Council approves purchase of Compadres building

City Council
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     After a closed session at the conclusion of the Feb. 5 Monticello City Council meeting, the council was in a position at its Feb. 19 meeting to approve the purchase of the tax sale certificate on property located at 103. W. First St.

     The former Compadres building, owned by Al Hughes, will soon be in the possession of the City of Monticello.

     “The city has been interested in seeing something done to that building for some time,” commented City Administrator Doug Herman.

     The tax sale was sold to an LLC out of Dubuque. The city was able to negotiate the sale for $2,000. In addition, the city will pay Hughes $2,000 for a quick claim deed. With additional fees, the city will be bale to take possession of the building for roughly $4,500.

     The council also approved a grant application with the Iowa Brownfield Redevelopment Program under the DNR. This grant will assist the city with asbestos assessment, removal, and abatement.

     “The assessment must be completed in order to have the title,” Herman said. “It’s an opportunity to protect ourselves before we take the title.”

     As for the city’s next steps with the building, Herman said that decision lies with the council. They could choose to clean the property up and sell it to a promising business owner or demolish the building and sell the property.

     “This is an excellent job,” praised Council member Dave Goedken in the city’s purchase of the building. “We’ve been working on this for some time.”

     When it comes to making improvements around Monticello, the council heard a report from Noah Johnson with Anderson Ladd, Inc., an athletic flooring company out of Minnesota. The city is looking to remove and replace the entire gym floor inside the Berndes Center at the fairgrounds.

     Johnson offered two flooring options to the council: $70,000 for a sport court and $106,000 for a multi-use floor. (The costs are estimates for covering just over 11,000 square feet.)

     Johnson said after meeting with Jacob Oswald, Parks and Rec director, he would recommend the multi-use flooring option due to the various uses of the Berndes Center, from weddings to car shows to banquets and athletic events.

     Johnson also offered the city a 25-year warrantee versus the previously discussed five-year at no extra cost.

     Oswald said the tentative plan is to remove the floor in early July before the fair. City employees could do that portion of the job, and the fair is not opposed to the removal come fair week.

     Once the fair is over, Anderson Ladd would come in and prep the concrete floor for placement of the new material.

     Herman said his concern would be heavy furniture such as the tables, chairs and wooden stage that gets set up for many events inside the Berndes Center. He suggested the city look into replacement options for a new stage.

     “It’s probably lived its life,” he thought. “We could look for something more suitable for that (new) floor.”

     Council member Tom Yeoman also asked whether the city needed to increase its rental deposit of the Berndes Center with all of the improvements taking place.

     “It did go up recently,” said Herman.

     Johnson told the council that a decision would be needed sooner rather than later to get on their schedule, with summers being their busiest time of the year.

In other city business

     • After the council spent several meetings discussing the Monticello Public Library’s FY ‘19 budget and funding request of $122,500 (a $2,500 increase from the previous year), Library Director Michelle Turnis was present to answer any questions the council had before the March 5 public hearing to approve the budget.

     Council members Goedken and Gary Pratt questioned the need for multiple library staff on hand during the day, but only one staff member present during the evenings and Saturdays. Turnis explained that the staff takes the daytime hours to work on programming and other tasks that need to be done before the library gets busy after school and at night. She said some of the staff leave the library for outreach services and may not always be at the library during working hours.

     “We have stuff to do on top of running the basic library,” she said. “We’re not always at the desk helping people. We all have jobs to do.”

     There was also the question about turning a part-time employee into full-time, which did include benefits amounting to $7,500.

     “She’s a very valued employee and we didn’t want to lose her,” Turnis said of the employee in question. “She’s expanded our services a great deal.” Turnis said the employee was looking for a full-time job and would have left the library if she was able to find work elsewhere.

     Goedken also questioned the library’s financial management.

     “We spend our time efficiently,” spoke Turnis. “This is the first time I’m hearing that you don’t think I manage our funding effectively. We do the best we can for our community.”

     Turnis told the council the library board plans to make a decision on hours of operation and staffing at its March meeting. She said she also informed the library staff of the conversation.

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