The Fergus Falls City Council approved housing tax rebates on six properties during their Tuesday night meeting at City Hall.

Resolutions approved called for rebates at 1703, 1705, 1707 and 1709 South Cascade Street, for property on Rollins Beach Trail and at 608 Ann Street. Making the respective requests were Prairie View Development, Josh Burda and Joseph Bienick, and Edward Newman Jr. of NCS Homes Inc.

The council approved a resolution authorizing Mayor Ben Schierer and City Administrator Andrew Bremseth to execute the appropriate documents related to the Rustic Ruff Dog Grooming Salon economic development loan and facade loan. Chelsa and Andy Anderson requested an Economic Development Loan for $50,000 and a $10,000 Facade Loan for their business at 1024 19th St. According to Business Development Fergus Falls (BDFF) and Community Development, the city will be receiving interest on the loan. The Andersons have indicated they were willing to sign corporate and personal guarantees on the $60,000 loan.

A resolution approving the refinancing of a 2020 bond issuance passed by a majority vote after Doug Green pointed out it should save the city $550,000 over the next 12 years.

A resolution accepting a request for proposals (RFP) by G&S Holdings for the property located at 320 West Alcott Ave. The city razed a dilapidated single-family dwelling at the address in July of 2018 and has maintained the property since that time. According to the Fergus Falls Public Works Department director, the costs to date are $27,582.70 which includes acquisition, hazardous substance assessment, title work, landfill charges, survey work, property taxes, labor and equipment.

City finance director Bill Sonmor recommended action on the fund balance policy amendment. The council approved a fund balance policy on Nov. 6, 2006, and updated that policy the following day. The current policy recommends maintaining an unassigned fund balance in the general fund in the range of 35-50% of the subsequent year’s budgeted expenditures. The same fund balance range applies to special revenue funds. Sonmor pointed out the policy could also be amended to a range of 35-40%. The high end of that percentage would be an adequate high-end fund balance in response to potential decreases in other city funding.

“I really feel this was the right thing to do,” Sonmor said.

Sonmor’s final contribution to the meeting was in laying out the city’s preliminary budget and levy for 2021. The council will be approving the final budget in December. With the Minnesota facing a $4 billion deficit due to the costs associated with COVID-19, Sonmor told the council it is not unreasonable to expect a 20% decrease in local government aid (LGA) funding in 2021. Sonmor added that the city has put itself in a position to weather “a rainy day year.”

The council approved a motion by Councilman Anthony Hicks to accept a 25% decrease in council pay beginning in January 2021 and ending in 2022.

Among the consent items approved were:

• A resolution approving the 2021 fee schedule.

• A motion allowing the public works director to designate an assistant animal control officer to carry out the duties in the absence of the animal control officer.

• A resolution approving a conditional use permit to split duplexes into individual lots in an R-2 zone located at 1821, 1823, 1825 and 1827 Cascade Street South as requested by Donavan Rogness of Prairie View Development with the condition a party wall agreement is recorded to each deed.

• A resolution approving a preliminary and final plat to create one lot subdivision called “Dunham’s Addition”, for the property located at 2001 W Lincoln Avenue as requested by Westridge Mall Limited Partnership.

• A resolution approving a variance to rebuild a new dwelling on a lake lot not meeting the 75-foot setback to the lake for the property located at 1926 Pine Circle as requested by Thomas Kingston.

• A motion directing the city attorney to change the zoning map by amending the official zoning map from I-1 to R-2 for multiple property addresses located along Main Street as requested by the city of Fergus Falls.

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