The Pequot Lakes City Council hired David Drown Associates to establish a tax increment financing district in the Heart of the Good Life development for $5,500 plus expenses not to exceed $500.

Sourcewell may provide up to $3,000 in assistance for this process, the council learned at its Tuesday, Jan. 5, meeting.

The Heart of the Good Life is an 85-acre, shovel-ready certified parcel of land adjacent to Highway 371 and the Paul Bunyan Trail. TIF is a method of financing public or private improvements that are needed to serve new development. While the existing tax on the property continues to be paid, the increase in tax value of the property is returned to the developer for a set period of time to help pay off the cost of the development.

The council scheduled a public hearing regarding the proposed TIF district for Tuesday, March 2, at the regular monthly council meeting.

The council and the city’s Economic Development Commission last summer discussed improving the Heart of the Good Life business park, centered around a first potential tenant - a new facility for Xcel Energy on land west of the city’s public works facility. Discussion included several funding sources for improvements, including establishing the TIF district.

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The council must establish the TIF district before Xcel Energy constructs its facility for the city to use the tax increment to support the new infrastructure planned for the business park.

Cooperative road project

On a split vote, the council declined to enter an agreement with Bolton & Menk to conduct phase one engineering for a cooperative road project request for proposals. Total cost is $102,526, of which Pequot Lakes’ share would be 45.4%, or $46,546.

Council member Cheri Seils said this would determine the cost for the road projects, and the entities could later decide whether they wanted to proceed with any projects.

Other entities that are part of this are Breezy Point, Ideal Township and Jenkins Township. Roads involved are Buschmann Road, Nelson Road, Akerson Road and Wild Acres Road. The ultimate goal would be for Crow Wing County to take over these roads if they were built to county standards.

The Breezy Point City Council approved the request Monday, Jan. 4. The township boards were to take up the matter at meetings this week.

Seils and council member Pete Clement voted in favor of the request for proposals, but council members Scott Pederson and Dan Ronning and Mayor Tyler Gardner were opposed after considerable discussion about Akerson Road and the inability to do all the roads at the same time because of cost.

The council will further discuss this at a Monday, Jan. 25, special meeting and relate discussions to the other government entities involved.

Public safety

Fire Chief Tom Nelson received council approval to contract with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to buy a 2009 Freightliner chassis for $7,000 and approved use of Great Plains Fire for approximately $65,000 to modify the chassis on the Freightliner to accommodate a water tank from another tanker truck.

“Replacing this tanker through this process will assist in our truck rotation at a much lower cost than purchasing a new tanker,” Nelson wrote in his report to the council.

Nelson said the department will need a new truck next year, and an engine three years later, according to the capital improvement plan. However, the department doesn’t have the necessary funds.

“So it’s a lot of money in a hurry that we just don’t have,” Nelson said. “In my opinion, this is a good upgrade of this truck, keeping our costs down.”

When asked, he said the cost to replace the truck this year would be $300,000, as it’s the largest of the department’s three tankers. Nelson later said it would cost $165,000 to put a new tank on the current truck.

Renee Kardell was hired as a volunteer firefighter, bringing the department to 27 firefighters. There is room for three more firefighters.

In his written report, Nelson said the fire department had three calls in November: a reported structure fire canceled enroute in Pequot Lakes, a ballast fire in a structure in Pequot Lakes, and a mutual aid structure fire in Nisswa.

The council acknowledged police officer Mike Davis’s successful completion of his six-month probationary period.

The council also approved the annual law enforcement contract with the city of Jenkins for $41,200, which represents no changes from 2020.

The police report noted 274 calls for service in November.

In other business Jan. 5, the council:

  • Awarded the Larsen Parkway street and utilities improvement project to DeChantal Excavating, the lowest responsible of 13 bidders, for $370,240. The city received a $164,700 grant for this project.

  • Heard praise from Pederson for City Clerk/Treasurer Angie Duus and Utility Billing/Administrative Specialist Jenny Peterson for their extra work while the council pursued hiring a city administrator.

  • Approved annual city committee and department appointments, as well as appointments and reappointments to city boards and commissions. Those include: Sheila Holley and Jon Lubke, Economic Development Commission; Michael Ridgley, Housing and Redevelopment Authority; Courtney Gran and Faith Kimbler, Library Board; Kent Johnson, Park Commission; and Eric Larson, Steve Caouette, Jenni Gonczy and Andrew Ellering to the the Planning Commission.

The city still has two Park Commission openings and one Library Board opening.

  • Agreed to contract with CTC as the city’s IT support provider.

  • Agreed to meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, to discuss 2021 priorities.

  • Agreed to a one-month $2,000 spending limit on budgeted line item purchases until council approval is received so new council members can better understand the process.

  • Renewed refuse hauler licenses for Nisswa Sanitation, Pequot Lakes/Gull Lake Sanitation, Water Management and Waste Partners.

  • Made annual appointments, including: official depositories, First National Bank of Pequot Lakes and Wells Fargo Bank; official newspapers, Echo Journal (main) and Brainerd Dispatch (secondary); insurance agent of record, First National Bank Insurance Services; city engineer, Widseth engineering firm.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.