County declines to hold roundabout meeting


Milaca – The Mille Lacs County Board touched briefly on whether to host representatives from the city of Princeton who would make a presentation to the board about Mille Lacs County helping to fund the roundabout project at Highway 95 and 21st Avenue North/County Road 157.
The project has been in the works for more than a decade and was supposed to be built this year. The city planned to pay its local $490,000 share of the $1.63 million project with an assessment to benefiting properties, but there was major pushback and threats of litigation from those owners that could create yearslong legal roadblocks.
There is federal and state funding in the mix that expires relatively soon.
Princeton began exploring other funding options and has talked several times about how part of the roundabout project involves a county road; therefore, it should be eligible for county funds. The city has repeatedly mentioned how proceeds from the county’s local sales tax enacted in 2016 could help with the project.
Mille Lacs County has repeatedly said all the projects planned for funding by the new sales tax had to be defined before the tax was enacted. It has questioned why Princeton did not respond to the invitations for meetings about what projects the tax should fund during the 10 years the tax is enacted. The county has stated more than once it is not willing to repeat the public hearing process that led to formation of the project list; it would have to repeat the process to alter the list.
County Administrator Pat Oman said he has suggested several other types of funding mechanisms available to the city and is puzzled why apparently none of them have been considered. He asked if the commissioners wanted to allow Princeton to come and talk more about it. Commissioners mostly did not see the point of having a meeting so that Princeton could formally ask the county for something it cannot give.