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Spring Valley City Council hears request over abandoned property

Fri, Mar 28th, 2014
Posted in Spring Valley Government

Paul Mittelstadt is not happy. Mittelstadt lives at 303 Huron Avenue in Spring Valley and is concerned with what is happening at an abandoned house at 301 Huron. According to Mittelstadt, the property has sat there for over 30 years attracting rodents and other unpleasant critters. No one repairs the house and it just grows worse and worse as each day passing.

He has requested the help of the city council but so far, “according to him” nothing has gotten done to clean up the property and he wants to know why.

Mittelstadt and his wife appeared at the council meeting on Monday night and voiced his concerns again and wants some action. He says that he has tried many outlets and will continue the fight.

In other action at the meeting, the Audit for the city was reviewed by Tom Wente of Smith Schafer Associates, LTD. In a rather lengthy report Wente summarized that the General Fund unassigned fund balance equals 94 percent of annual general fund and that Capital improvement fund balance stands at one million dollars. This will be available for future capital needs including main street improvements and industrial park expansion. LGA (Local Government Aid) provided $797,702 while property taxes provided $918,611 in 2013 revenues. According to Wente all debt services funds are being adequately funded and all outstanding bonds are being paid on a timely basis. Finally, Revenues in the city’s five Utilities are generally keeping pace with rising operating expenses, servicing all debt requirements and developing needed reserves for future capital projects although the Water Fund has exhausted its cash reserves.

A few weeks ago Waste Management was called to task when the council said that there were many citizens complaining about how their garbage was handled. According to the complaint at the time was that Waste Management wasn’t returning calls and appeared to be taking the city for granted. According to Zimmer she made attempts to contact the company seeking a way to deal with the complaints. Zimmer said that those calls went unanswered. At Monday night’s meeting of the council, a representative of Waste Management told the Council that he was not taking the City for granted and that many of the complaints were centered around bad weather and the inability of reaching all the homes.

After the Waste Management presentation Mayor Struzyk said that he has received many calls saying, “They are doing a good job.”

Waste Management then gave the council a check for $2,607 for payment of recyclables.

A rather lengthy document called SEMLM 2014 Legislative Policy Positions was approved by the council. The Legislative Policy Positions were presented to the cities making up SEMLM (South East Minnesota League of Municipalities). There are nine items that are apparently necessary to these cities; Number 1 is Equity in Library Funding, and Maintenance of Effort (MOE). Number 2 is Economic Development and Job Creation. The SEMLM supports allowing DEED more flexibility to serve community and business needs of today. City Funding, LGA and Levy Limits are always hot topics. An explanation furnished with the proposal makes it slightly easier to understand. “LGA represents only one of several aids to communities in various categories, and should be viewed in the larger context of the diverse forms of funding across the state, such as transit funding, metropolitan bridge funding, per pupil school funding and others. Minnesota has a long history of public policy intended to balance the property tax burdens of residents across the state. The SEMLM membership respects and supports the original intent of LGA and understands the need for it to be upheld, thereby not favoring either urban or rural communities. LGA is how the state returns revenue to cities with low property tax wealth and/or high needs. This state/local partnership keeps property tax rates reasonable and helps cities provide needed services that encourage state economic growth and promote strong communities.”

The document continues; “Many communities saw increased LGA funding in the last budget year, and they appreciate it. It remains a goal of the SEMLM to return to earlier (pre 2003) and higher LGA funding, including the restoration of the annual inflation adjust to continue to reduce the burden on local property taxes. The members of the SEMLM respectfully object to the state legislature using levy limits to undermine local decision-making and accountability. Local officials remain answerable to the voters for local budgetary decisions, and must be able to serve nimbly and efficiently.”

Other items on the wish list dealt with sales tax on city purchases, EAB and Urban Forest Management Funding. This could be EAB is the Emerald Ash Borer. This money would be used to combat those insects. SEMLM is proposing to have a state matching grant to accomplish this.

Another hot topic is Silica Sand. “Cities in our region prefer to retain local control on this issue.”


Project Expenses

According to the approved document; the SEMLM asks that the legislature use a per capita cap for the city financial match requirement for MnDOT bridge and highway projects not initiated by the affected cities, especially for cities under 5,000.” “The request is being made to make it a priority to fund improvements to Highway 14 across our entire eight-county area for both safety and economic benefits. Additional highways with section that require repairs, upgrades, or reconstruction are Highway 30, 63, 52, 61 and 25.”

Tax Reciprocity

“The SEMLM asks the state legislature to work with the state of Wisconsin to reinstate the former tax reciprocity program that benefited the residents who live in Minnesota and work in Wisconsin.

Finally the group asks the state legislature to ” not alter the 2013 legislation that passed in support of the DMC proposal. Numerous communities in our region passed statements of support for the DMC proposal to encourage the state to support the DMC legislation. Allow the 2013 legislation to stand as is.”

Members of the council approved these actions and it will be interesting to see how it rolls along the political path.

Other business

The council approved a $3,420 dollar bill to Horsman Fence Company for a keyed gate at the north end of the Street Department entrance off CR8.

Steve and Karla of Racks restaurant appeared before the Spring Valley EDA February 12 and requested additional funds in the range of $45,000 to meet codes on renovations for the restaurant. The option for board of consideration states they could lend $31,300 for current working capital towards the outstanding contractor debt. A proposal for a patio can be looked at in a year after all contractors are paid off by being paid directly. Update on the restaurant; “To date: Racks reported that business has continued to grow. They have had 200 people at fish fry on Friday nights, and they are having great Saturday nights. The lunch crowd is at 50 to 80 plates per day. They thank the community for their support.

A discussion was held regarding a bill to the Fire Department for Emergency Medical Responder Refresher. The council agreed that communication with the ambulance would be appreciated as both departments interact with each other during training, etc.

The Rental Housing issue was put on the back burner for the present time.

A lien was placed on property at 417 Center Avenue. It is owned by Richard and Marian Johnson for unpaid utilities amounting to $507.41.

The meeting concluded with no issues being raised by council members or the mayor.

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