At the February 6 city council meeting funding options for a State Veterans Home and the Riverside Center projects were discussed. Both projects have been in early planning stages for some time.
Councilman Robert Maust suggested that each project could cost an estimated $500,000. City Administrator Joe Hoffman asked the council to consider hiring David Drown and Associates to do a Capital Financial Plan. He listed several financing options including funding for Local Improvement Projects, USDA Community Facilities Loan, Abatement Levy Bond, EDA lease purchase, and a Referendum Bond which would require a vote of 50% plus one.
The council approved the extension of a land option with Robert Doherty for another year through the end of 2018 at a cost of $250, as recommended by the EDA. The land could be the future home of a state veterans home. The estimated half million cost for a veterans home is for the land purchase plus the necessary infrastructure upgrades.
Maust favored the idea of a referendum bond. He maintained that “if we can’t get 50% plus one to support the project, we probably shouldn’t be doing it.” He argued it is a good time to borrow money, as we are at the bottom of the scale at what it will cost; interest rates are expected to go up.
Mayor Kurt Reicks suggested plans for the Riverside Center, which is to be the home for Tourism, the Historical Society, and the National Trout Center, should also include a community center. Councilwoman Holly Zuck said she totally agreed. Reicks said it would mean more money but would likely get more community support. The city doesn’t host events because of the lack of such a facility. Reicks said the former Dairy and Farm location may provide the city with an opportunity to have a community center.
Maust said it is time to make some serious decisions. He added we can’t offer something we don’t own, referring to the Doherty property. Providing the land and infrastructure would help in the city’s effort to get the state veterans home.
Zuck suggested before they commit to paying for a Capital Financial Plan ($5,000), they should get the results of a feasibility study for the veterans home. A proposal from Stantec to do the study has not been approved yet. It would be site specific and detail needed infrastructure including road access.
The Preston EDA recommended sharing the cost of a Demand Study with Spring Valley. Both cities would like to be the site of the state veterans home. The 50/50 share in the study cost is $6,500 for each city.
In St. Paul on February 13, County Veterans Service Officer Jason Marquardt will give a presentation to the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs and House Veteran Affairs Committee. The presentation is a joint effort to get a state veterans home in Fillmore County.
Other business in brief
• EMT Rhonda Musel was hired as recommended by ambulance director Ryan Throckmorton.
• Ambulance write-offs for 2016 in the amount of $67,346.20 and for 2015 in the amount of $2,519.17 were approved. These write-offs are the funding gap between the city’s rates and what private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid will reimburse. Write-offs for 2015 in the amount of $11,066.13 which are mostly uncollected accounts were approved. These debts are not forgiven, but are unlikely to be collected. Unreimbursed training expenses in the amount of $775 were also wrote off as the debt is unlikely to be collected.
• A total of $1,200 Fire Department uncollected accounts were written off for 2014 and 2015.
• A $100 donation to the Post-Prom Committee was approved.
• Hoffman reported that Tourism Director Sarah Wangen had submitted her resignation effective February 3. Hoffman said Tourism, the Chamber and the ambulance are looking at options for the future of this position. A proposal to advertise to fill the position will be presented at the next council meeting.
• MiEnergy is extending a line near the south city entrance sign. This would be one way the city could have a light on the south entrance sign. MiEnergy estimates the line, service, and light for the sign will cost $7,000. The annual electric bill would be about $400. Hoffman said an upgrade to the north sign to LED would cost $400, an expected five-year pay back. No action on the estimate was made. Hoffman was asked to get a quote for solar powered lighting for the next meeting.
• The EDA recommended a $17,000 loan from the Greater Minnesota Revolving loan fund for Eric Corson for his duplex rental rehab. The five year revolving loan at 2% interest was approved.
The EDA recommended $3,000 in revolving loan funds from the Small City Development Program grant 274 for the Driftless Fly Fishing Company owned by Mel Hayner. The loan is to be used to remodel the commercial building. The five-year loan at 1% interest was approved. The EDA recommended $8,500 in revolving loan funds from the Greater Minnesota Revolving loan fund for the Driftless Fly Fishing Company owned by Mel Hayner for the remodeling of the apartment at 208 St. Paul St. The five-year revolving loan at 2% interest was approved.
• The next meeting will be on Tuesday, February 21.