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Rushford comes to terms with city hall financing


By Kirsten Zoellner

Mon, Jul 30th, 2012
Posted in Rushford Government

Two weeks ago, after much back and forth debate, the city began to move forward seeking bids for the city hall project. At that time, City Administrator Steve Sarvi had stressed the importance of the council being in some accord over where funding for the project would be drawn from. Presenting four financing scenarios, Sarvi laid out the options for the council this past Monday.

Coming in with the highest recommendation from Sarvi, and likely the most flexibility for the city, is a loan from the USDA through the Minnesota Rural Water Association. The maximum amount sought would be $200,000 on a 40-year, 3.5 percent note. The USDA loan would allow for prepayment at any time, which the city already has in its sights. The payment, if the full amount was financed, would be roughly $9,400 per year through a once a year payment. The loan would originate with the Rural Water Association, but would, in standard practice, be sold to USDA.

However, Sarvi was cautious to note that even though the city would potentially seek $200,000, only the actual amount of the project estimate and bid would need to be financed. In addition, should the city receive the USDA loan pre-approval, it can decline the loan should the project be deemed too expensive or alternate funding be found.

The second scenario involves either a micro or midi-loan through the Rural Water Association. While Sarvi noted the likely lower interest of this type of loan, the term would be either seven or 15 years and would allow no early payment until either three or five years. Higher payments would occur with this scenario.

A third scenario, debated in the past, is existing internal funding by the city. This drawing down of reserves is a risk for the city and is not recommended by Sarvi.

The last scenario, also deemed not effective due to the small scale of the project, would involve putting the issue before the voters on a referendum.

Following recommendations, the council dug into the details of a potential USDA loan. “We would work with city staff to find a way to accelerate payments and mitigate overall impact to the citizens,” noted Sarvi. This could be done two ways; either through aggressive budgeting with the Capital Improvement Fund or using EDA funds, which were noted as being “robust.”

“It’s somewhat political,” continued Sarvi, when asked how the budgets could be massaged to have a .....
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Public Health issues discussed

Mon, Jul 30th, 2012
Posted in All Government

Brenda Pohlman, health educator, informed the county board at their July 24 meeting about a site located at 11048 Hwy 52, Mabel, that was identified this past February as a possible clandestine drug lab. She said the owner was unwilling to accept re ..... 
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2012 Public Works projects and purchases

Fri, Jul 27th, 2012
Posted in Chatfield Government

By Karen Reisner David Morrill, McGhie and Betts, reported to the Chatfield City Council at their July 23 meeting that they had received six bids for the 2012 Water Distribution Improvements. The low bid was from Zenke, Inc. of La Crescent with a ..... 
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Government this week

Fri, Jul 27th, 2012
Posted in All Government

• Wednesday, August 1, Canton City Council, Canton City Hall, 7:00 p.m. • Thursday, August 2, Fountain City Council, Fountain City Office, 7:30 p.m. • Monday, August 6, Lanesboro City Council, Lanesboro City Hall, 5:30 p.m. • Monday, Augus ..... 
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Monthly meeting of the Ostrander City Council

Tue, Jul 24th, 2012
Posted in Ostrander Government

June 5, 2012 Pledge of Allegiance The monthly meeting of the Ostrander City Council was called to order at 6:00 p.m. by Mayor Linda Schwenn. All council members were present. Approval of Consent Agenda Motion by Thompson, and seconded by Kunert ..... 
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Government this week

Mon, Jul 23rd, 2012
Posted in All Government

• Monday, July 23, Chatfield City Council, Chatfield City Hall, 7:00 p.m. • Monday, July 23, Rushford City Council, Rushford City Hall, 6:30 p.m. • Monday, July 23, Spring Valley City Council, Spring Valley City Hall, 6:00 p.m. • Tuesday, ..... 
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Preston City Hall remodel progressing

Fri, Jul 20th, 2012
Posted in Preston Government

City Administrator Joe Hoffman reported at the July 16 meeting that the city hall remodel project had begun and that they were on budget at this point. The council had accepted a quote from H and J Construction to do the remodel at their March 14 ..... 
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Rushford to seek bids on city hall project

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Jul 20th, 2012
Posted in Rushford Government

The debate regarding Rushford’s proposed city hall conversion and the library project continue. While the council has tentatively approved the city hall move to the former and vacant municipal liquor store, including preliminary design work, little has been finalized due to lack of funding. Both inside funding, using money from existing city funds, and outside funding, such as a USDA loan are both up for consideration, yet it’s unclear whether either is what the council wants for the city. “I’ll be honest, I think it’s unreasonable to spend $160,000 to move city hall down there,” noted Councilor Roger Colbenson. “How do we go about getting it done?” To date, the city has considered leasing the building to an outside entity, transferring it to the Economic Development Authority, letting it sit vacant short term until funding can be raised, and converting it into the city hall space. While the first three options might garner little cost to the city, there has been very little interest in them and options to lease the building were not successful. “Maybe it doesn’t make sense,” responded Councilor Vern Bunke. “Maybe we shouldn’t be spending any money. I’m not hellbent on spending money anywhere until we get a handle on this. I made a motion to move city hall down there, not to approve $160,000 being spent, but a motion to explore the possibility. It’s got to be cost effective.” The proposed $160,000 comes from architect Jose Rivas’ study of the building, yet there is no actual bid estimates. The council has discussed doing the conversion in phases, but the architect would need to review the project as a phased and restructure his estimate, all at added cost. “Here’s the bid package. Bid it, period. We paid for an architect, we paid the money to do all the stuff, and we sit here and argue about it. We’ve got a package ready to go, let’s see what it costs. We still have no idea what it will actually cost,” added Councilor Mark Honsey. “The council needs to come together on a funding source,” noted City Administrator Steve Sarvi. “We never really looked at where we think we can get funding. We were always going to apply as part of the library project, but we were taken off the project and stopped looking for other sources.” Unanimously agreeing, the council has approved putting the architect’s estimate out for bids if only to see what the conversion will actually cost. City staff has also been directed to consider any and all funding options for a conversion, including both inside and outside funding sources. On the other half of the issue, Library Director Susan Hart read a statement to the council in light of recent comments and editorials by some council members. “I have grown tired of misinformation,” she read. “I usually just let it go as not worth the time and effort, but lately I pondering that if misinformation and untruths are repeated long enough and loudly enough, it will then become the truth in the minds of those who want to believe it.” “While it is true that at the end of fiscal year 2011, the city cash reserves were at 11 percent, as FEMA reimbursements come in, that scenario is changing. The citizens of this community should be grateful that prior councils had built up healthy reserves while still encouraging economic growth. The latest financial charts and graphs from Mike Bubany, of David Drown Associates, show per capita debt over a thousand dollars less than quoted ‘fact.’” “There has been one active capital campaign for a new library. The city did not ‘bail out’ the library board’s efforts. The fundraising project has not failed, it just had the rug pulled out from under it by this council stopping the library project, interfering with FEMA funding by rescinding project application, and losing the USDA loan and grant through stalling and massive changes to the scope of the original project. We has really only just begun to fund raise. The library board has returned, upon request, over $200,000 in cash, pledges, and in-kind offers from those who believed in the new library project. “Where is the city strategic plan? What action goals have been set for the city? What has been accomplished in the last couple of years that was not already part of a project underway and moving towards completion? If your ‘plate’ isn’t full, with plans for the future growth of the city and with ways to expand the tax base, you may not be doing your job as a city governing representative,” concluded Hart. The city will continue to wait as the council works to find a suitable resolution to both the city hall and library issues. In other news, the plans for a new Brooklyn Park are underway. The former park was uprooted due to massive utility work following the flood of 2007 and upgrades will need to be made to the site per guidelines. The neighborhood group, spearheaded by Heidi Halverson, has been working diligently with the city on a plan for the site and has a tentative design in place. Working cooperatively with the neighborhood group, the city has approved a plan for the playground with the stipulation that all of the funding for the project is in place prior to any construction start. The city will offer site preparation, insurance, and maintenance of the park, as well as $5,000 in funding, which was set aside for the project at the end of 2011. The projected cost to the new park and play structure is expected to be just under $31,000. The neighborhood group has already conducted fundraising of its own, but grant writing, with approval from the council, will need to be done to seek the remaining funds. Carolyn Dunham will do the grant writing on behalf of both groups. The next regularly scheduled meeting is Monday, July 23, at 6:30pm, at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend. ..... 
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Lanesboro City Council has joint meeting with EDA

Fri, Jul 20th, 2012
Posted in Lanesboro Government

The Lanesboro City Council held a joint meeting with the Lanesboro Economic Development Authority (EDA) on July 18, 2012, to discuss the Lanesboro 20/20 plan. They also held a special meeting to discuss storm sewer and sewer line repairs. Hal Cropp of the EDA led the joint meeting, and said they were very pleased to meet with the city and discuss the 20/20 plan, as well as the Community Sustainment Initiative. He asked if anyone had any comments or observations about the 20/20 plan. Council member Ceil Allen said it was a good document, and she was very happy that it was put together, as it was a lot of work for the committee. “The real issue is how do we get to what the plan is?” Mayor Steve Rahn said that some of the things in the plan are wishes that may or may not ever take effect, but are something to hope for, such as a development company coming in to build houses. Allen said there are things that the city can do, and that the Chamber is already doing, to help bring people to Lanesboro. Julie Kiehne from the Chamber of Commerce said the new website has an area under the community tab called Business Opportunities, and there is a list of businesses and buildings that are available to rent or buy. They could expand it to include more details. Keith Baker of the EDA commented on the effort that the Chamber put forth to market Lanesboro as a cool place to live and do business, and that a lot of things they do are in the 20/20 plan. “If people move here, a lot of those things will follow,” he said. “I think what you’re doing is very exciting.” City Administrator Bobbie Vickerman noted that the school is a major factor in community sustainment, as are other facets of the city. “I think we should find out how we can get everyone to work together to move forward. What needs to be done? Maybe we should reach out to these different entities.” “That’s definitely a worthwhile goal,” said Cropp. There was some discussion about encouraging families to move to Lanesboro. Vickerman said 42 out of the 387 homes in Lanesboro are second homes for people, a number that has grown in the last few years. Vickerman also stated that the Lanesboro 20/20, the Chamber Strategic Plan, and the Community Sustainment Initiative all have the same goal of moving Lanesboro forward. After a brief EDA meeting, the City Council held a special meeting. Dillon Dombrovski, engineer from Yaggy Colby and Associates, was there to discuss sewer line replacement options for the city. There have been many issues with the sewer under the levy, including a leak recently, and the line was televised. According to Dombrovski, they had trouble getting through, and the pipes are in bad condition. The price to repair the line with open cutting and replace is with 12-inch PVC plastic pipe is going to be $86,201, which was the low bid from Blitz Construction. Vickerman said the Public Utilities Commission would be paying for the repairs out of their Capital Improvement fund. The reason it came before the council was to get it approved so work can be done on it as soon as possible. Dombrovski said they would be replacing 1,000 feet in pipe and four manholes. Mayor Rahn said they have tried to put off the work because of the cost, but it can’t be put off any longer. There is also storm sewer repair that needs to be done underneath the Riverside on the Root. Dombrovski said there are two catch basins on the southeast corner of that intersection, then it’s a straight shot under the building to the river. The pipe is made up of different types of metal, clay, and concrete, as it has been patched together over the years. Dombrovski said the metal parts are rusting. They sent out for quotes from pipelining companies, and the low bid was $41,607.81 from Municipal Pipe Tool Company LLC. Dombrovski explained that since it’s a small job, the rate per square foot is higher than if it were a larger job. They are only working on 300 feet of pipe. The other option would be to try to make an alternate route for the pipe, instead of under the restaurant. Dombrovski felt that would cost more than the estimate to fix it. Mike Charlebois, owner of Riverside on the Root, suggested an alternate route they could look into. Blitz could also do the work for that if the city chose to do that. The city authorized Dombrovski to check with a drainage engineer. They will also be checking with the state to see if they could help with the cost, since it is part of the state highway as well. ..... 
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