By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Will there be a pharmacy in St. Mary’s Care Center as part of the upcoming $2.5 million remodeling project this fall, and if there is, who will own and operate it?
No one at Tuesday’s Winsted City Council meeting seemed to know the answer, so the public hearing to approve preliminary financing for St. Mary’s upcoming projects is being continued at the next council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 17 at 6 p.m.
A senior vice president with Piper Jaffray, Eric Lunde, who had been retained by St. Mary’s Care Center owners Living Services Foundation, spoke to the council regarding the financing needed for two St. Mary’s projects hoped to be started by Sept. 1.
In addition to refinancing the notes that the city issued in 2008 for the new Ridgeview Clinic, and major renovations done to St. Mary’s Care Center; Lunde asked for an additional $3.2 million for the new assisted living with memory loss facility, and $2.5 million for a remodeling project to St. Mary’s Care Center. The total is approximately $17 million.
“Like other municipal debt that is done on behalf of nonprofits, the reason we come to the city is because nonprofits can’t issue their own debt and have it be tax-exempt. It has to go through a conduit, and in this case, it is the city. There is no liability on the part of the city,” Lunde said.
Approval from the council seemed close at hand, when Lunde said he forgot to mention St. Mary’s was moving a pharmacy into the care center.
“It would be run by the gentleman that runs the drug store in town,” Lunde said.
“I don’t think we talked about a pharmacy in there,” Mayor Steve Stoko said. “I don’t know if that was ever brought to the planning commission or to this council.”
Council Member Tom Ollig said the council was not able to keep a business from relocating, but the council should know what the plan is.
“Are they relocating,” Stotko asked, “or is this in addition to?”
Lunde said he didn’t want to respond without talking to someone from St. Mary’s.
Ollig asked City Attorney Fran Eggert if the council was able to approve the financing at this meeting with the exclusion of the pharmacy and have that discussion later?
“Preliminary approval is preliminary, but on the other hand, I would best describe it as a purchase agreement. You are binding the city,” Eggert said.
Lunde told the council there would be another public hearing at the city’s meeting Tuesday, Aug. 17 to ask for an additional $1.5 million for the same projects.
According to Lunde, there were some site improvements that needed to be done and the construction contractor and owner had some miscommunication which resulted in additional work and expense estimated at $1.5 million.
“This meeting had already been published,” Lunde said. “You can’t pull it out of the newspaper once it has been printed, so we decided to schedule another hearing in two weeks to increase the amount.”
Eggert suggested the public hearing just be continued until the next council meeting since additional financing for the same project would be discussed at that time.
Lunde said the timing would work for him.
“By no means is this a final approval and I will make sure folks at St. Mary’s know that you were not aware of the pharmacy,” Lunde said.
Stotko asked if the pharmacy located at St. Mary’s would have to get approval from the planning commission.
Winsted City Administrator Andrew Elbert told the council he would look at zoning before the next meeting to see if a retail business can be included on the St. Mary’s campus.
“We don’t risk not having this project go forward by not adopting the preliminary resolution tonight?” Ollig asked.
“You can certainly continue any public hearing before you take action, and you have a question to ask that is important to you,” Eggert said.
Lunde told the council that a representative from Living Services Foundation was unable to make this meeting but would be at the next one.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• listened to a report from Winsted Fire Chief Chad Engel, who reported there are currently 25 members on the Winsted Volunteer Fire Department roster, which ideally has 30 members.
“We are reviewing our interview and test portion of the hiring process right now so two applications are on hold,” Engel said.
• appointed the following officers to the City of Winsted Summer Festival Committee: Dale Maus, Rose Heimerl, Lisa Baumann, Gerald Heinen, Gary Rathmanner, Steve Fiecke, and Pam Fiecke.
• approved contracts for the Winsted Summer Festival with Outreach for Underwater Adventures to display animals at Hainlin Park, outdoor fireworks display with RES Specialty Pyrotechnics for fireworks Saturday, Aug. 7 for $3,500, and for Betsy bingo with a cow in Hainlin Park Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 7-8.
• approved a quote of $8,975 from Alex Air Apparatus to install a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) air tank fill station at the Winsted Fire Department, included in the 2010 budget.
• approved the repair and replacement of the doors and locks at the Winsted Fire Hall by Russell Security Resource at a cost of $4,960, which was included in the 2010 budget.
• approved a quote of $2,479 from Zoll Medical Corporation to purchase a new defibrillator for the fire department.
• approved a grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation/Office of Aeronautics for $1,050 to prepare a storm water pollution prevention plan for the Winsted Municipal Airport.