Council members concerned about some of the wording table resolution a third time

    The Crookston City Council this week for the third time in as many meetings tabled a resolution that would have approved a development agreement with Jeff Evers, a required companion component tied to the establishment of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District for his redevelopment of the Fournet Building downtown.

    The council previously approved the TIF District, a necessary part of Evers’ financing package. But in order to certify it with Polk County and fully establish the district, the development agreement must be approved as well. Until it’s approved, Evers cannot start any construction in the building, where as part of the first phase he will renovate the second floor, which is poised to become home to his primary tenant, Tri-Valley Opportunity Council.

    Also as part of his financing package, Evers has a $50,000 loan from CHEDA and a $250,000 loan from the City’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP). Loan recipients are typically required to have a life insurance policy so the City can recoup the remaining principle balance in the event something happens to the borrower. Evers was still finalizing his life insurance policy at the council’s previous two meetings so the resolution was tabled. City Finance Director Angel Weasner confirmed that Evers’ policy is in place and active at the council’s meeting this week, but the resolution was tabled a third time because some council members expressed concern with language in the agreement regarding City Administrator Shannon Stassen and Mayor Guy Martin having discretion in the event of changes in the agreement.

    At Large Council Member Tom Vedbraaten was most vocal in saying he didn’t want to approve the resolution until the language was addressed; he said he preferred that the agreement language indicate that any proposed changes needed to go to the full council for consideration. Weasner said the attorney involved with setting up the TIF District would be consulted regarding the wording that spurred concerns; the Times was not able to determine at press time Wednesday if the attorney had been spoken to yet.

    City Attorney Charles “Corky” Reynolds said he didn’t know why the language was worded the way it was, but he added there’s a chance that specific TIF rules means the wording needs to be a certain way.

    Stassen said he didn’t read it as anything giving him or the mayor sole discretion in approving any changes, but that it was more about things like “executing signatures to move things forward.”

    Weasner noted to the council and mayor that if any changes were proposed to the TIF agreement, by law it would have to go back to the council and a public hearing would have to be scheduled.

    But if the council still wanted further clarification, Martin said he agreed that the resolution should be tabled again.

    Evers told the Times after the meeting that there’s a chance the council, which doesn’t meet again until April 22, could schedule a special meeting to address the resolution if the TIF attorney can sufficiently address council concerns prior to that.