Lanesboro mayor reassures council
that financial status is not in 'dire straits'
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 2:18 AM
Lanesboro Mayor Steve Rahn clarified information presented at the previous council meeting concerning the city's financial position during the Monday, Jan. 6, Lanesboro City Council meeting.
"We are not in dire straits," he explained referring to the previous year's audit that showed money in other earmarked accounts or tied up in city assets.
City Administrator David Todd added that the city's overall net position was good and that the fund discussed at the December meeting only dealt with liquid monies, which would be used for emergencies. This fund has a balance of less than $50,000 and Todd again expressed the need to build it up.
Todd said the city was not in danger of defaulting on any loans or not making debt service payments.
Interim Executive Director Marv Eggert gave the council a report on the past year. He noted that former Executive Director Julie Kiehne had resigned to take a position with MNSCU (Minnesota State Colleges and Universities) in Rochester. The chamber is currently looking for her permanent replacement and hope to have a new director by the end of February.
Eggert explained there had been a lot of challenges in 2013 with the weather, Highway 16 road construction, June flooding and bike trail construction. However, lodging tax revenue, which closely indicates the success of the tourism season, was down only slightly from 2012. Eggert said 2012 was a record-setting year for tax revenue and 2013 wasn't going to affect economic viability going forward in 2014.
The chamber launched a mobile-optimized website, which Eggert said has received as much traffic as the desktop version.
Eggert also announced that Lanesboro had made the Travel and Leisure Magazine as one of America's Most Romantic Winter Destinations.
Discussions about the city brand will also continue in 2014. Eggert said he recognized the chamber is in the midst of several transitions, but that its best chance to succeed would be through strong partnerships with its stakeholders.
In a discussion about finding interim funding for the city well project, Mike Bubany of David Drown Associates suggested the city borrow through a MIDI Loan from the Minnesota Rural Water Association.
The loan program would allow the city to draw up to $1.5 million dollars on an as-needed basis. This would allow the city to pay for portions of the well project completed during the upcoming spring.
The overall $2.7 million dollar project will be financed through the Public Facilities Authority, but that funding will not be made available to the city until September.
Bubany suggested the city request $1 million to avoid a second set of issuance costs that would come if the city had to go back for more funding.
Commonweal bond reissuance
During a public hearing prior to the council meeting, the reissuance of a revenue bond note for the Commonweal Theatre was discussed. Bubany explained the city had been the government entity that allowed the theater to issue tax exempt debt through F&M Community Bank in 2006. The refinancing of that debt is expected to reduce their debt service for the 2006 construction of the theatre building from $120,000 to $37,000.
In other business normally taken care of at the beginning of the year, the council approved Merchants Bank as the city's official depository and the Fillmore County Journal as it's official newspaper.
Fire Department appointments were approved with Rob Wagner again being fire chief.
Cheryl Brekke was approved to serve on the library board in the open seat vacated by Sally Ming. Garry Evenson was also approved to begin another term on the Public Utilities Commission. Councilman Tom Smith suggested to the council that open board positions should be advertised in case someone has an interest in serving. Typically, the city recommends people for appointment since the positions are non-competitive. Todd said a discussion could be had later in the year about using a different format in filling openings.
Ambulance rates were improved at $11 per loaded mile with a $600 base rate. Community center facilities rental rates were approved as well as park camping rates.