New Councilor Colleen Foehrenbacher, returning Councilors David Gudmundson and Terry Hanson, and Mayor Jim Schott were all sworn in at the January 6 meeting. Annual designations will remain the same with First State Bank as official depository, Frederick Suhler as attorney, and Fillmore County Journal as official newspaper.
Mayor Jim Schott will move off his position with the Zoning Board. Resident Mary Kelly was offered as a candidate and approved. Foehrenbacher will take over for Hanson as Weed Inspector. All other appointments will remain the same: Gudmundson and Councilor Ron Reisner will serve on Streets, Gudmundson on Parks and Recreation, Reisner on Buildings, and Schott and Hanson on Water and Sewer.
The has city received letters, one with a proposal, from Unicom and Landmark Dividend, for the long-term lease of a wireless tower currently leased to AT&T. According to Schott, the letters indicated the companies would like to buy out the lease on extended year terms for a cash value price. They would then turn around and charge AT&T for usage of the tower. AT&T currently has equipment on the tower. The city would regain ownership of the tower after the lease term had expired.
The Unicom letter indicated two options for financial compensation. One, is a 55-year lease for $375,000-385,000. The second was a 20-year lease, with a renewable option, for $275,000. The Landmark Dividend letter offered no specific compensation details.
Schott further indicated that AT&T had no knowledge of either offer and that he found it suspect that the city received the two letters at the same time. “I figured it up what they were going to be paying us over that time. We’d be losing out. We make more money than that on our yearly AT&T lease,” he said.
AT&T currently pays the city $2,178 per month for an annual lease. Over 20 years this equates to $522,720 and over 55 years to $1,437,480. While there’s no guarantee the AT&T lease will remain for that length of time, it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon and if there’s this much interest in the tower, it’s unlikely the payment will drop in value.
“That sounds really fishy to me,” noted Councilor Ron Reisner.
“Then again, it would be a quick fix to fix our streets,” added City Clerk Mary Tjepkes.
“It would take care of roads, but how much of a hit would we take?” asked Reisner.
“We’re getting $25,000 per year currently, roughly $500,000 over 20 years. I don’t see that going down at all,” noted Foehrenbacher. “Unless there’s an immediate need for cash now, don’t see the need.” The council approved declining both offers and remaining with AT&T unanimously.
The council also considered the usage of the community center kitchen by a local 4-H group. The group wants to use it in March for their Winter Warm Up fundraiser. It was stated the city doesn’t normally charge non-profit groups to use the facilities, but that the typical hall rental fee is $400. After brief discussion, it was recommended to allow the group to use the center’s kitchen in exchange for a good-will donation.
There will be three upcoming public hearings, prior to the start of the next council meeting February 3 at the community center. At 6 p.m., there will be a hearing for the proposed adoption of the new Minnesota Basic Code from the League of Minnesota Cities. According to the League, it is “A complete model code of ordinances in compliance with state law, this option contains more than 300 pages of provisions on subjects typically encountered by small cities.”
The regularly scheduled council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. The meeting is also open to the public.