The Sleepy Eye City Council held a special meeting at noon on July 30 to consider bids received for renovation of the City Office building.

The Sleepy Eye City Council held a special meeting at noon on July 30 to consider bids received for renovation of the City Office building—to include renovating the former liquor store as a new police station, adding a garage and making security improvements to the city offices. Brad Schonborn, Oleson and Hobbie Architects, was at the meeting to go over the bids with the council. He said they were encouraged to receive several bids and told the council the bidders all said this is a good timeframe for the project.

The council accepted the low bid from Salonek Concrete and Construction at $689,700, plus $23,800 for a new roof on the entire building, $713,500 total. (The roof portion was presented as an alternate and the council decided to accept it with this project.)

Councilor Dick Zinniel asked City Manager Mark Kober how he suggested the city pay for the project. Kober said they could pay cash or decide to pay part with cash and finance part. He suggested partial financing would be prudent because the city’s investments earn a higher interest rate than would be charged on financed funds. Kober told the council they could make that decision at a later date.

Also discussed was the Community Center building. Mayor Wayne Pelzel said the city had been approached by a party interested in buying the building for a business use. Mayor Pelzel said he visited with a group of senior citizens who regularly play cards at the Community Center and asked what their thoughts were on the issue. He said they indicated they would not be opposed, they just needed a place to gather to play cards.

ShelliRae Zinniel, activity director at Divine Providence Community Home, told the council that some of her residents, as well as some at Lake Villa, enjoy the Community/Senior Center. She asked the council to consider issues of handicap accessibility before making any changes in the location of the senior center.

The mayor said there are many events already booked in the center in the coming months—another issue to consider.

Both Kober and Mayor Pelzel stressed the city has not sought to sell the building, but were discussing it because of the interest expressed.

The next regular meeting of the City Council falls on the primary election day—when government meetings may not be held. The meeting date was changed to Thursday, Aug. 16.

2019 city budget discussed

At the council’s July 10 meeting, Kober introduced a tentative city budget for 2019, suggesting increases for streets and downtown development. On July 19, the council met for a finance committee meeting to discuss the proposal in more detail. About 20 business people attended the meeting to hear the discussion and offer their input and support for the increase in downtown investment by the city.

Kober said the budget would remain about the same as last year in other areas, while he suggested an increase of $76,000 to the EDA for downtown development programs, and an increase of $113,000 for city streets. “When we did the survey, the top two issues that people wanted improved were downtown and streets—that’s why I have the increases in there,” said Kober. “I’m a short-timer, so I’m not afraid to say we should spend the money.”

Kober is still working on the budget. The proposed increase in taxes at this time is 12.47 percent. The council must approve a 2019 preliminary budget and submit it to the state auditor by Sept. 15.