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Council gives preliminary OK to BID district idea

"This has a long way to go before there's a BID district," said City Attorney Carl Koch. The amount of the per room hotel fee was not discussed Monday night. Koch said he purposely left out the Corn Palace Motel and Chief Motel in the preliminary...

"This has a long way to go before there's a BID district," said City Attorney Carl Koch.

The amount of the per room hotel fee was not discussed Monday night.

Koch said he purposely left out the Corn Palace Motel and Chief Motel in the preliminary proposal, since those two hotels were "ma and pa" operations

or smaller than the larger franchises such as the Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn and Kelly Inn.

"The (majority) of the proponents of (a convention center) are the franchise operators," said Koch, adding that none of the hotels north of Havens is supported by a franchise.

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Councilwoman Joyce Jones said she did not know if the hotel owners would support the proposed area.

Some hotel personnel and owners have said that the only fair BID district would be one that includes all of the hotels in Mitchell, Jones said.

City officials began talking about a BID district while looking for ways to help fund the construction of an estimated $3 million to $4 million convention center in Mitchell as a way to boost the retail economy during the winter months.

A BID district has been a popular option among some city officials. Spearfish, for example, reportedly generated approximately $90,000 a year from its BID district.

Koch placed the resolution for the preliminary designation of an area for the BID district on the Council's agenda Monday night as a matter of completing a legal step. He said the action does not mean the city will proceed with such a district.

State law requires the Council to make a preliminary designation of the area before choosing the actual area, which also will require the mayor to appoint board members for the district.

Councilman Ed Anderson was not in attendance at Monday night's meeting due to a family matter.

Sidewalks

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Council members instructed city officials to take samples of some of the faulty sidewalks that were poured in 2001 and to contact contractors about the problem.

The tops of the sidewalks have "flaked" off in about 12 to 15 locations, said Sidewalk Committee Chairman Ralph Wallace III, an employee of the city public works department.

Wallace said that one individual has refused to pay the assessment on his sidewalk because of the problem.

"I would be unhappy about that (also)," said Councilwoman Bev Robinson.

Wallace said that one theory about the flaking is that the cement that came from the plant in Rapid City was too hot. The plant was owned by the state at the time, he said.

However, Wallace said that no one knows for sure why the sidewalks flaked, and added that he wasn't sure that testing would reveal the reason.

Council members said some samples of the sidewalk should be tested anyway to make sure.

Councilman Bill Rubendall said that either the contractors or the cement plant should be responsible for replacing the sidewalks. Wallace said about three contractors work on city sidewalks.

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In other business:

  • Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling said the Corn Palace's two cone-shaped minarets are expected to be moved today from the balloon museum to Trail King in order to be painted. Schilling said that Doug's Custom Paint and Body will paint the minarets this week and the structures may be placed back on the Corn Palace either Friday or Monday.

    City officials expected to replace the minarets weeks ago, but Schilling said it's been difficult to find an appropriate building to paint them in.

    The south minaret was blown from its frame more than a year ago, and the north minaret was removed as a safety precaution. The structures are more than 20-feet tall and 10-feet wide.

  • Tim Kenyon, a geologist with Leggette Brashears and Graham, of Sioux Falls, presented information to the public concerning the leachate problem at the city's landfill. Leachate from an old portion of the landfill has leaked vinyl chloride into groundwater in the area.

    Kenyon said the contamination has not drained into Dry Run Creek and there is no public danger.

    City Public Works Director Tim McGannon said that on average vinyl chloride has been measured at 10 parts per billion while the standard is 2 parts per billion.

    Since the vinyl chloride breaks down when it hits the air, one way of dealing with the problem would be to plant willow and poplar trees to oxygenate the below ground water. Another method would be to pump the water out of the ground and treat it.

    The city expects to pay in the area of $60,000 to consultants in order to come up with a way to solve the problem.

  • Councilwoman Dorla Verhey was sworn into office and served at her first meeting. She was appointed to the board by Council members last month to replace her husband, the late Don Verhey.
  • A conditional use permit was tabled for Tony and Les Schoenwald to operate a manufacturing business at 718 N. Duff St. and 724 N. Duff St. The business would manufacture fiberglass headliners for vehicles. Council members said they wanted more information concerning the smell of the glue that would be used at the operation. The glue smell apparently has an onion-like odor.

  • A temporary liquor license was unanimously approved to Dr. Lucky's for an MBA basketball game on Feb. 5 at the Corn Palace.
  • The first reading was approved for a supplemental appropriation ordinance of $50,000 for new Christmas decorations. About $15,000 will come from the city, $15,000 from the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce, and the rest from donations.
  • Council members held an hour-long executive session with different city officials at different times, including Public Safety Chief Doug Feltman, Parks and Recreation Director Randy Ahrendt and Schilling. The reason for the executive session was said to be contractual. Committees

  • Council members on the public health and safety committee were told that about seven to eight street lights in the south Highway 37 area will cost the city approximately $8,400 to $11,000. The overall project would cost between $42,000 and $56,000 and would be paid mostly by the South Dakota Department of Transportation. There is no timeline for the project at this time.

  • Koch told the finance committee that last year's legislation to simplify the sales taxes in South Dakota will not hurt city finances. The Legislature approved simplifying sales taxes in 2006, and Gov. Mike Rounds has proposed speeding up the process to 2004. The simplification is a nationwide movement to remove the undue burden on Internet and catalog retailers from charging and paying sales taxes.

    Koch said that Mitchell will have to remove its exemption on food from city sales taxes, but that in the first year the city will not be allowed to gain additional revenue from the change in the sales tax.

    City Finance Officer Marilyn Wilson also handed out updated sales tax collection sheets for 2002. First- and second-penny sales tax collections were up 2.08 percent from 2001 to 2002.

    However, the third-penny sales tax, or the bed-and-booze tax, saw a 7.98 percent increase.

    The city budgeted for a 3.5 percent increase for all city sales tax revenues.

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