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Tax abatement hearing at the Harmony City Council meeting


Fri, Jan 11th, 2013
Posted in Harmony Government

By Jade Sexton

Mike Bubany of David Drown and Associates was at the Harmony City Council meeting on January 8 for the tax abatement hearing. The city is planning to refinance a USDA bond they currently have in order to get a lower interest rate and save money. There were no residents there for the hearing.

Bubany explained the city took out three loans through the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) in order to improve the community center. Right now interest rates are a lot better, and can be locked in at 2.2 percent. Bubany said First Southeast Bank in Harmony locked in that rate a few months ago for the city.

The total amount reduced on the loans would be $67,000. Bubany stressed that they are only refinancing the parts of the loan that are allowable by the USDA. The city will have to pay $35,000 to do the refinancing.

Bubany showed the parcels in town that will be part of the tax abatement. He stressed that there will be no changes to taxes for these property owners; the city just has to show that they can generate enough taxes. “It’s just on paper to meet legal requirements,” he said.

Mayor Steve Donney said that $35,000 will be coming out of cash reserves, and Bubany said the city could levy some of that amount back if they wanted to.

The plan is to close on the loan on January 14.

1st Ave Southwest project

Illg said Brett Grabau from Bonestroo came down to Harmony and looked at the curb sections on 1st Ave. and they did some marking and measuring to update the plans. He said he, along with councilor Jerry Shuck and Grabau met with the county engineer regarding the project, and were told the county would like to turn the street over to the city in ten years.

Illg said the county cost share policy does not include curb and gutter or storm sewer. They discussed asking the county to help more with the costs so they would consider taking the street back in the future.

Illg also said the final costs will be more than what was discussed at the December meeting. The plan is to have an assessment/project hearing at the March meeting.

Planning and Zoning

Hearing

The Planning and Zoning committee had recommended approval of a rezoning/special exemption request from Crop Production Services. The request was to change the zoning of commercial to agricultural/industrial in order to relocate the anhydrous ammonia tank on Highway 52 toward Canton to the east side of their property. The Department of Agriculture regulates anhydrous tanks. A chain-link fence will go around it instead of a solid fence because of the contents and safety, to allow contents to get out in case of leak. The council approved the rezoning.

Fire Department changes

Bill Hanlon and Rod Johnson were at the meeting representing the Harmony Fire Department. Hanlon informed the council that he has resigned his position as Fire Chief after eleven years, and Johnson was elected to take his place. Hanlon will stay on as Assistant Chief, along with Blaine Gatzke. Chris Skaalen has resigned his position as Assistant Chief after 20 years.

Cost of Living increase

After some discussion, it was approved to give city employees a two percent cost of living increase. Council member Jim Bakken voted against it, commenting that he felt it should be higher. He noted that the employees have increases in health insurance, and recently got overtime hours cut.

Other Business

City Attorney Richard Nethercut swore in Mayor Steve Donney, council member Debbie Swenson, and new council member Lynn Mensink.

After some discussion, it was voted to change the fee for liquor on-sale licenses from $800 to $650 a year.

Mensink said Paula Michel has retired from transporting kids to and from story hour at the library, and librarian Stephanie Silvers will be taking over. The library board needs to purchase some booster seats for her vehicle. They have purchased some children’s books that they will dedicate to the library in Michel’s name.

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