Travel plaza project continues to move forward
The Keim Travel plaza project continues to move forward after multiple items were approved during the Fairview City Council on Thursday, Feb. 3, at the Fairview Community Building. Present for the meeting were Mayor Art Vonderschmidt and council members Bridget Harvey, Steve Holthaus, Charlie Kramer, Sierra Renner and Doug Bletscher. Also present were Community Center manager Joann Keim, city treasurer Kim Rettele, secretary Christine Rosenberger, Martin Mishler and eight members of the public.
Keim Travel Plaza
Mayor Vonderschmidt introduced Mishler, who brought multiple items for the city to sign in order for the Keim Travel Plaza to continue moving forward. Items on the table included a resolution for Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRB); the contract for the sale of the property for the additional truck parking, which was approved during the January meeting; and construction materials sales tax exemption form.
Mishler explained IRB Bonds to the council.
“Cities are authorized to issue Industrial Revenue Bonds,” Mishler said. “The city is not obligated to perform under those bonds, but simply as a pass through entity. So, bonds are issued by the City. They are guaranteed and paid by other entities. The city simply acts as a pass through on behalf of the developer who is going to construct with those funds whatever you have authorized.”
Mishler continued by explaining the benefits of IBR bonds.
“The benefit for doing that for them is that the purchaser of the bonds is entitled to the interest that they earn on that, and it’s like a CD. People that buy those, they’re paid interest and it’s tax deductible to them. So there is a benefit to the people that buy the bonds and then of course to the developer. It is a way to finance construction that has tax benefits. So, the project that Keim’s are proposing is a maximum amount of $5 million to acquire real estate and then do all that’s involved with any constructing travel plaza, truck stop, fuel, restaurant, and service facilities. The resolution that is before you this evening for you to adopt is simply a resolution of intent. This is the first step of many steps in the process, but you would be saying that the city has an interest and are participating in this project, and you would agree to issue up to $5 million of IRB bonds for the project to occur.”
After discussion, the council approved Resolution No. 2022-01, to approve the IRB bonds.
Additional Truck Parking Contract
Vonderschmidt said he sent the contract to the council members for their review and asked if there was any opposing comments about it from the council.
Rettele said there weren’t any opposing comments from the council, but as a taxpayer, she had a concern.
“As a taxpayer, when we started this, you told everybody at the meeting in December that it wasn’t going to cost the City anything,” Rettele said. “It’s going to cost the city attorney fees. It’s right here in the contract and I just don’t understand why the city should have to pay anything when they approached us, and we’re basically giving them the land because they are giving us $15,000 for the land that they sold that was given to them. I just don’t think it’s right. I don’t think we should have to pay anything.”
Vonderschmidt said he had a different opinion.
“It was drawn up in a professional manner, the way most sales agreements are drawn up,” Vonderschmidt said. “I mean, total cost wise, what are we out? What would the title insurance cost?”
“I’m guessing that it is going to be less than $1,000,” Rettele said.
“The buyer is paying the title insurance and the closing costs,” Mishler said. “You’re just paying my fee. You pay me every month anyways. And they [Keim] are doing the survey too. I don’t think there are any additional costs to the city.”
“I’m good with that, because that is not how it came out,” Rettele said. “That was my point, I just don’t think we should have to pay anything. So, if that is how it is set up, then I’m good with that.”
“I didn’t want this to get into a greedy negotiation with them,” Vonderschmidt said.
Fairview resident Jessica McCulloch said that the city had made “promises” during the December meeting, including control of the land and a fence between the additional truck parking and the city park.
Vonderschmidt said he would request a fence and “that is all anybody can do.”
“He said he would build a fence,” Bletscher said. “Stan holds by his word.”
The council voted all in favor of the land sale contract.
Sales Tax Exemption
Vonderschmidt said Mishler had a sales tax exemption form the city would need to approve and fill out.
“Martin [Mishler] had another issue, the sales tax exemption form that we have to fill out, so that the equipment and construction materials are tax exempt from sales tax,” Vonderschmidt said.
“If the council wants to authorize the mayor to sign that, if it’s needed, then that wouldn’t have to come back before the council,” Mishler said. “Since the city doesn’t have sales tax, it just exempts them from state sales tax.”
According to Vonderschmidt, Stan Keim said the contractor is waiting on the sales tax exemption form, so materials can be bought and ordered for the project.
The council voted in favor of the sales tax exemption form.
Awnings on Main Street
At the January meeting, the council decided to send a letter to multiple businesses on Main Street to inquire if the awnings – which were damaged during the Dec. 15, 2021, wind storm – on their buildings were covered by the business’ insurance. Vonderschmidt said he had spoken with Carol Reynolds, Donnie Wikle and Casey Votruba about their awnings, but they were still waiting to hear back from some businesses.
“Carol is supposed to get back to me to see if the awnings were covered specifically or not,” Vonderscmidt said. “I did talk to Casey Votruba about his awnings, and he said his insurance company stops at the front of the building. Evidently, if he bought an awning and put it on there, he said it can’t be insured. Donnie Wikle said he is willing to put the awnings back up, however everyone wants to do them. If the awnings get put back up, then it will probably be done by the city.”
Holthaus said he doesn’t understand how the awnings are the city’s responsibility.
“I still don’t understand how the city ever put up awnings on somebody else’s building,” Holthaus said. “To me, if you go and put an awning on my building, and I’m in agreement that I want to do it, I would think the person putting it up would say it’s yours. If something happens, I’m not liable. I don’t see how the city can be liable for their buildings.”
Rettele said she would double check with the City’s insurance company to see if there was anything that pertained to the awnings.
Vonderschmidt said if the awnings don’t get put back up, then “it’s one more thing towards the deterioration of downtown.”
Without full knowledge on whether the awnings would be covered by the individual business’ insurance, the topic was tabled until the next meeting.
Jesse Davis’ Barbecue
The council discussed additional property throughout town, including a lot next to the Fairview Post Office for Jesse Davis’ Barbecue business that was brought up during the January meeting.
Rosenberger said she had received an email from the Brown County Appraiser that Davis was in the office asking about property lines on 115 South Main.
“They wondered if we had any documents showing the dimensions of the property, because they don’t have anything,” Rosenberger said. “I emailed her back saying, ‘Maybe you need to look at the property next to it, who just had a survey and see if you can figure it out, because I don’t know what we would have.’”
The council discussed that location further, but Vonderschmidt said he “wasn’t sure how far he [Davis] wanted to pursue it [the project].”
“He’s selling out of his shed right now,” Vonderschmidt said.
Rosenberger asked for clarification saying, “So, we don’t want to do anything with it until he approaches us again?”
“I would say so,” Vonderschmidt said. “I was looking for someplace like that Post Office lot, which is pretty much already spelled out. The street corner thing is kind of a no-man’s land.”
No decision was made on this topic.
Vonderschmidt said he was going to show Butch’s property to someone.
“So we’re going to have to decide some day, since we got turned down on the grant to rehabilitate it, what we’re going to do with the property,” Vonderschmidt said.
Vonderschmidt asked McCulloch that if she wanted to be on the agenda for the council meetings, she would need call and request to be on the agenda, as well as informing the council of the topic she is planning to bring up.
Vonderschmidt said the inspector came on Tuesday, Feb. 1. Vonderschmidt said they went through the Community Building and there were a few things which need to be corrected, including changing regular electrical outlets to GFI outlets, and then the outlets on the electrical poles in the Fairview City Park need changed to GFI outlets. Vonderschmidt continued, saying the old bench grinder has to go as well, because there are no guards on it.
City Code/Animal Control Position
The council discussed the job description for the City Code/Animal Control position. Renner and Rosenberger continue to work on developing a job description for the position.
Rosenberger said she would plan on bringing the sewer report to the March meeting.
Also at the meeting:
McCulloch also asked for when the city snow plows her alley, to not “block” the alley in to where she can’t get out.
The council approved the minutes from the Thursday, Jan. 6, meeting.
After a few questions by the council, the treasurer’s report was approved.
The council approved all the bills to pay.
The next Fairview City Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at the Fairview Community Building.