City of Monticello - Press Releases

City of Monticello - Press Releases

Feb 22

Press Release: Spring Axle Weight Restrictions Begin February 26, 2024

Posted on February 22, 2024 at 2:38 PM by Haley Foster

DATE:             February 22, 2024
                         For Immediate Release

CONTACT:      Ryan Melhouse
                          (763) 271-3227 | Ryan.Melhouse@ci.monticello.mn.us

Spring Axle Weight Restrictions Begin February 26, 2024

Monticello, MN – Spring Weight Restrictions on city roadways will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, February 26. The City of Monticello places spring road restrictions consistent with Wright County.

Axle weight restrictions are used to protect roadways during the annual spring thaw. The limits help prevent premature deterioration of pavement as the ground thaws. Typically, from February through May the gravel under the roadbed has high moisture content that can weaken the carry capacity of pavement and make the roadbeds more susceptible to damage. By restricting axle weight, the life of the roadways can be prolonged.

Posted axle weight limit signs govern the vehicle weights on city roads. All restriction limits are gross axle weights. Local governments are granted authority to implement these restrictions by Minnesota Statute 169.87.

The exact dates of the restrictions vary from year to year, so communication is released when they go into effect and when they are lifted. Additional information can be found on the MnDOT and Wright County websites:

The City of Monticello does not issue any over limit permits. Questions? Please contact Monticello’s Public Works Department at 763-295-3170.

Dec 14

Press Release: Updates From Xcel Energy and the MPCA on the Monticello Plant

Posted on December 14, 2023 at 4:08 PM by Haley Foster

Xcel Energy Media Relations
414 Nicollet Mall, 401-7
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 215-5300
mediainquiries@xcelenergy.com
www.xcelenergy.com

Groundwater recovery enters final phase at Xcel Energy’s Monticello plant

Updated estimates show total volume of water higher; no risk to health or the environment

MINNEAPOLIS (December 14, 2023) — A year after detecting a leak of tritiated water from its Monticello Nuclear Generating Station, Xcel Energy has recovered the majority of the tritium released and completed actions to contain the leaked water while remediation continues.

The company has removed about 7 million gallons of water from the ground and lowered groundwater tritium concentrations at the site by more than 90%. The low concentrations continue to pose no risk to public health or the environment, as previously confirmed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Tritium has not been detected in the nearby Mississippi River at any point, despite increased sampling by the company and state regulators.

In addition to permanently fixing the source of the leak during a maintenance outage in March 2023, Xcel Energy has taken numerous actions to contain the tritium to the site and facilitate its removal. The company has built an underground barrier wall as an additional groundwater containment measure, has drilled dozens of new wells to monitor concentrations in different areas of the site, has increased the frequency of its measurements and is finalizing a system of underground pumps to control groundwater flow.

“As part of our charge in providing safe, reliable and clean energy to communities, we are responsible for being good stewards of those communities and the natural environment,” said Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy–Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. “We have made significant progress over the past year to retrieve the water released from our plant and keep it on-site as we do so. We will continue to work closely with state and federal regulators to ensure a thorough remediation.” 

Upon first discovering the leak, Xcel Energy made an initial estimate of the total volume of tritiated water released. The estimate was based on the duration and flow rates of the leak known at the time. The company has since completed a detailed accounting based on more comprehensive information now available, including a higher flow rate of water and signs that the leak may have started a few weeks earlier than previously estimated. This updated and more accurate modeling places the total amount of water leaked between 750,000 and 900,000 gallons, including about 14 curies of tritium. 

The revised estimate does not present any concern for health or the environment, nor does it require any new measures as the company continues groundwater recovery. In line with state remediation guidance, Xcel Energy will continue its strategy to pump and store groundwater until all monitoring wells are below the EPA standards. The company continues to coordinate with state and federal regulators as well as local officials. After remediation efforts have finished, groundwater monitoring will continue for the remainder of the plant’s operating life.

Tritium is a compound that is naturally present in the environment and is commonly created in the operation of nuclear power plants. It emits low levels of radiation, similar to everyday materials people use and the food they eat. Tritium is only harmful when consumed in very large quantities. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, no tritium release from a nuclear power plant has ever posed a public health threat or exceeded EPA regulatory limits in drinking water.

Visit the Monticello groundwater page for more information. 

---Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Logo

DATE:             December 14, 2023
                         For Immediate Release

CONTACT:      Stephen Mikkelson
                          (218) 316-3887 | Stephen.Mikkelson@state.mn.us

Xcel Energy Inc. fined $14,000 related to tritiated water storage at Monticello nuclear facility


MINNEAPOLIS (December 14, 2023) — According to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) enforcement investigation, Xcel Energy Inc. began storing groundwater contaminated with tritium in aboveground storage tanks before obtaining a required permit at its Monticello nuclear power plant. Tritium is a radioactive material that leaked from the company’s facility last fall and required cleanup and on-site storage.

As part of Xcel Energy’s response and cleanup of the November 2022 release, the company needed to install temporary tanks. MPCA staff informed the company in March 2023 that the installation of storage tanks exceeding one-million gallons of total capacity would require an aboveground storage tank major facility permit.

After installing and filling more than 20 temporary tanks, the company began filling its newest tank with tritiated groundwater in early April, before obtaining the required permit. That tank increased the total capacity of its temporary tanks to just over 1.4-million gallons.

In addition to paying the $14,000 civil penalty, Xcel Energy was required to immediately obtain the permit before continuing its response and cleanup. The MPCA issued the appropriate permit in May 2023, requiring the use of temporary tanks to end by Nov. 1. The company has since transferred the tritiated water to a more permanent in-ground lined pond and has emptied and dismantled the temporary tanks.

MPCA rules and regulations are designed to protect human health and the environment by limiting pollution emissions and discharges from facilities. When companies do not fully comply with regulatory requirements, the resulting pollution can be harmful to people and the environment.

When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violations affected or could have affected the environment, and whether they were first-time or repeat violations. The agency also attempts to recover the economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

Dec 14

Press Release: City Council Approves 2024 Budget and Property Tax Levy - Dec. 14, 2023

Posted on December 14, 2023 at 1:44 PM by Haley Foster

DATE:             December 14, 2023
                         For Immediate Release

CONTACT:      Haley Foster
                          (763) 271-3202 | Haley.Foster@ci.monticello.mn.us

City Council Approves 2024 Budget and Property Tax Levy 


Monticello, MN – On Monday, December 11, City Council approved the 2024 budget and property tax levy at a public hearing. The total combined levy amount is $13,525,000 or an 8.6% increase. This includes the City of Monticello tax levy and the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) levy.

The adopted city levy is $13,034,000, an increase of $1,024,000 over the 2023 city levy. The HRA levy for 2024 will be $451,000, or $49,000 more than 2023. The HRA Levy is used to fund the activities of the Economic Development Authority (EDA), primarily housing and redevelopment projects within Monticello.


“Staff originally recommended an 8% increase for the levy. It was decided to bring forward 9% by council to put some more money into the Capital and General Funds,” noted Mayor Lloyd Hilgart.


After lengthy discussion, Council decided to remove some funding to the Capital Fund, dropping the City’s portion of the levy from 9 to 8.5%.

“In 2022 we did 2.7% levy increase, surrounding communities were doing a lot more than we were. Even the 6.1% in 2023 was pretty low considering inflation,” said Mayor Hilgart.

 

Councilmember Sam Murdoff agreed with Mayor Hilgart, adding that the previous year’s lower increases are also impacting this year’s levy amount.


“I understand the desire to have those lower numbers, but it’s not something that can always be done… Two years we only upped it 2.7% and now we’re paying for it. We did 6.1% when inflation has been going at 10% the last two years, and we were severely behind, and now we have to catch up,” added Councilmember Murdoff.


The levy was influenced by a variety of factors. This year, the city’s largest property taxpayer, Xcel Energy decreased in value shifting a greater part of the levy onto other taxpayers. Therefore, residential, commercial & industrial, and apartment properties will see a greater increase in property taxes regardless of the levy amount approved.


“We as a community, we have to figure out how we can continue to thrive and grow, sustain our current level, and succeed without the contributions from Xcel. Unfortunately, I don’t know that there’s a way to do that without adjusting our taxes that we as citizens pay,” said Councilmember Tracy Hinz.


City Council held several budget workshops from July through September of 2023 to weigh budgetary needs with the associated tax burden on property owners in the community. Their goal was to ensure consistent levels of services and programs the community has enjoyed in the past, while addressing the following increased or new costs:

  • Increases in the cost of local law enforcement
  • 3 elections in 2024: Presidential Primary, Primary, and General
  • Inflation and rising operational costs
  • Response to the spread of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in Monticello
  • Maintenance needs for assets like local pathways, which were cut from previous years’ budgets

What are Property Taxes used for?

About 1/3 of the funds are used to make the City’s debt payments, fund capital projects, and support the Monticello Community Center. The remainder of the levy is put into the General Fund.

The General Fund pays for city services like public safety, including the contract with Wright County Sheriff’s Office; snow and ice removal; and funding city departments. The tax levy funds larger projects over time as well as complete our day-to-day operations on behalf of the public. It’s divided as follows:

  • 30% of the general fund goes to public safety
    • This includes building inspections, the fire department, and law enforcement
  • 24% goes to public works
    • Public Works covers things like snow and ice removal, street maintenance, and the water department
  • 21% funds general government
    • For example, planning and zoning, finance, and administration
  • 17.9% goes to recreation and culture
    • This includes park maintenance, and the City’s contribution to the senior center and MontiArts
  • 7% for sanitation

“The hard part is, we have increased costs. Every year our costs go up just the same as everybody else’s. Unfortunately, we have to accommodate that, otherwise the only alternative is to start cutting services to the community. But if we do that, we’ll have people coming in here saying ‘hey we didn’t like that our street didn’t get plowed for two days or I got stuck trying to get out of my driveway because the street wasn’t plowed,’” said Councilmember Murdoff.


Councilmember Charlotte Gabler agreed, pointing out that each member of the City Council lives in the City of Monticello and is directly affected by these increases.


“I don’t like 9% just as much as someone doesn’t like the 10% or the 2% - but we have to do something in order to maintain what you call home every day: the City of Monticello,” she added.


Additional information about the City of Monticello’s budget and levy process can be found on our website at www.ci.monticello.mn.us/631/Levy-Budget. You can view the full presentation for the 2024 Budget and Property Tax Levy on the City’s website in the Agenda Center or watch the recording online.