Sports center plan draws few critics

Public hearing held on school district’s plan to purchase arena


Mary Bailey
Community Editor

At a public hearing on Thursday, May 30, no one spoke against the school district buying the Forest Lake Area Athletic Association (FLAAA) Sports Center.

Only two persons went to the microphone to address the school board. FLAAA’s Larry Porter thanked the board and said he has no regrets about what his organization has done for the community.

“Kids didn’t have to go to Blaine or somewhere else” for ice time, he said.

Varsity boys hockey coach Aaron Forsythe applauded the board’s purchase plan, calling it “a relief to hundreds of families in the district.”

Board members also received a letter from varsity girls hockey coach Ryan Sauter supporting the purchase.

Besides the school board and superintendent, only 12 people attended the public hearing, and at least half of those were district employees.

(Before the meeting, board members did receive communications from residents opposed to the purchase.)

The hearing began at 6 p.m. with presentations by District 831 Business Manager Larry Martini and Mikaela Huot and Patricia Heminover of Springsted, a public sector advisory firm.

The district plans to borrow no more than $3.4 million to buy the arena using a special type of general obligation bond that does not require property owner consent.

Adding 14 years of annual debt service, estimated at $516,000 per year, brings the total cost to $3,916,000.

For a house assessed at $200,000, the annual property tax increase would be $10.

A $500,000 commercial property would see an increase of $51, and a 160-acre farm, $24.

The next step in the process will be June 27, when the board sets the sale of bonds and adopts a tax abatement resolution.

The bonds are scheduled to be sold Aug. 1, and the district would receive the proceeds by early September.