The development and outreach officer of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), Jennifer Nelson, addressed the Spring Valley City Council during a regular meeting last week to give information on two new projects.

SMIF, founded in 1986, is a regional foundation with focuses on early childhood and economic development The group has 23 community foundations, including Spring Valley.

During the last two years, the foundation has provided approximately $200,000 to Fillmore County, with $120,00 going to early childhood and the remaining $80,000 to economic development within the region.

One of the new projects the foundation has been working on is farmland retention, which was just approved by their board in February.

Under this project, a farmer can donate his land to the foundation and the farm will continue to stay in production. Taxes will stay on the tax roll for the county.

SMIF will manage the farm and take it over if the farmer does not choose to pass it on to a family member. This will then continue to keep the property as a working farm.

Another program is an equity fund. It will have a $3 million fund, which will allow SMIF to act as an "angel investor," according to Nelson. The hope is to help companies remain the in the area.

Spring Valley Area Community Foundation President Sue Kolling, told the council, "as a community foundation we are very pleased with our relationship with SMIF. The support they provide and the return on this investment we've been able to obtain, it's been a very good relationship for the Spring Valley foundation. We look forward to the years to come and the opportunities with farm retention and other things to come."

Kolling ended the presentation by reminding the council that the foundation just provided a Young Explorer computer to the Spring Valley Library, which according to city administrator Deb Zimmer, was just set up that Monday.

Wetter annexation

David Wetter met with the council once more to finalize the annexation of his 11-acre property on Tracy Road from Spring Valley Township.

Wetter and the council were able to come to an agreement on the terms concerning the horses on his property.

The conditions include:

• A limit of two horses for the first five acres and one horse for each acre after that, meaning a total of eight horses for the Wetter property.

• The horses must be owned by the property owners, otherwise this would be considered boarding, which would need the property owners to apply for conditional use permit through Planning and Zoning.

• The horses will be grandfathered in on the property.

• Zimmer touched on the costs regarding the water, sewer and additional fees, which total $5,550.

The council voted to approve the annexation and the aforementioned conditions.

Council member Bill Bires added to the terms that any future requests from Spring Valley citizens for horses within the city would need to go through Planning and Zoning for approval.

Other business:

• Ballfield dedication sign, which was severely damaged in one of the spring storms. The park budget does not have enough funds to cover the cost of replacement, so she asked the council members to brainstorm ideas on how to raise the money. Any community members or groups who would be interested in helping raise funds or who have ideas on the issue, are asked to contact Zimmer at City Hall.

• The council approved a request by ambulance director Jim Cooper to participate in Grand Meadow's disaster drill. This was approved as long as the city has enough ambulance coverage at that time, since one of Spring Valley's ambulances would be used for the drill.

• Zimmer offered more information on putting in a permanent restroom in South Park for the council to review. The city has received an extensive amount of complaints from the condition of the port-a-potties currently in the park.

• An update was given by Zimmer on local government aid (LGA), which will be increasing $63,079; however the general fund will be seeing another decrease of $43, 000. The economic development fund will be increasing by $25,000, but so far it seems the 2014 budget may be on par with last year's. The council will be having a work session to discuss later this year.

• The next council meeting will be Sept. 9 at 6 p.m.