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Rushford City Council Report: Possible New JOBZ for Rushford

Fri, Aug 15th, 2003
Posted in Features

The Rushford City Council took advantage of the chance to participate in a multi-county Job Opportunity Building Zone application at their August 11th meeting. JOBZ, a marketing tool of the state of Minnesota, has a goal of stimulating development in "distressed" areas of the state by providing local and state tax exemptions. The City of Rushford chose to request approval of 53 acres (of a possible 5,000 acres in an eleven county region). The chosen land would include all of the undeveloped industrial park, land owned by Wallace Himlie near the former Lucas plant, by Dennis Darr and by Riverside Electronics. Under JOBZ, "just about everything is excluded from taxes except the land." Obviously, this would help market the included properties.

The council stressed JOBZ would be targeting manufacturing and they would have development agreements guaranteeing wages, jobs, etc. JOBZ is not involved with financing retail development.

In answer to a question from Himlie, the council stated that if land was rezoned residential, it would come out of JOBZ and other land would be designated JOBZ instead.

Water Issues

Once again the council turned its concern to water issues. Mike Bubany, a financial consultant from David Drown Associates, offered his suggestions in a presentation on the financing of water improvements in the city. Noting that the state requires water improvements to be totally funded by water fees, he suggested a base rate of $9.48 with no free gallons and an additional rate of $4.47 per 1,000 gallons of water used. A reduced construction cost, resulting from the city doing more of the construction itself, could conceivably result in a base rate of $7.81 with the same variable usage rate of $4.47 per 1,000 gallons. Currently residents pay a base rate of $9.10 per month and receive 18,000 gallons "free." Any water used over that amount currently costs $2.10 per 1,000 gallons.

Bubany opined that there is no one way to balance base rate costs versus volume usage, but informed the council "the rates are not quite where they need to be." Bubany also mentioned the possibility of special assessments to the residents who would benefit from the improved circulation and elimination of dead ends through looping.

Councilman Ron Mierau quickly responded, "If we tried that wed probably get bills for destroyed clothes! (from those residents)"

Mayor T.S. Roberton commented, "If we dont raise rates more than just covering debt services, we wont have money to fix well number four."

No decisions were made regarding the water rates; Larry Bartelson, city administrator, will work up illustrations to show the effect rates increases will have on water customers.

In a further water matter, the council learned that Chuck Pederson was currently getting water supply from a garden hose attached to a hydrant because his sandpoint well had failed. Although the ordinance states that once a homeowners system fails he must attach to city water, the council opted to follow an ordinance which states that if the adjacent property is not hooked up to the city, the property in question doesnt have to hook up to the city. Since the county owns the land between Pedersons and rest of the city and intends to keep the property for road right of way, the county has no interest in installing a city water line. The council chose this position because they were concerned about creating another dead end with the potential of stagnant water. The Pedersons will pursue drilling their own new well.

Other business

In other business, the council:

referred the insurance settlement agreement for the tennis courts to the city attorney for his inspection;

heard the gravel path under the North End bridge would likely be approved the state for a temporary permit;

agreed to pay the bill from Otomo Engineering with the city covering the PCA permit fee and the remainder of the costs billed to developer Mike Sexhauer;

decided to pursue the purchase of land dedicated for future city biosolid dispersal;

learned Commissioner Mat Kramer of the Department of Employment and Economic Development will be visiting Rushford August 27th along with Sen. Kierlin, Rep. Davids and other dignitaries;

authorized an execution of grant agreement so police chief Sam Stensgard can apply for a Basic Safe Communities Grant;

took advantage of a sale on a 2004 Crown Victoria police car to be delivered after January 1, 2004;

heard the repaired electric transformer would be reinstalled August 27th at 1:30 AM with neighbors of the site to be informed if the street will be blocked.

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