treatment Plant fund. City officials are hoping the Hormel Foundation will come through with some funding via donations, as well.

Included in the plan is about $5.5 million in funding from the foundation for projects. Dankert said some projects will not be undertaken if the funding isn’t available.

“Just because it’s in the plan doesn’t necessarily mean it will be done,” Dankert said. “If (the grants) don’t come to fruition, it will be put on hold.”

City Council members review and update the plan on an annual basis.

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