By Ivan Raconteur
New Germany recently had the rare luxury of multiple candidates for its vacant city council seat.
“I’m so happy that someone even applied. It’s been a struggle to get people interested,” Mayor Pete Pederson said during Tuesday’s New Germany City Council meeting.
Two candidates stepped forward to apply for the council seat vacated by the resignation of Chip Purcell last month.
Jim Paul has been a resident of the city for two years, and has operated a business in the area since 1991.
Jessica Goenner recently moved to the city from Waconia.
“Both are really well-qualified. It will be a tough decision,” Pederson said.
It was a tough decision.
On a show of hands, council members Steve VanLith and Shirley Jaeger voted for Paul. Pederson and Council Member Marc Trujillo were in favor of Goenner, resulting in a tie vote.
In the end, Pederson said Goenner’s resume made her a good candidate for the planning commission. He said if she would agree to accept the planning commission position, he would change his vote.
Paul was then appointed to fill the vacant council position through the end of the year, and Goenner will be sworn in as a member of the planning commission at its next meeting.
VanLith encouraged both of the candidates to run for city council in November, when the city will have three seats and the mayor position up for election.
In addition to the seat that is being temporarily filled by Paul, the terms of Jaeger and Trujillo end this year.
Another ‘deal breaker’ for Trophy Lake Estates
In what has become a familiar occurrence, City Engineer Sheila Krohse began her portion of the meeting by announcing “we’ve run into a bit of another glitch with Trophy Lake Estates.”
In June, the council agreed to a proposal that would have allowed developer Grant Hustad to provide a bond equivalent to 50 percent of the assessments for the development as security.
The estimated assessments for Trophy Lake Estates is $1.1 million, and the city asked for security of $500,000 to ensure that the city will be able to make bond payments for utility improvements needed for the project.
Since that time, Hustad found he was unable to get a bond in that amount.
Krohse said Hustad was asking to provide a letter of credit rather than a bond (something the city wanted in the first place), but was asking the city to reduce the amount to $250,000.
“At this point, it’s a make-or-break deal,” Krohse said.
She explained that the letter of credit is a benefit to the city, because if the assessments are not paid, the city can easily draw on the letter of credit.
There was some discussion about risk to the city.
Krohse pointed out that the city already assumed some risk when it built the new well and water tower, and said the city “needs something to happen” to pay debt service on those projects.
“We could make this work,” Krohse said of the new proposal.
Hustad then said he now plans to do the project in phases, which seemed to take Krohse by surprise.
“Then you don’t have a final plat. If you change or separate the property, we have to start all over. The final plat that was approved was the whole project, 60 lots,” Krohse told Hustad.
Hustad said he now plans to include 45 lots in the initial phase and 15 later, and delay purchase of 40 acres of the 160-acre site. He did, however, agree to pay cash up-front for the assessments that would be due on the 15 lots.
“A year ago, when we were looking at this, it was an entirely different world,” Hustad said.
The council agreed to accept the $250,000 letter of credit. This will be included in the developer’s agreement that has yet to be worked out.
Hustad said he would like to start grading as soon as possible.
“If Grant wants to start grading, that is his prerogative. The grading permit that was drafted last year was always at his risk. There is no final plat approval yet,” Krohse said.