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Rushford Council approves a slew of recommendations


Fri, Nov 28th, 2008
Posted in Government

RUSHFORD - The Rushford city council heard a slew of recommendations from two of its commissions last Monday and approved all of them.

From the Planning Commission was what administrator Windy Block's newsletter referred to as one of those "decade-changing opportunities-amending the Comprehensive Plan." A vocal proponent for making job creation a number one priority, Block says the amendments "create a forum for consideration of perhaps the single most important issue of the flood recovery-the subject of jobs and business growth that will nurture job development."

Specifically, after what was called a "robust discussion", the Planning Commission recommended designating the Himlie Business Park from its former classifications of "agricultural" and "light industrial" to "commercial" development along the highway and "residential" land to the north and east, behind the commercial.

Joel West of Yaggy Colby Associates presented the amendments, which are tied to a Housing Plan prepared for the city by the engineering firm, and answered questions.

West also mentioned the opportunity at some time in the future to use the current school property as office and residential zoning, if and when a new school is built elsewhere in the city. His report recommends no change to the land use plan on this issue since such an action would have a long lead time.

The housing plan cites the need for a manufactured home park in the city and recommends the site of the former Bluffview Trailer Court retain its former designation. Local entrepreneurs Mike Hammel and Henry Becker are developing the new park.

West's report also sounds the alarm about the lack of a watershed management organization to deal with regional watershed issues, since the City of Rushford is on the downstream end of a large watershed area.

EDA

A number of recommendations from the EDA were also on the table, including amendments to the flood recovery loans to Marlene and Lester Bellock and Connaughty Industries.

RINtek, Inc. leases the library basement from the City and is in need of electrical improvements. The EDA recommends that the City pay for 50% of the actual cost, up to $328.

Lastly, there was a recommendation for an Administrative Policy Change under the Business Flood Recovery Loan program that would allow a new formula for calculating "net" amount for borrowers seeking to use investment in real property as a part or all of their required equity for Category 1-A or Category 2 loans.

Block explained that the motivation for the change is to acknowledge that some business people are making significant investments in the future of the community, but under current rules, can use no part of that investment as equity. Block said the goal of the new formula would be to "help them to improve properties, but not to unduly enrich them."

All recommendations passed council.

Flood Recovery and Taxes

Tom Wente and Mark Paczosa of Smith Schafer & Associates, Ltd. were present to discuss the decline by the IRS to issue a private letter ruling regarding the city's request on the Business Flood Recovery Loan Program.

The auditors had suggestions for how to proceed. For city reporting, a 1099 form will be disbursed to those receiving forgivable loans at the time the funds are disbursed, for 75% of the amount. For the other 25%, the refunded principal payments are considered a "grant" and 1099's will be issued the year principal payments are refunded.

For Category 1A and Category 2 loans, no reporting will occur in the year the loan is made, but in the year the loan is forgiven, a 1099 will be issued.

Letters will be sent to all loan recipients explaining the tax impact on their businesses.

Deer

The "deer" issue raised its four-legged head again when the council was presented with a petition signed by approximately seventy people requesting that the city council "work out a method to solve the problem of too many deer in the City."

City staff mentioned that the names had not been vetted to be sure all were indeed citizens of Rushford.

Block said he'd begin research into what the city of Redwing is doing, but also cautioned that it's a sizable matter and not worth getting into halfway. He wanted to know whether the council would "either do it or don't."

City attorney Scott Springer offered the opinion that the Rushford deer "belong to Minnesotans" and that the DNR would have to approve of any hunt.

Mayor Ladewig pointed out that to approach the DNR, the city would have to carefully document reasons for their assertion that the deer are out of control, otherwise "we just look like we have a vendetta against Bambi."

Staff will continue to investigate possibilities.

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