Corcoran backs out of $210,000 ball field commitment

Rockford Schools had decided not to build in Corcoran

The Corcoran City Council, Thursday, April 10, voted unanimously to back out of the city’s commitment of $210,000 over three years for the Rockford School District varsity baseball field that originally was proposed for a Corcoran location.

The council decided that Corcoran should talk with Rockford Schools about a second financial issue involving $45,000. The city and the school district had collaborated on getting a grant for defraying construction costs.

Council action on the $210,000 was in the form of approving a resolution to rescind a Jan. 9 council resolution. This was the document in which city councilors approved the $210,000.

The project seemed to have a lot of momentum since it was pitched in 2013. The varsity ball field was proposed for land owned by the school district that was conveniently located next to Corcoran’s ball fields. With this arrangement, the two sets of ball fields could share a parking lot. Rockford Schools is one of several school districts that serve Corcoran residents.

But there was a catch. Road improvements and turn lanes would be needed, and these would cost the city some money. Corcoran’s financial costs for the ball field project seemed to be growing.

Then on March 17, winds shifted the proposed ballpark toward an easterly direction. The Rockford School Board decided to locate the varsity ball field somewhere in Rockford rather than in Corcoran. The School Board action prompted the city of Corcoran to do some research on what to do about the two lingering city financial commitments to the project.



The City Council also approved the sale of $442,000 in equipment certificates to finance purchases under the city’s capital improvement for 2014-2015.

Some of the money will pay for equipment that will be installed at the new Corcoran Public Works Facility at 9100 County Road 19. An overhead crane costing $50,000 will help public works employees avoid injuries as they install snow plow blades. A $50,000 welding hood will be another safety feature in the new facility. Another large purchase will be two new squad cars (replacing old ones) at a total cost of $80,000.

Corcoran has 10 years to pay off the equipment certificates at 1.75 percent interest for the first five years and 3 percent interest for the second five years. Annual payments will increase Corcoran’s property tax levy in amounts ranging from $53,032.88 to $54,075 per year.




In other news, City Administrator Brad Martens asked the City Council for feedback on agreements with Mobile Hope and Maple Hill Estates pertaining to construction and operation of the proposed Maple Hill Community Center.

The draft agreement called for city ownership of the facility for the first five years, after which ownership would be transferred to Maple Hill Estates. Maple Hill Estates would responsible for all ongoing costs of maintenance and repair. Mobile Hope would be responsible for costs beyond the $225,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds. Corcoran’s responsibility would be $18,078.

Several city councilors said they were concerned about financial risks to the city. Councilors asked City Attorney Jeff Carson about requiring indemnification on the part of Mobile Hope and Maple Hill Estate to compensate the city for any failure to meet their financial commitments.

“Mobile Hope is not going to be able to give us security,” Carson said.

This prompted a couple of comments that fundraising might be in Mobile Hope’s future.

Mayor Ken Guenthner said he was concerned that Mobile Hope might walk away and, as a result, no programming would be taking place at the community center. If Mobile Hope does not fulfill its commitment, Corcoran would have two choices. One would be to ask Maple Hill Estates to reimburse Corcoran for the value of the building. The second choice would be to make the building part of Corcoran’s city infrastructure.



During its regular meeting, the City Council also conducted Corcoran’s Local Board of Review, at which a dozen or so property owners protested the market values assigned to their properties for taxes payable in 2015.

City Assessor Rolf Erickson provided some statistics that explained why some property owners were upset. He said some types of land in Corcoran have increased significantly in market value between 2013 and 2014. Residential market values went down by 7.6 percent between 2012 and 2013 but then went up by 16.8 percent between 2013 and 2014. Market value of tillable land increased from $6,888 per acre to $7,800 per acre. Value of pasture and woods was increased from $2,755 per acre to $3,900 per acre.

A Corcoran senior citizen said he could not handle annual increases in his property taxes because he is on a fixed income. He asked the council whether it wanted to see seniors being forced out of their homes and living on the streets. Assessor Erickson said he had reduced the man’s property value as much as he could under the law, and other seniors have the same problem.

He said the only way for seniors to get real relief was to persuade the Minnesota State Legislature to change the law.

In other action, the counci:

RECEIVED annual reports from the Hanover, Loretto and Rogers fire departments.