Wyoming Council working on plan to buy vacant bank building

Alice Pickering
Wyoming Reporter

Wyoming City Council is being up-front during its discussion about the possible purchase of now-vacant RiverBank building. City staff and officials continue to investigate issues related to a purchase proposal for the building one block west of US-61.

Council and staff fielded more questions from residents about these plans during the open forum of the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, May 1. City residents Dan  Babbitt and Ed Hine expressed concerns. Babbitt said it would be a mistake to take the property off the tax rolls.

Mayor Eric Peterson explained that the site where the public works department is located is probably the more valuable piece of city property.

Hine asked about cost of remodeling of the bank building and the current city hall. Any plan would incorporate costs for remodeling; of the current city hall to be used as expanded public safety space for police, adjacent to the fire hall.

Public works would likely be moved to the current police facility which is based in the former Wyoming Town Hall.

Peterson explained that this is in the query stages. The building has been appraised at $1.2 million according to April 17 work session minutes. City staff is working to prepare a proposal to FDIC.

Architects must also determine the cost of remodeling in that building and current city hall. Peterson explained that a purchase agreement would have contingencies.

The city attorney report indicates that FDIC is willing to engage or entertain the city’s proposal. This would all have to be within what the city staff projects. Factors to consider include building price, remodeling costs for two buildings and interest rate for the financing package.

To move ahead on any purchase, bonding would be required, according to City Administrator Craig Mattson.  Part of the process for bonding would be a public hearing.

All this information would be needed to make a decision on whether or not to hold a public hearing to consider a bond sale. Staff estimate of $2 million bond at three-percent over 20 years would impact a $200,000 house at about $35 a year or $3 a month, officials said.

Road Work

Road work is scheduled in and around Wyoming this summer.

In anticipation of the road reconstruction and utility work on Fallbrook Avenue, the city council adopted a resolution to restrict parking on both sides of the road.

City Engineer Mark Erichson explained that the 28-foot road design means there is no room along the road side for parking. While the restriction was not adopted when the north end of the road was completed, it is required now. The reason is because the work is being partially funds by state-aid money.

The vote was 5-0. The resolution applies to both sides of the street for its entire length.

Improvements for city gravel roads are also scheduled.

Council approved a request from Jason Windingstad, public works director, to purchase gravel from Dressel Contracting for a quote of $7.80 a ton. The other quote was for $9.79 a ton. Public works has a budget of $30,000 for gravel in 2012.

Grading on some roads is now on dirt. Windingstad said the plan is to apply gravel to road surfaces on Hemingway Ave., Innsbruck Ave., and part of 275th Street. At the quoted price crews should be able to apply four inches to the 26-foot width of all the identified streets.

Windingstad told the council he keeps a daily review of the amount of gravel hauled and therefore the cumulative cost. Council unanimously OK’d the purchase.

Montzka Visits

County commissioner Ben Montzka reported on a North Branch community meeting with Rep. Bob Barrett and Sen. Sean Nienow as speakers. One discussion topic was the potential for the expansion of the fiscal disparities program to include up to four more counties.

Currently, the seven metropolitan counties participate in this program. The principal of the program is that participating counties share a portion of their commercial and industrial property taxes.

About 40 percent is pooled and redistributed according to a formula, which can benefit counties with a smaller commercial tax base. At the meeting Barrett expressed support for Chisago County participating in the program, believing that the county would see a net gain in tax money.

Montzka is more cautious, thinking that cities within the county would not necessarily receive the same benefits.  He believes Wyoming and Stacy would be paying more into the program than they would receive. There is also a trade-off.

The county “will lose local control over zoning issues involving future growth,” Montzka said.

Other Topics

The council approved an amended agreement for the building code and septic inspection services between Chisago County and Wyoming. Fred Weck, building inspector, recently completed advanced septic certification.

Weck said this will enable him and Chisago County inspectors to trade-off and cover inspections if someone is not available. Much of the work is in-office review of plans. Hourly wage is $67. Approval was unanimous.

Linder’s is joining with the Friends of the Library in a fund-raising effort to support the Wyoming Giese Memorial Library. Linder’s Garden Center is donating 15 percent of pre-tax purchases to the library. Dates of the event are May 11-14. To participate, mention the library and present a coupon.

Those who are planning to purchase plants can check at the garden center. Mention the library and present a coupon. The fund-raising donation will be directed to the library. All Linder’s locations, including the seasonal operation next to Rainbow Foods in Forest Lake, is taking part.

For more details, visit http://www.wyominglibraryfriends.org. There is information about the event and a PDF file which has the coupons.

Council member Linda Yeager and Steve Sicheneder encouraged gardeners to participate and to print a coupon for a friend.

Other Business

In other business, the council:

•Appointed Matt Pikus to the Wyoming Volunteer Firefighter on probationary status for 2012.

•Approved the minutes of the April 17 council work session.

•Approved the minutes of the April 17 regular council meeting.