Members discuss $400,000 grant to the project, loss to the city
By Robert Williams
The future Northern Dental Access Center (NDAC) was discussed at the meeting of the Frazee City Council onWednesday, Sept. 27.
In August, a tentative agreement was reached between the city of Frazee and Northern Dental Access Center on the purchase of the downtown commercial building on Main Avenue. The center will bring 12 full-time jobs and a number of part-time positions, yet to be determined. The dentists will be contracted. NDAC will be purchasing the entire property and taking over the lease with Seip Drug from the Frazee Economic Development Authority (EDA).
CEDA Economic Development Consultant Don Lorsung submitted a paragraph of text to the city council regarding the city’s contribution to the future dental center to be used in a funding request brochure. The proposed language being:
“The City of Frazee and Frazee EDA welcome the new Northern Dental Access Clinic. The Clinic will locate in the new Downtown Services Building, joining Seip Drug in enhancing the downtown corridor. With the potential investment of over $2 million, along with the creation of 12 new jobs to the community, the City and EDA are partnering in this venture by reducing the cost of the building, which essentially provides a $400,000 grant towards this project.”
The fundraising is needed for NDAC, a non-profit, to raise enough funds to begin the project and acquire a loan for the remainder, according to city administrator Stephanie Poegel.
The $400,000 does equate to a loss to the city.
The council discussed the pros and cons at length regarding the benefits of having the dental center in town versus the loss on the sale of the $1.5 million building.
“The $400,000 is basically what the city is going to lose off of this project,” said council member Mark Kemper. “It’s a huge loss.”
Bonding would likely be used to finance the $400,000.
“It would be a 10-20-year bond and it’s going to end up on the levy at some point,” said city administrator Stephanie Poegel.
The Frazee EDA, who has been the negotiation entity on behalf of the city with the NDAC, also has multiple options to assist in paying for a portion of the money.
“What we’re gaining is they are anticipating 30-40 new families a day coming to town here every day,” said Mayor Mark Flemmer.
“We have to do it,” said council member Andrea Froeber. “There are benefits that we probably aren’t aware of.”
“It should have a trickle-down effect,” Poegel said. “It’s a scary, scary number. I won’t deny that.”
Kemper cast the lone dissenting vote in a 3-1 approval of the request.
“I just look at it as this is a building that was supposedly built to bring a business into town and it was going to, at the time, be sold for more than the cost to build it,” said Kemper. “The EDA was going to make this money and now, all of a sudden, we’re going to lose $400,000. That’s hard to swallow that we spent $1.5 million with the idea we’re going to make money and now we’re going to lose $400,000. How long is it going to take to get the money back?”
Vacant parcel appraised
The city received a real estate appraisal of the city-owned parcel 500013000 in Frazee, 1.64 acres of commercially zoned land along Co Hwy 10/ Juniper Ave West and 4th Street (adjacent to the Skyline Business Center).
The purpose of the appraisal is to estimate the market value of the currently vacant lot for marketing purposes and was instigated upon the city being contacted by a potential purchaser, but the city had no sales price.
After a physical inspection the appraisal by Steven Spaeth Appraisal of Detroit Lakes valued the property at $81,500. The county market value is $26,800 with $8,000 of special assessments for infrastructure. The property was compared to other similarly-sized lots in Detroit Lakes, Frazee and Perham.
The council approved a listing price for the property at $90,000 by a 4-1 vote. Andrea Froeber’s motion was seconded by Mike Sharp, as long as the price was open to negotiation. Jim Rader cast the lone no vote.
Fire Chief Nathan Matejka submitted a department report for August consisting of eight calls: four automobile accidents, two automobile fires, two brush fires.
For training, the department had Hose Deployment/Pumps training during the third Wednesday training, and Black Bridge Pump Ops during the fourth Wednesday of training.
Two F-350 trucks that were ordered last December, have been canceled by Ford.
The department is working with Nelson Ford in Fergus Falls to complete the order.
The department held new recruit testing on Sept. 1 and the council approved Aaron Bachmann and Ross Hetherington as probationary firefighters, pending the results of their background checks and physicals.
The department is currently at a 23-fighter roster with Matejka’s goal being no less than 25.
“We’re still definitely under what our goal is,” he said. “That’s not unique to Frazee; that’s a county, state and nationwide issue that everybody is having.”
Fire prevention is just around the corner from Oct 8-14.
“Make sure there are batteries in your smoke detectors and you have an emergency escape plan in place,” said Matejka.
Chief of Police Tyler Trieglaff reported eight ordinance calls in August with six being settled.
There were 14 letters sent to residents/property owners for a number of different public nuisances, some related to the above call log, some not.
• 6 letters are related to vehicles, too many or inoperable. 5 still need work
• 5 letters were regarding lawn and weeds. 4 taken care of.
• 1 letter was for a falling apart camper. No change
• 1 letter was for toys blocking the sidewalk. Some days clean, some not.
• 1 letter was for construction materials in the yard. No change.
The council discussed continuing the proper enforcement of ordinance calls at length and potential actions for those who do not comply.
The city renewed a five-year contract with Hoffman, Philipp & Martell to complete the city’s annual audit through 2025. The cost is $11,900 per year.
In July, the city office processed 11 campsite rentals, 1 pet license, 7 building permits and 9 properties (25 units) were inspected.
City Administrator Stephanie Poegel is continuing her reconciliation of the city’s finances, along with completing a transfer of payroll systems. She was asked her opinion on the look of the finances.
“I feel like we’re okay; it’s only reconciled through June,” she said. “I feel like we are doing fairly well. There are some areas where we’ve overspent; some areas where we’ve cut back and are evening out.”
Vice Mayor Mike Sharp complemented Poegel on her expertise in finance, allowing Sharp and Flemmer to get a leg up on the preliminary budget.
“We appreciate the amount of work you put in and the knowledge of where things are at,” Sharp said. “You’re not a year on the job, but you are very well-versed on finding information.”
Superintendent Larry Stephenson reported on the completion of flushing the water mains and a week-long repair of the lift station.
He also reported on continuing work on the downtown corner where grass was recently planted. The two parcels were officially transferred to the city, according to Flemmer.
Work is still being planned to improve the exposed wall and corner pillar next to the post office, along with tying in asphalt to be put down in the new parking area and the alley.
Repairing the building at Lakeside Cemetery was also discussed for next spring. Rader suggested it being a valuable project for students.
Liquor Store Manager
The Liquor committee has recommended a replacement for Tonya Mastin as the new Liquor Store manager. There were 11 applicants for the opening with six qualifying, who were offered an interview. The council approved Poegel to offer the position, pending a background check.
Kemper brought up the need to improve profits at the Event Center, after losing money, roughly $30,000 per annum, routinely the past few years.
“The biggest problem is it has very limited income; we get it from rent and the bar; that’s it,” said Kemper. There is no other income there.”
The Event Center currently rents for $1,250 per day or $100 per hour, or $50 per hour for just the kitchen. Non-profit groups get a 50 percent discount.
Plans are to raise the rates to $1,500 per day beginning in January.
The budget of the Event Center has come into more clarity with the improvement of budget management between it and the liquor store. The center needs to make roughly $8,000 per month to break even.
The council approved a donated utility trailer valued at $9,605.50 from the Frazee Fire Relief Association and a $50 cash donation to the fire department from David and Jane Moorhead.