Mayor Teri Lachermeier
Teri Lachermeier, Mayor
Email Teri Lachermeier
Greetings! I come to you the community of Buffalo with gratitude in my heart. Without the wonderful people who live here and invest in our great city this would not be possible. A great thank you to our city staff who hold it all together, our council and our city board members as well.
I hope this recap of 2023 highlights the City of Buffalo's accomplishments and gives a glimpse of what we can look forward to and are working on in 2024!
Sincerely from Your Mayor,
Executive Summary 2023
A community where excellence and opportunity come together.
- Phase 1 completed of the reconstruction of Highway 25
- Portion of Pulaski Road Improvement Completed
- Completed 2040 Comprehensive Plan and Facilities Study (PDF)
- Entered into Purchase Agreement for a New Business Park along Hwy 55
- Purchased Land for a New Electric Substation to increase reliability and serve our growing population
- 2024 Preliminary Budget Plans for large investment in street maintenance
- Phase 1 of the City's Fiber Utility moving forward
The City of Buffalo strives to provide superior services and a safe environment to live, work & play. The City and its stakeholders will meet the changing needs of the community through innovation and collaboration.
City Council Core Strategies:
- Foster welcoming culture of engaged & active citizens
- Maintain & Improve Public Infrastructure
- Maintain Fiscal Responsibility
- Provide a Safe, Secure & Healthy Community
- Provide Planned & Sustainable Growth
- Provide a Supportive & Balanced Business Environment
- Continue to be a Collaborative, Inclusive & High Functioning Team
- Continue Evolving the Quality of Life for the City of Buffalo’s Diverse Needs
Street Projects Underway:
- The TH 25 reconstruction from Downtown Commons to Settlers Parkway started in 2023 and will wrap up in Summer of 2024. The projected was funded through a combination of federal, state and local dollars.
- The proposed Ryans Way Extension to 1st St NE received federal funding for a portion of the project. The project is expected to begin in 2025 and be completed in 2026.
- A preliminary scope has been approved for 2024 street maintenance projects. The scope is subject to change and will not be final until bids are received and the City Council approves a contract. The preliminary scope can be found by clicking here.
Pavement Management Plan:
The City Council received the updated Pavement Management Plan in late 2022. Funding of the plan is a priority of the City Council and the 2024 budget includes $800,000 for pavement maintenance activities. This is an increase of $300,000 from the 2023 budget.
Community Planning & Economic Development Update:
The City of Buffalo's online permitting software continues to reduce staff time and streamline paperwork to better serve our residents and businesses.
- Arbor Meadows with 52 single-family homes
- Greenbriar Hills - 7th Addition with 61 homes
- Settlers Brook – 1st Addition with 44 single-family homes
- Creekside Manor – 40-unit 55+ apartment complex
- Chipotle / Starbucks – To be located at the intersection of State Highway 55 and 14th Street (south of Buffalo Animal Clinic).
- SouthPoint Credit Union – To be located just north of the Allina Clinic on Crossroads Campus Drive.
- Larson Builders Expansion – includes the construction of a new 4,500 square foot commercial / retail building in Buffalo’s downtown area.
- The Wright County Economic Development Authority (EDA) has entered into a Letter of Intent with a developer for the old Government Center property in Buffalo’s Downtown. The City will be guiding the zoning and larger redevelopment of this downtown parcel in conjunction with the developer over the next few years.
Buffalo Community Plan:
The Buffalo Community Plan is the City’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan that will guide development and City goals and priorities for the next few decades. It includes future Land Use plans, areas targeted for additional open space, and key projects for the city to explore. With this document now completed, Staff is now pursuing policies and recommendations stated in this document.
Buffalo Business & Commerce Park:
The City of Buffalo Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) has entered into a Purchase Agreement to acquire 89 acres of a former gravel pit on State Highway 55 for use as a future Business and Commerce Park. The development of the entire park will likely be in 2 phases, with the City to seek various State funding sources to build out this park alongside the City’s investment. Lots will then be sold to buyers that meet a list of criteria (light industrial uses, proposed job creation factors, etc.).
Streets & Maintenance Department
2023 started by what it seemed like plowing snow every day! Our team did an awesome job at keeping up and being patient and accommodating our residents as much as possible. Spring came and we spent 1 full week of crack filling to repair as many roads as we could and were happy with the results. Our Summer and Fall schedule was filled with pot holing the roads. Our department purchased 300 tons of tar this year hauling it 4 tons at a time on our trailer. We spent 1 month trimming trees that were in the Right Of Way and will continue with this project next summer as well. In the Fall, we use our time to sweep leaves off the roads and prepare for Winter weather. We are excited to use our brand new Plow truck. Our crew thought it would be fun to name our new plow and came up with 4 different names to pick from. "The Tornado" was the final outcome. This year we have great plans and opportunities for further street improvements to be accomplished and we look forward to a successful year!
Parks & Recreation
Community Center & Civic Center
General Parks and Rec 2023 Recap:
- Our online registration continues to provide residents the ability to make reservations & online payments for convenience and ease.
- We were awarded an Outdoor Recreation Grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the West Pulaski Park Improvement project. The Community will benefit from additions such as improved parking, new trail sections, and a splash pad facility!
- Completed a long-term park capital improvement plan to help fund and plan for replacement of playground equipment, facilities, and vehicles.
- Concerts in the Park was a popular place to be and enjoy our beautiful park and lakeview. We were told this was the best line-up ever, and the visitor experience was enhanced by weekly food vendors and fun activities provided by Community Center staff.
- Community events included the Easter egg hunt , State Fair day, Octoberfest and touch a truck, to name a few.
- The outreach events at the library, concerts in the park and at ECFE programs have proven to reach a broader audience and have drawn in new users to the Community Center.
- Facility event rentals have increased this year after a few cosmetic updates to the interior of the building.
- We continue to reach youth with a variety of activities including Teen Nights, TotSpot Tuesdays, Family Fun Nights and more.
- We also support the Buffalo Community Toy Shop and Bison Fishing Forever volunteer groups and love how they bring joy to our community with the work they do.
- Thank you to those who have supported our efforts by volunteering or sharing the events with the community.
- This was the first full year with new Manager JP Wright! We are appreciative of all the work and updates he has done.
- We have new in-ice sponsors and logos to give the Civic Center a fresh updated look.
- The Beer & Bags Festival was a huge success and will be an annual event.
- The new scoreboard & locker room clocks were a great addition for our Hockey Players and dedicated fans to enjoy.
- We look forward to a busy and successful year in 2024!
- We hosted our 3rd Annual Arbor Day Tree Planting at Buffalo Hills Park on May 6. 10 trees were planted in the park and look forward to next year’s event in early May 2024.
- Continuing to remove trees with the Emerald Ash Borer and new trees will be planted in Spring of 2024. The Protecting Community Forests Grant from the MN DNR has helped with this effort.
- Many residents & friends enjoyed our Pickleball courts and the courts at Swan Park will have updates this year.
- A new outdoor hockey rink was constructed behind the Civic Center for another opportunity for winter recreation.
- Safety surfacing has been upgraded around the playground structures at West Pulaski, Griffing, and Sturges parks. Sturges Park received a new structure for ages 2-5 to enjoy.
- Additional trail sections were added in the Greenbriar Hills and Arbor Meadows developments. Multiple trail sections were improved throughout the City and we will continue the improvement of our entire trail system.
Free Concerts at Sturges Park Bandshell Thursday Evenings June through August:
They are designed to be fun family events to bring the community together and enjoy summer evenings on Buffalo Lake. They begin at 7:00 pm and last until 8:30 pm. Bring your chairs or blankets to enjoy!
We rely solely on generous donations from the public and sponsors to book the finest talent. Donations are welcomed year round by filling out the Donations (PDF) form.
Flora of Buffalo Beautification Program:
This program is run by city employees and community volunteers. This program could not be possible without the generous donations from residents and businesses in our community. Link to page
Buffalo Municipal Utilities
Buffalo Fiber Moving Forward
- We installed and added 40 residential & commercial customers in 2023 and we have more on our schedule for 2024.
- Our City Council approved funding to support the phase 1 buildout that will establish better connections and infrastructure to key strategic areas in the City of Buffalo.
- We are providing fiber Internet to all new subdivisions, and exclusively to new apartments in the City of Buffalo.
Utility Innovation & Technology Advancements
- Several departments are working together to research a centralized work order management system / asset management system. This will allow better control and automation with service/work orders. The ability to track work done in the field, time spent, materials costs, and a host of other things as well. We will also be able to set maintenance schedules and jobs for building, parks, vehicles, and other assets.
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is kicking off in November. Core & Main reps will be out and meeting with us as well as starting the process site visits of our facilities to begin our test area.
- We have worked hard this year in getting mobile devices like cell phones and tablets into the hands of our crews so that they have better access to and the ability to check their related systems and plants.
Challenges Moving Forward
Challenges we face include the time and cost of getting fiber infrastructure in the ground, adding Fiber Technicians, and long lead times on equipment and supplies.
- New Construction: We provided new infrastructure for commercial development and two new residential areas. Overhead lines were removed in preparation of future roundabouts planned on Hwy 25. The Electric Crew also plays a crucial part in providing initial directional drilling for our Buffalo Fiber Utility to better serve several commercial customers and complete a redundant loop back to City's Central Offices.
- Mutual Aid: After a significant storm damage disrupted power to the City of Mora, we were able to send some of our Electric staff to help with the repairs. We also prepared to send staff to Florida again for hurricane season, but did the weather did not impact our mutual aid areas.
- Staff Advancements: Two apprentices completed their hours and training to become journeyman lineman for the Buffalo Municipal Utilities. Congratulations to Zach Stamp and Paul Senstad on their dedication and achievements in their lineman careers.
- AMI: Advanced Metering Infrastructure will be implemented with all new electric meters capable of interval reads and fully optimizing the process and communication for the customer. This system will eliminate the need for staff meter reading.
- The lead time on critical infrastructure is still at 1 – 2 years out and even further for larger infrastructure supplies.
- Our interconnection timeline will be challenging with the increase in Clean Energy MISO projects. These projects impact substation interconnections.
- Staff will be installing and deploying ArcGIS Enterprise in the year 2024. This software system will allow for greater efficiencies and new opportunities in mapping and visualization, data collection and management, analytics and secure data sharing.
- We are continuing the development of the City’s Storm Water Management Plan and our Adopt a Storm Drain program has grown.
- The City of Buffalo staff appreciates all that residents do in helping keep our streets, storm drains, ponds and lakes clear of trash, organic matter and pet waste.
- With the automation of services and building out Buffalo Fiber infrastructure, our GIS department will be challenged with collecting more and complex data and ensuring accuracy.
Our team consists of three dedicated IT professionals, each possessing diverse knowledge, skills, and abilities that cultivate a collaborative spirit and proactive approach in advancing technological goals. They provide 24/7 service for all internal departments and Buffalo Fiber customers as well as simplifying the network and educating staff on cyber awareness for the City IT framework and many diverse networks. The team remains focused for the City of Buffalo, aiming to serve with the highest standard of IT excellence as they provide central services to City staff and external stakeholders.
- Hardware: Continued focus on simplifying the networks and optimizing new technologies.
- End User Education: City staff continue to improve in all areas cyber security awareness participating in monthly training.
- Software: Optimizing software to support and effectively monitor all areas of the networks.
- Overall: Added further security layers, upgraded hardware & software, and updated policies to further protect our technological resources.
- Artificial Intelligence and the speed of innovative change.
- Increased Cyber threats and defense landscape.
- Reliance on new technologies to optimize departments, and maintain proper supporting levels
1st Annual Customer Appreciation Day: BMU Departments along with our Streets Department created displays that represented the work they do for the City. The City’s engineering firm, Bolton and Menk provided a delicious lunch for everyone. We were very pleased to have over 500 people join us to learn more about their community owned utilities. Staff and volunteers from Utility Billing, Finance, and Administrative Staff helped make the day a great success!
- Water Treatment Plant: The 700,000- and 500,000-gallon reservoirs were inspected, power washed and disinfected and reported to be in good to excellent condition.
- Actuator Valves: Staff is currently working on an actuator valve replacement project on all valves within the WTP that have aged past their useful life expectancy. Actuator valves open and close other valves during various operations in the water treatment process. The project will take several weeks and will be finished in 2024.
- Water Distribution System: . Field Staff located utility infrastructure and assisted contractors in connecting to existing infrastructure to new development construction for the MN State Highway 55 and Braddock Avenue reconstruction this year.
- AMR & AMI: Automatic Meter Reading systems are almost installed in all residential areas. The AMI (Automated Meter Infrastructure) system will be installed this year in commercial, industrial and institutional buildings.
- Conservation Projects: We have continued the community conservation outreach programs with youth groups and adults through the Buffalo Community Center and BHM summer education programs. Pollinator and vegetable gardens were planted and tended by Buffalo’s Little Sprouts, area youth groups and water conservation staff. Several adult and family events were held at the Buffalo Community Center and involved learning about energy and water conservation practices.
- Energy Blitz: We conducted an Energy Blitz in conjunction with the University of MN CERTS (Clean Energy Resource Teams) and the City’s energy partner, MMPA (Minnesota Municipal Power Agency). Staff volunteered their time and distributed water and electric conservation kits to the manufactured home park neighborhoods.
Drought continues to be a challenge across the State of Minnesota as water tables slowly rising to healthy levels. Through efforts from our residents, businesses and staff we are working together to protect our precious water resource.
Energy Blitz Volunteer Crew
Photo Credit: Aimee Dreger
Water Reclamation Department
- Staff jetted and cleaned approximately 23.3 miles of sanitary sewer this past summer.
- Lift 10 had a crucial upgrade with lower wet-end components & pumps.
- Lift 20 received upgraded lower guiderails and base elbows.
- The HWY 25 Construction project provided a significant opportunity to improve our collection infrastructure in that area. Lift 2 had both the tank side and wet-end components fully replaced. New redundant collection force mains were put in to prevent discharges and reduce inflow and infiltration (I & I) of the ground water. There were other areas of I & I repairs with sewer slip-lining and manhole hyperlining completed.
- Our primary goal is keeping our infrastructure connected and upgraded with technology to better plan, monitor, and enhance our Water Reclamation operations. Programable logic controllers (PLC) replacements are an ongoing upgrade.
- Our Pre-Treatment project is a significant upgrade to our water operations and is 95 % complete. There have been ongoing lead time issues, but the function of the upgrade is providing enhancement to the plant. Our primary goal is to create efficiency and proper maintenance, as our experienced staff continue to replace obsolete components. PLC’s, monitoring devices, and other technology components help make this a reality.
- Our incineration process of waste treatment underwent stack testing this year, we have exceptional emissions from our pre-engineering test. The performance test will provide similar results that are compliant with the regulations we are guided by. Continued regulations and costs will provide opportunities for us to manage operations in different ways in the future.
- Regulation in the water reclamation industry will change some rules of operation and could potentially increase costs. Staff continue to strategize and optimize areas to help balance and reduce costs.
- Installing our Buffalo Fiber lines to all our infrastructure locations continues to be a goal for the most reliable and fast data connections and improve communications.
- Budgetary constraints and looming debt put us in a position to highly prioritize projects, drive efficiencies, and look for ways to keep operating and capital expenses down. Increased costs in chemicals, assets, labor, and parts impact us as well.
Buffalo Police Department
At BPD, our Mission is to provide people focused public safety on a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 a year basis. Our police officers respond to wide variety of calls for service, from traffic complaints and traffic violations to more serious incidents and criminal complaints. Our department consists of three administrative/records staff, one community service officer, ten volunteer reserve officers, and nineteen licensed police officers. It is an honor and privilege to serve our residents and our city. We enjoy taking part in various community events and partnering with individuals, organizations, and businesses in raising security awareness. While keeping pace with the changes that affect our community, we are dedicated to providing the best service possible, and we look forward to the opportunities to protect and serve. We want to thank our community for providing us with those opportunities!
Buffalo Wine & Spirits 2023 Review
Two items that shaped sales in 2023 were the downtown road construction and both stores added hemp-derived THC products to their inventories.
Sales at the downtown store suffered due to detours for the Highway 25 construction project. Street closures made access to the store difficult, and customer counts dropped significantly from July to October. Business has picked up since the roads reopened, but not to the same level as before. Eventually, we expect a return to pre-construction levels.
This past summer, Minnesota became the 23rd state to legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational usage. The new legislation also allowed liquor stores to sell non-marijuana derived THC infused beverages and edibles. Navigating the new laws and regulations have proven to be challenging, but profitable for liquor sales. Customer demand for the THC products has been strong, and we now have over 100 individual products on our shelves.
We look forward to keeping our continued trend in 2024 in climbing sales at our Highway store and for our Downtown store to now be more accessible.
Buffalo Fire Department: 2023 Review
The BFD would like to thank everyone for all the support they have shown the last year and we wish you a safe 2024.
Happenings in 2023:
- Our June Open House was a huge success and we will continue the tradition in 2024 with an open house during Buffalo Days.
- Four new firefighters joined in 2023! Jared Sands, Lucas Bodell, Nick Janey, and Cole Snyder have been a great addition to our current roster of 35 firefighters. There is a plan for 2 more firefighter positions in 2024. Click here to learn more and apply to serve your community!
- Our dedicated Firefighters put in over 2300 hours of training including fire ground operations, hazmat operations, pumper training, leadership training, medical training, rural water shuttle training, aerial operations, structural fire training, water rescue, grain bin rescue, incident management and more.
- October is Fire Safety Month and we “trained” over 500 elementary and preschool students in fire safety.
- A new brush truck was ordered in 2023 and the fire department expects delivery in the first part of 2024.
Fire Calls in 2023
- Good news, BFD had a 10 percent decrease in Fire calls in 2023.
- The number of building fires decreased by 50 percent in 2023.
- Improper installation or maintenance of heating appliances are still a concern. Please remember, permits and proper inspections by the code official are required when installing or replacing heating equipment.
- Carbon monoxide incidents with detectable levels increased in 2023. Please replace your fire alarms and CO alarms every 7 to 10 years and remember to have periodic inspections on Heating systems and gas appliances.