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Menahga City Council finances nursing home expansion project

The Menahga City Council awarded the sale of $4,915,000 in general obligation nursing home revenue bonds.

The low bidder was Baird of Milwaukee, Wisc., offering a 3.1885 percent interest rate.

The bonds will be used to finance the Greenwood Connections expansion project. The project consists of adding 15 private rooms with a transitional care unit focus, plus remodeling 15 existing double-occupancy and 27 single rooms into 42 private rooms.

"It was a good day to sell bonds," said Todd Hagen of Ehlers, the city's financial advisor, at the June 12 city council meeting.

There were two bids, "one really good one. And that's what counts," he said.

The principal amount of the bond is $4,875,000. Bond payments will be made from Greenwood Connections' revenue.

"This is a big bond for you guys," Hagen noted. "We're happy that you maintained an A rating."

The city council also authorized Ehlers Investment Partners to manage the bonds "in a manner in which there will be net earning during the project," according to the memorandum.

Hagen explained that the bonds will be invested in a safe manner, such as U.S. Treasury bills, U.S. agency bonds, certificate of deposits, so the city can draw down the funds as needed for the building project.

Ehlers' proposal estimated earnings of $51,905 and an estimated $7,118 fee, resulting in net earnings of $44,787.

Liquor license issues

At Monday's meeting, the city council announced two public meetings regarding a special election to give the city authority to issue liquor licenses within city limits.

Public input is requested at one or both meetings on 7 p.m. Monday, June 19 at 7 p.m. and 1 p.m. Monday, June 26 at city hall.

According to City Administrator Janet Bower, the city received a request from Cindy Peterson of Wild Walleye for a restaurant liquor license. Peterson informed Bower she had no intention of serving alcohol in her restaurant, but needed the license to obtain a caterer's license for use outside the city.

Presently, the City of Menahga is not authorized by voters to issue any type of license other than a club license (VFW, American Legion, etc.)

By Minnesota Statute, no city may issue additional licenses until a special election is held and voters have authorized it.

Seasonal campsite project

The council agreed to increase Memorial Park and Campground fees. Effective June 15, each campsite and pavilion fee was increased by $5. Weekly rates were also increased by $5 and calculated for one free night, not two.

At previous meetings, the city council has discussed developing eight seasonal campsites.

Ulteig Engineers projected the total design and construction cost at $80,139 — or $10,017 per campsite.

Bower said funds are available from the city's reserves or a loan from the general fund to the park fund.

At a June 1 special meeting, Mayor Patrick Foss requested that the council move forward with the expansion, but it died for lack of a motion.

In other business, the city council did the following:

• Accepted the resignation of Jerry Wisuri from the planning commission and the mayor's appointment of Larry Murphy to the open position.

• Authorized creating two full-time positions at the municipal liquor store, eliminating the need for two part-time positions. Foss noted it has been difficult to recruit part-time workers. The increased salaries and benefits costs $14,000. The motion passed 3-2, with Councilmembers Tim Ellingson and Maxine McNeece opposed. McNeece expressed concern about the timing of creating new positions since the council approved a feasibility study. She suggested the study would offer staffing advice. Foss argued that the need for additional help exists, particularly since it is the busiest time of year for the liquor store.

• Denied a request for a part-time janitor at the liquor store. It died by lack of a motion. Vice Mayor Craig Lawrey and McNeece suggested that the two, newly created full-time workers would have time to complete janitorial work. "We just had an audit report. We don't have tons of money for hiring," McNeece said.

• Agreed to submit an application for a 2017 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Grant. The city applied last year, but did not win an award. The grant pays 75 percent of an entry level police officer's salary for 36 months. The city is required to pay a 25 percent match for three years, then fund the position 100 percent for one year. If awarded a grant, the city's portion would total $74,961 over four years. The motion passed 4-1, with McNeece opposed. "I don't think we can afford it right now," she said. The city council may reject the grant, if it is awarded, Foss noted.

• Accepted a $1,500 donation from Shane Keranen to the Menahga Fire Department.

• Authorized the expenditure of $2,000 to the Menahga Lions Club for their assistance during Midsummer Celebration.

• Approved a lease agreement between Menahga Public School and Green Pine Acres. The school rents one room, at $280 per month, to provide nurse's training courses.

• Learned that the League of Minnesota Cities will not raise its membership dues this fiscal year. This is the first time that dues have remained flat since 2012.