Motley Council tables issue of empty buildings, businesses leaving

By Tina Snell, Staff Writer

Motley business owner Tom Zetah asked the Motley City Council Tuesday night what it was doing to bring businesses to town.

“I have been trying to sell my hardware store for several years with very little interest,” he said. “People are not interested in buying in Motley. I want to know what the city is willing to do to help it grow.”

Zetah cited possible deferred taxes on new businesses as a way to entice new entrepreneurs to Motley.

“We need to give them an incentive,” he said. Zetah also has an empty building in town for sale.

Zetah told the Council he is looking at liquidating his store. For health reasons, he is wanting to retire. But, he does not want another empty building in town.

Councilman Duane Solga said it was why he got on the Council in the first place.

“I wanted to help Motley grow. But, I’ve come up to a brick wall and don’t know what to do,” he said.

City Treasurer and Clerk Terri Smith said that Job Z, Tax Increment Financing, the city’s revolving loan program and more are available. But some programs would be for new businesses in the industrial park only. Other programs need the business to sign a business subsidy agreement to hire a certain number of employees in order to receive deferred taxes.

“There are four highways coming into Motley, so we have the traffic,” said Councilman Bruce Mills. “But we don’t have a city planner and I am unable to help you. I have no idea how to guarantee anything for you or another business.”

Zetah said that people are shying away from small towns and with businesses leaving, it detracts from the city.

“It’s a sad state for Motley,” he said.

The City Council tabled the matter until more information could be brought to a future meeting.

Motley City Council briefs

Other business conducted by the Motley City Council Tuesday night included:

• Tabling a request from Dairien White to remove the assessment on his 50-foot lot located on Beaulieu Street. He said there is no access to the lot from the street and he will never sell it as it would detract from the adjoining lot his home is on. The lot is too small to build on and slopes inward, which would cause problems for any structure. City Clerk and Treasurer Terri Smith said the Council needs to find out who else is affected the same way as White before the city makes any changes to the assessments. Information will be brought to the budget meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m.;

• Amending the liquor license for the H and R Ten Hi to include a roped off area in the parking lot for the July 26-28 Motley Two Rivers Music Fest;

• Approving a change order for the wastewater treatment facility improvements by adding 56 feet of additional gutters and downspouts at cost of $4,384. While the cost could be reduced by having the work done by another company, the liability would be voided;

• Approving the contract for construction services with Widseth Smith Nolting at approximately $70,000 for the 2012 street project;

• Voting to allow the Free Methodist Church to erect an electronic sign in the same area its current sign is located;

• Deciding to call a public hearing, the date undecided, to change a city ordinance to include city council members as the Planning and Zoning Commission;

• Voting to offer Morrison County $1,000 for the 6.4 acres of property known as Mill Pond;

• Learning from Fire Chief Dave Greig that the five sets of turnout gear had arrived, but he had not heard from the Department of Natural Resources about its grant;

• Voting to purchase valve frequency drives for the water treatment plant to increase the quality of water and control the flow. Maintenance supervisor Wayne Barros said the cost would be about $4,000 minus a rebate and the city should see a return in their money within three years;

• Voting to send out requests for proposals on a study at the water treatment plant to determine if the filters should be rebuilt or a new plant is needed. Barros is concerned with the quality of water coming from the plant at this time;

• Approving assistant maintenance supervisor Bruce Brotherton to represent and make decisions for the city during the 2012 street project;

• Learning the solid waste fund is working in the red. The Council will look at changing the billing to ensure the enterprise at least breaks even;

• Moving the regular August meeting to Wednesday, Aug. 15, so as not to conflict with the primary elections;

• Learning a representative from the Small Cities Development Program will attend the August meeting to give the Council an update on how the program is going;

• Switching the city’s checking account to First International Bank and Trust from Unity Bank;

• Approving the use of fireworks during the Motley Two Rivers Music Fest with the stipulation the city is listed on the liability insurance; and

• Voting to accept Terri Smith and Deanna Thompson as head judges; and Lorraine Macho, Lydia Goodwater, Joseph Mrazek and Patsy Roberts as judges.

The next City Council meeting will be held at the Motley City Hall Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 7 p.m.