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Paynesville Press - August 31, 2005

Paynesville City Council partners with PayDelCo

The Paynesville City Council took the following actions at their meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 24.

•The council verbally indicated that it was interested in a partnership with PayDelCo to purchase Ampe property adjoining the Industrial Park and develop this as additional industrial lots.

Pat Flanders, chairman of PayDelCo, told the council that nonprofit corporation, which built the initial Industrial Park in the 1970s, has $220,000 in assets, which is not enough to purchase property and develop the necessary infrastructure for an industrial development.

The city council indicated that they were willing to pursue property as a public-private partnership and directed further negotiations with PayDelCo. Both the council and PayDelCo view purchasing property as the first step in additional industrial development. PayDelCo and the city then could apply for grants to help pay for infrastructure. But, depending on how many lots are developed, infrastructure development could cost at least $1.5 million, said Flanders, which PayDelCo cannot afford on its own.

•The council approved renewing its joint powers economic development authority agreement with Paynesville Township. The original agreement founding the Economic Development Authority of Paynes-ville actually expired after one year.

Changes to the new agreement were limiting the terms of non-elected members to four years (from six years). It also includes a termination clause where either party can opt out of the agreement after 30 days with written notice.

The agreement still calls for six members to be appointed by the city - two from the council, one from PayDelCo, one from the Paynesville Area Chamber of Commerce, and two at-large - and for the other three members to be appointed by the township board.

•The council set a special meeting for Monday, Sept. 12, at 7:30 p.m. to interview three firms to provide building inspector services, including the current inspector Mid-Minnesota Development Commission. The city council has indicated a desire to review its building inspector and engineering services before its annual reappointments are made in January.

This special meeting will be held jointly with the planning commission. The city intends to contact local contractors to identify their concerns or desires and to invite them to attend the special meeting.

•The council was informed by public works director Ron Mergen that the city has received a MnReleaf Grant, with which the city will purchase 61 trees. The grant is for $13,742, which the city needs to match a quarter in funds and a quarter in-kind. The trees will be planted on private properties to replace lost trees (due to disease, disaster, etc.) and on public properties.

Anyone interested in getting a tree should contact Mergen at city hall. Initially, one tree will be given per resident, but additional trees may be available depending on the number of requests.

Also, the grant includes having a forester do an inventory of trees on public boulevards and parks.

•The council tabled a proposal to increase fees for a variety of permits (variances, conditional-use permits, rezoning, preliminary plats, final plats, vacations, and lot splits). The proposed increase was the result of Stearns County raising its recording fees from $19.50 to $46.

City staff estimated the city's average cost as $90 for legal (on average), $46 for recording (actual), $40 for advertising (on average), and $20 for mailing (on average), totalling $196 per document. Proposed fees for variances, conditional-use permits, rezoning, and plats were $150.

City council members Jeff Bertram and Dennis Zimmerman raised questions about such large proposed increases ($50 for variances, etc.). They questioned the cost estimates and requested more information before acting.

•The board approved a proposed lease agreement with the Paynesville Area Health Care System for the ambulance garage, which is owned by the city but used by PAHCS for the Paynesville Area Ambulance. The council proposed offering a three-year lease at $275 per month, a ten-percent increase in the rental price.

Proposed to the council was another five-year lease at $250 per month. The lease, which expires at the end of 2005, has PAHCS paying for all utilities and for half of maintenance costs.

•The council approved having SEH make preliminary engineering plans to correct an ice jam that occurs at a culvert on Service Road. The problem, caused by the flatness in the ditch and snow compaction due to high traffic, has worsened since Service Road was paved in 2004.

MnDOT has agreed to participate, after determining the percentage of runoff that comes from the state highway and right-of-way, but the city would have to initiate the project to correct the jam.

•The council rescinded its motion to have SEH prepare legal descriptions and maps for each parcel in a new proposed joint orderly annexation agreement with Paynesville Township and approved having Couri, MacArther, and Ruppe to prepare legal descriptions. SEH had bid $6,000 - though their scope of work would have been greater, individual parcel descriptions and maps - while Couri, MacArthur, and Ruppe will prepare a legal description for the general area for a cost not to exceed $2,000.

The council also discussed miscommunication with SEH, resulting in their larger bid.

•The council was informed by Mayor Jeff Thompson that Sig Pfeifer has submitted a letter of resignation from the Paynesville Human Rights Commission. Pfeifer, the current chair, has served a three-year term. The city is seeking a replacement for Pfeifer.

•The council approved allowing city administrator Steve Helget and any council member to attend the League of Minnesota Cities technology training session on Thursday, Sept. 22.

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