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Rushford seeks land values on properties

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Jun 14th, 2013
Posted in Rushford Government

By Kirsten Zoellner

The city is seeking professional appraisals on two of its properties; the lot immediately west of the fire hall and the community center and lot in the Himlie Business Park. With parties interested in both locations, City Administrator Steve Sarvi urged the council to approve the appraisal process.

“We have no good idea what they’re worth,” he noted. We’re getting close to needing those numbers. As the economy picks up, appraisers get busy. We’re told lead time is 4-6 weeks.”

The city does have the option of doing a market analysis, which is less costly and done more quickly, but as Sarvi pointed out, it has little validity with banks and other lenders. Sarvi has acquired verbal estimates of less than $1,000 to conduct each appraisal.

“I think we need a real time appraisal, so we at least have a starting point,” added Councilor Mark Honsey.

“It’s money well spent,” echoed Councilor Roger Colbenson.

The community center began in November 2009, but was never completed. The lot on which it sits had initial land and infrastructure costs of over $192,000. To date, the city has put $400,000 into the building which sits on the lot.

The lot west of the fire hall is currently undergoing soil analysis to see if it is suitable for construction. John and Eileen Loken, of Houston, are looking to purchase the lot as the site for a motel.

The city is also looking ahead to preliminary budget planning for 2014. Prior to setting the 2013 last year, an interest in beginning the planning process earlier each year was expressed by at least two councilors. The city now intends to form a subcommittee of two council representatives and city staff to start crunching the numbers for budgets as early as July. Typically, budget work has been set aside for the fall with the city certifying its levy to the county no later than five working days before December 20.

“I think it’ll be helpful to know what intentions are,” noted Sarvi in reference to planning earlier.

The city will appoint council representatives at the June 24 meeting. The subcommittee will discuss goals and objectives, and report back to the council.

At least one item can be removed from the remainder of 2013 budget; the former municipal liquor store. The council voted in April to reject USDA funding that would have seen the conversion of the former “muni” to a new city hall. The back and forth debate over the project has been an ongoing issue for the city and council. At the time it was canceled, Councilor Vern Bunke said, ““The one thing I come away with is that I don’t think there’s a consensus solution that we’ve come to yet that makes sense to the whole community.”

Now, following up on direction from the council to search out alternative funding for the potential conversion, Administrator Sarvi has suggested the council let it sit for the duration of the budget year. “My take away from last council action was to come back with alternative funding. Until the audit is complete, I do not think it’s responsible to lay out numbers, not for the 2013 budget.”

Sarvi went on to note that there’s no rush in getting it done. “The only reason I brought it up initially was because of the alternative funding from the USDA,” he added.

The city will reevaluate the project in planning for the 2014 budget.

In other news, the city has opted to step up and help more actively market the upcoming Jumps for Hope event June 23 at the Rushford Municipal Airport. The event requires the commitment of 100 participants, but Sarvi indicated that it currently has just over 60. “The event will go ahead as scheduled, but we’d like to make sure their costs to do this are covered.”

The city will provide up to $650 in advertising funding, from its Airport Fund, to try and secure further participants from outside the immediate area.

Alana Wilson, president of Jumps for Hope, has organized the event along with Westside Skydivers in effort to raise funding for cancer research. Extra donations from the event will go to area families affected by the disease. The 8am and 4pm jump times are still available. For more information, go to www.jumpsforhope.com or www.facebook.com/jumpsforhope, or call 888-758-JUMP to make your reservation.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Monday, June 24, at 6:30pm, at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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