At the Monday, April 24 city council meeting, more than six items of recommendation were presented to the council by the Economic Development Authority (EDA). Among them a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development report and details of Micro Grant Funds and Revolving Loan Fund activity. Most notable in the recommendation was a four-page document detailing the EDA Objective and Strategic Plans.
“It’s to keep us on track; defining goals,” said Councilor and EDA member Terri Benson. “How do we know if we’re making an impact? We thought this was a good way.”
Four main objectives round out the plans and strategies for identifying the specifics, measurable progress, and designation of who will complete each goal, realistic results, and the time frame in which it can be completed are thoroughly documented. The main objectives include: downtown vitality, an increase to local workforce of 50 jobs by 2025, fulfillment of housing demand by 2025, and more effective marketing of the community.
Some of the goals within the plans include streetscape and signage improvements, added bike racks and benches, lighting for the Magelssen Bluff sign, keeping downtown business buildings occupied, sales of Himlie and Rush Creek development areas, repurposing of the school site, creation of housing development or redevelopment incentive, and increased social media and online traffic.
EDA Micro Grant funding continues to be a success and another two were approved. The first was a $500 grant to be used towards a $1,920 project for Rushford Manufacturing. The project includes new business signs for outdoor display and for vehicle logo display. The second Micro Grant request, from Bluff Country ATV Club, is part of a $2,950 project for website development, advertising, communications, and meetings with business owners and landowners.
It was also noted that the ATV club, which encompasses members from Fillmore, Houston, Winona, Olmsted, and Wabasha Counties, has secured the services of a hobbyist videographer. A high-quality day video will be done for the club and will feature several of Rushford’s trail and vista areas. “The club is really busy,” said Councilor Vern Bunke. “They’re going to be really good representatives for Rushford.”
The city council has also considered and approved a recommendation from Public Works Director Roger Knuston and worker Dave Lombard regarding a municipality incentive program. Affiliated with Sugar Loaf Ford Lincoln in Winona, the program is offered through the Ford Fleet Program and is a win-win for both the company and the city.
Through the program, truck vehicles are sold to municipalities at a state bid price. After a year’s time, the city will trade the truck in to Sugar Loaf for a new vehicle with very little cost to the city. The city will do a transfer title each year after the initial year and at the end of the year, Sugar Loaf gets the older unit back and can resell it to the average customer. “This means we don’t have maintenance and repair on the vehicle; no battery, no tires, no belts,” noted Knutson.
There are guidelines to the program that the city must adhere to, however. The truck must stay under 7,000 miles per year. Knutson believes this will not be a problem as the department can rotate their fleet of vehicles depending on task and mileage.
“After the 2007 flood, many trucks were replaced and we got out of sync on rotating trucks. But, we have been planning and setting aside funding to be able to take advantage of good prices and good deals,” added Knutson.
The current offer from Sugar Loaf is trade-in of a 2015 Dodge Crew Cab for $24,000 and a 2007 Ford for $7,000. The cost to the city for two new trucks, less the trade-ins, is $29,900, plus registration and fees. The total expense to purchase two new trucks next year is $350.
The truck budget has sufficient funds to cover the costs for 2017, but Knuston noted that the fund will still need to continue growth to cover future replacement of the Tandem, F-450, F-750, flower basket watering truck, ¾ ton truck, and skid steer.
One of the last items for business for the council was approval of certifying past due charges to the Fillmore County Auditor for collection with property taxes. The owner of 733 Olson Drive and their mortgage lender, Bank of America, were both notified that they may request a hearing with the city, but the owner declined the hearing. $834.07 in utilities due will be certified to the county with additional interest of 5% added to the total due.
During “Reports and Updates,” City Administrator Tony Chladek indicated he’s secured a meeting May 11 with Senator Jeremy Miller and is trying to nail down Representative Greg Davids on the same day for a meeting regarding Local Government Aid. “They should be jumping up and down and pushing the benefits of LGA for small cities really hard,” said Chladek, who urged the council members and the public at large to contact the two legislators.
“There are a number of cities that are under 5,000. They should be perpetually supporting it. Now is the time to push them. If there’s any opportunity, this is it.”
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Monday, May 8, at 6:30 p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.