Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, July 10, 2000

City of Winsted may purchase old Niro-Sterner building

By Jane Otto

"I would like to see the city buy that building. It's the cheapest solution to a new city hall," said Mayor Floyd Sneer at the city council meeting Thursday.

Sneer was referring to the old Niro Sterner building on Sixth Street, now owned by Millerbernd Manufacturing.

City offices were housed there temporarily in 1997 when they were moved out of the deteriorating city hall downtown.

Millerbernd's has offered the building to the city, and that a decision needed to be reached soon, Sneer said.

A decision to purchase the building might have a direct impact on the city's pending lawsuit with the Winsted Preservation Society, said City Administrator Aaron Reeves. He suggested the council discuss the matter in a closed meeting with its lawyer so that all issues can be covered rather than skirt certain issues which affect the lawsuit.

City Attorney Fran Eggert said that one option would be for him to discuss the matter with George Hoff, the attorney representing the city in its lawsuit.

"I can find out if the issue of a possible purchase or non-purchase of that building or other possible uses for the old city hall - whether that should be the subject of a closed or open meeting," Eggert said. "It might be a good idea to have an open meeting on it where everybody can come."

Reeves said the council can't make a decision at a closed meeting.

It was decided that the council will discuss the issue in a closed session with Hoff and then in an open meeting.

The closed session is planned for Tuesday, July 18 at 5:30 p.m. prior to the council's next regular meeting at 7 p.m.

In case of any scheduling conflicts, Monday, July 17 was suggested as an alternative date.

Monthly utility bills

City Clerk Betty Zachmann presented the council with a cost comparison on the city issuing its utility monthly or quarterly.

The council agreed to go with the monthly billing system.

Monthly billing showed an annual savings of about $300 and an additional $1,700 in interest due to a monthly cash flow. Zachmann also pointed other advantages to monthly billing.

One advantage is that meter reading errors could be caught sooner which would enable meter repairs or replacements to be done on a more regular basis. Zachmann said there wouldn't be meters stuck at the same reading for six to nine months.

Zachmann said that a new system of billing may take awhile for customers to adjust to, but it will also help to "alleviate financial hardships" of trying to pay a larger quarterly bill.

Monthly billing will probably begin sometime in the fall.

"Now, if only we could get our tax levy implemented monthly," said council member Gary Lenz.


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