In a rare move, the mayor of West St. Paul vetoed the city’s largest public works project on Thursday — a roadblock that City Council members said will soon be overruled.
Mayor David Meisinger, who was elected in November, campaigned on a platform of opposing the overhaul of S. Robert Street, the city’s main drag.
The street is filled with potholes and is a common site of accidents. The city has long planned to repair and beautify a 2½-mile stretch.
The City Council unanimously voted this week to accept Eureka Construction, Inc.’s bid for the first phase of the improvement project. Afterward, Meisinger said he was compelled to act.
The city’s charter grants the mayor veto power over matters that he does not have the right to vote on, such as the bid approval. So Thursday he submitted a letter to the city clerk vetoing the decision. He listed reasons, including:
“There has been no success by the city to constrain the ballooning costs of this project,” and “[West St. Paul] property tax dollars should not be used to rebuild a state owned highway and it is a bad precedent to set for a local municipality to fund the reconstruction of a state highway.”
City Council members said while the cost of the project is a concern, the repairs are long overdue.
“The road has not really been substantially repaired for 40 years,” Council Member John Bellows said.
The project was already delayed when the previous round of bidding came back with a low bid of $28.5 million — far more than expected, Council Member David Napier said.
Eureka Construction’s bid of $23 million was less than estimated.
Napier and Bellows said they expect a special meeting will be held in the next week or two to overturn Meisinger’s veto and keep the project on schedule.
Construction is expected to start in the spring.
“I don’t want to slow the project down,” Napier said.
Meisinger said he knew his veto would end up being just a procedural hurdle, but he had to stand by his campaign promise.
“It’s my integrity,” he said.