Fire talk

Fergus Falls Fire Chef Ryan Muchow addressed the Fergus Falls City Council Tuesday night after the legislative committee recommended dropping the fire station upgrade from a sales tax proposal they plan to take to the Legislature in February.

Fergus Falls Fire Chief Ryan Muchow was asked to “take one for the city” Tuesday night as the City Council voted 6-1 in favor of a sales-tax scenario which the Minnesota Legislature might green light.

By dropping the $11,113,200 the fire department needs to upgrade their station and reducing the amounts which the proposed aquatics center, trails plan and DeLagoon Park upgrades were asking, the sales-tax plan dropped from $36,162,000 scenario to one of $21,151,200. 

Instead of paying interest on the projects over 28 years to the tune of $12,050,000, the city is looking at paying off $4,624,000 on the three projects in 16 years. 

Bremseth said there were three main points behind the the rationale for the committee’s proposal to take the fire station upgrade out of the mix - the fire station project could be more of a five to seven year project than an immediate one, the fire station project is a prime project for state bonding dollars and finally, the huge cost of financing all four might hurt the fire station’s chances in a November sales tax vote.

Muchow was briefed on Tuesday by City Administrator Andrew Bremseth about the Legislative Committee’s proposal to put the fire station upgrade to one side.

“We certainly are understanding,” Muchow told the council Tuesday evening. “Seeing that there are needs there we thought we had a pretty good plan there that wasn’t frivolous.”

Muchow, who had his share of supporters in the room, told the council he “did not want to see the conversation stop.”

In throwing his support behind the fire station project Public Safety Director Kile Bergren said, “I think it provides a little bit of a balance between want and need.”

Councilman Tom Rufer, a member of the Legislative Committee, feels the aquatics, trails and DeLagoon projects will help the city expand its tax base and help it grow.

“These are projects that people have asked us to do,” Rufer said. “These are projects that are going to not only give people and families in Fergus Falls things to do and reasons to stay here, reasons to move here and make the quality of life better here, it is going to attract people from outside of Fergus Falls to come to town.” 

Councilman Anthony Hicks said he thought that by dropping the fire station upgrade the council was “taking that choice away from the people.”

In other business the council approved resolutions granting tax rebates for homes at 205 and 212 Anna Court, carried a motion in favor of approving an assignment of developer’s rights in the TIF refinancing of Wings Financial Credit Union and gave a thumbs up for the 2020 legislative priorities as suggested by the Legislature Committee. The state Legislature convenes Feb. 11 in St. Paul.

Consent agenda items passed by the City Council were: 

• A motion directing the city attorney to draft changes to the city code regarding interim uses and tax exempt uses in B-3, B-5 and B-6 zones. 

• A resolution accepting Moore Engineering’s professional services design proposal in the amount of $27,920 for PI 5956, the Burlington Avenue street improvement project.

• A resolution initiating PI 5330, an overlay project on College Way from Tower Road to Lincoln Avenue and ordering the project plans and specifications.

• A resolution authorizing the city engineer and city attorney to execute MnDOT’s Highway Easement Agreement for the FFM Airport Runway Protection Zone (RPZ).

• A resolution authorizing staff to seek quotes for a bicycle and pedestrian master plan.

• A resolution approving budget adjustments.

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