Sept. 18, 2006

Sale of LP police building proposed

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

A creative proposal to make the best use of city resources could solve problems without increasing taxes for Lester Prairie residents.

Consolidation of Lester Prairie’s city hall and police department could address the city’s needs without using any future tax dollars, according to Police Chief Bob Carlson.

Carlson outlined a proposal during Monday’s council meeting that involves remodeling the city hall, and selling the police building.

Selling the existing police building would cover the cost of remodeling city hall, Carlson said.

He explained that estimates provided by a local construction company show that city hall could be remodeled for less than the police building would sell for, in the opinion of a local real estate agent.

He made it clear that no future tax dollars would be used for the move, because city residents paid for the police building years ago.

In addition to providing funds for remodeling, the sale of the police building would eliminate the approximately $800 per year the city spends for utilities on the building.

When it is sold, the building would also generate tax revenue for the city.

Carlson said that, according to the McLeod County auditor, the taxes on the building would be approximately $900, of which $300 would go to the city.

City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk is already forced to store items across the street in the police building due to lack of space in the city office, according to Carlson.

Finding adequate storage space is a problem that will need to be addressed, because state law requires the city and the police department to keep files for long periods of time, Carlson said.

Carlson said that both he and Pawelk will need to ask the city for more space in the near future. The city can increase space and allow for expansion of city services now by selling the current police department building, he added.

In addition to record storage, the city will ultimately need to increase its staff, and there is no additional office space in the building’s current layout.

The large room in the back (west) end of the building would still be available for public meetings, and a divider could be installed so that two meetings could be conducted at the same time if necessary.

The only way the project would proceed is if the building is sold, according to Carlson.

The police department has been located at its current location, the old post office building at 36 Juniper Street North, since fall 1991.

Prior to that, it was housed in the old fire hall at 20 Oak Street North.

The council directed Carlson to continue to refine the plan, taking into account recommendations provided by council members.

The council will consider approval of the final plan during its Tuesday, Oct. 10 meeting.

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