Royalton puts fire hall ownership topic to rest

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

 

After extensive research and discussion, the Royalton City Council has put to rest the issue of its Fire Hall ownership by choosing to not make any changes.

The city was approached in August 2012 by Bellevue Township leaders to consider acknowledging the township as part-owner of the Fire Hall. This was based on the fact the township had made 12 annual payments to the city for $4,058, from 1996 to 2007.

Extensive research by both city and township members could not turn up any formal agreement regarding the Fire Hall. Documents even mentioning the annual payments were scarce.

“We asked the township to provide paperwork to explain the intent of the agreement, but they don’t have any,” said Royalton City Clerk Carol Madsen.

Council Member Al Libke spoke with Joe Kroll, who was a Bellevue Township board member at the time the payments began. He also spoke with Jeannie Trettel, the township clerk at that time.

“They had no memory of the intent of any annual donations,” Libke said.

Council Member Ed Zimny spoke with former Royalton Fire Chief Tom Weinand, who also had no recollection about any intent of ownership by the township.

Libke presented four options for the Council to consider in resolving the situation.

“First, we could do nothing,” he said. “Second, we could come up with a formula to determine the percentages of ownership, but I don’t know how to create that formula.”

Libke also proposed the city could buy back the exact amount the township paid to the city. Last, he suggested the city could consider buying back what the township paid, but at a discounted level.

“Several of these options would incur financial hardship for the city, the township and taxpayers of both,” Libke said.

“Joint ownership would give them more say-so,” said Council Member Ron Verley, “but they would have to then bear more financial burden of ownership. We could assume things about what was intended, but we won’t ever know.”

“We have no plans to disband the fire department or tear down the Fire Hall,” said Libke. “There is no reason to incur legal and accounting costs for something that might possibly happen.”

The Council voted unanimously to maintain the status quo by doing nothing.

The Council authorized the city to write a letter to the township notifying them of the decision.

“We would like to put an end to this,” Mayor Andrea Lauer said. “We appreciate their donations to the Fire Hall, but for the given reasons, we are not going to entertain the idea of co-ownership.”

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Other business that came before the Royalton City Council Tuesday included:

• Approving the purchase of a 2013 two-wheel-drive Chevrolet Tahoe for $27,998, which includes the police package. Delivery will be made 60 to 90 days after ordering. Funds will be drawn from a fund dedicated to squad car replacement;

• Approving the purchase of a “Rescue Randy” training mannequin for the Fire Department for $1,282.95 plus $160 shipping;

• Approving the addition of Ted VanHove to the Fire Department roster;

• Approving a request by the Hausenfluck family at 314 N. Birch St. to have an enclosed chicken coop with four to six chickens (no roosters);

• Approving a bid for street sweeping by Astech of St. Cloud for $95 per hour, a $12 per hour increase over last year. “Each application is normally done in one day, 12 to 13 hours,” said Lee Popp, city Public Works superintendent;

• Approving the purchase of 16 banners to be displayed throughout the city, replacing many that are tattered and torn for a cost of no more than $1,200 plus tax;

• Accepting a Morrison County cleanup day grant for $403 and a Morrison County cleanup day recycling grant for $1,408;

• Approved a contract with Clarke Environmental Mosquito Management of Clearwater for 12 applications at $600 per treatment for up to 20 miles of streets. Scheduled dates for 2013 spraying are May 22, every Wednesday in June and July and the first two Wednesdays in August. The cost will be $7,464.15 per season through 2015, with a 30 percent early discount;

• Tabling discussion of the subdivision ordinance changes;

• Authorizing Council Member Ron Verley to meet with Marcella Surma and Catherine Dillenburg, property owners adjacent to the Smieja parcel on North Birch Street which is being subdivided for the city’s purchase of land for a new well. Property lines overlap and the city is seeking the simplest solution; and

• Approving up to two people to attend the League of Minnesota Cities conference June 19-21 in the TwinCities;

The next regularly scheduled Council meeting will be Tuesday, May 7 at 7 p.m. at the City Complex.

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