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JOBZ for RiverBend gets local approval

Fri, Apr 27th, 2007
Posted in Government

RUSHFORD - When the Rushford City Council met on Monday, April 23, they heard reports from City Administrator Windy Block and City Attorney Terry Chiglo on the same day's Fillmore County EDA meeting. Block, Chiglo, and representatives from RiverBend had attended the EDA meeting to request its approval of the transfer of JOBZ designation to the TRW east building property. With the possibility of the JOBZ program going away at month's end, the city staff needed to move quickly to try to get the JOBZ designation moved from other acreage in the city to the property RiverBend is planning to lease from holding company PAFT.

The county apparently felt it should be involved in a business subsidy agreement; RiverBend's stance was that they would sign one agreement, and that would be with the city. RiverBend did not feel they should need to deal with the county as well. According to Chiglo, the business at hand was the movement of the JOBZ designation; no business subsidy agreement could be even considered until after that. After a lengthy discussion, the county EDA had recommended approval of the movement of the JOBZ designation.

Block commented that the current owner (TRW) should have been the one attending the EDA meeting to request the change rather than RiverBend. Block reiterated the proposed plans for RiverBend-forty jobs with twenty by this year's end and twenty more the next year, an $11.50 per hour minimum wage, and $1.25 million invested in building equipment by RiverBend.

Chiglo emphatically stated, "The business model for RiverBend would not support this without the JOBZ benefits." Without JOBZ designation for the property RiverBend would not become a reality in Rushford. Chiglo informed the council he had talked to Ace regarding the movement of JOBZ from their property in the industrial park. While the state had said this was a decision of the city and not Ace, Chiglo was planning on talking to the Ace board of directors out of consideration. Ace was not planning to take advantage of the JOBZ program.

Mayor Les Ladewig expressed his appreciation for the work Block, Chiglo, and Commissioner Randy Dahl had done at the EDA meeting.

Block told the council the city's twenty-three page business subsidy agreement would need to be at the state by Wednesday if Fillmore County agreed to the movement of the JOBZ designation on Tuesday. (The County did approve the movement on Tuesday, April 24, clearing the way for the request to go to the state for approval.)

Audit presentation

Using a rapid Powerpoint presentation, Tom Wente and Aaron Christianson of Smith Schafer & Associates gave the city's audit report for 2006. The general fund balance at the year's end was $462,500 (77 percent of 2006 general fund expenditures). Property taxes and local government aid (LGA) generated about the same amount of revenue for the city. Wente pointed out that the water rate increase had improved the water fund, bringing it back in balance and called the way in which issues had been addressed over the years very positive. The sewer fund, also improving, is "shaving down" the loss according to Wente.

Wente noted both the ambulance and fire department funds had built appropriate reserves to cover future equipment needs. The police department expenditures totaled $224,468 in 2006 (up from $201,524 in 2005); the increase was due to higher fuel and personnel costs. Revenues for the police department totaled $14,235.

For the first time since 1999, liquor sales have decreased (by four percent) for the city at the Municipal Liquor Store. The gross profit percentage, however, remains consistent at thirty-three percent, and the liquor fund transferred $30,000 in lieu of taxes.

Board of appeals

Fred Horihan from the Fillmore County Assessor's Office explained that the "market is strong down here," as he answered questions from Walter Lee on the $10,000 increase in valuation on his 120 year-old home. Lee also questioned the non-homestead status of a "garage" on his property adjacent to his home. Horihan planned to check on the situation further.

Jim Roberton asked if there was any way to reduce the taxes on the pole shed structure Rushford Oversize Storage owns. The building has to have a commercial classification; as such the taxes are higher. Since the floor in the structure is gravel and not concrete as assumed by the assessors, the taxes will be adjusted downward somewhat.

Other business

In other business the council:

• set May 18 and 19 for spring cleanup-rates will remain the same as last year; computers and TV monitors can be brought in for a $15 fee;

• approved gambling licenses to R-P Booster Club at both the Municipal Liquor Store and Nordic Lanes bowling Alley;

• recessed until April 27 so they could receive and act on the airport commission's recommendation for the appointment of an airport consultant.

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