The Crookston City Council elected to release the second mortgage for the Crookston Inn & Convention Center during a special Ways & Means Committee meeting Monday evening and finalized the decision at the regular Council meeting after hearing from a plethora of people on both sides of the matter during the Open Forum portion of the night.
Council members went back and forth during the special meeting about what it meant for the city to do the release and one councilman thought they might be doing things too fast.
During the committee's opening discussion, Assistant Mayor Dale Stainbrook said there's been some "misinformation" going around saying the city would be "forgiving" the Inn's loan which wasn't true. He said the city would be "on the hook" for about $30,000 instead of the $130,000 that's been previously discussed.
"Doing this doesn't mean that we aren't going to try other avenues to recoup money that's owed the city from the (Todd) Jacobson's," Stainbrook explained. "It's a legal matter."
City Finance Director and interim City Administrator Angel Weasner talked about the city's promissory note from Jacobson Hospitality, LLC, and mentioned that the Crookston Inn's bank, United Valley Bank, is owed $1.7 million, adding that she has met with the bank and discussed the situation, and "in reality", they'd have to sell the property for $2 million+ to come out ahead and that's not going to happen.
"If they don't reopen, we won't get anything," added Stainbrook.
At-Large City Council Member Tom Vedbraaten suggested things were going too fast in regards to releasing the mortgage and argued that something similar happened with the former coffee house, Cofé. He even asked to table the discussion on the Inn until the next council meeting so they could go through everything, but his motion died when there wasn't a second.
Vedbraaten also admitted he had not attended last week's Policy and Review Committee meeting when the proposed mortgage release was discussed and was later snapped at when he brought up feeling rushed again.
When it came down to vote at the special meeting, Vedbraaten said he'd like to see the Crookston Inn reopen and voted for releasing the second mortgage.
During the regular City Council meeting, after hearing from a number of people opposing the release of the Inn's mortgage during the open forum, Vedbraaten had a change of heart, again going back to the fact that he felt they should wait, and was the sole vote against the release.
Vedbraaten asked why the Inn couldn't just reopen without having the mortgage released and Weasner explained that they have to have a clear title and since the city has the second mortgage the title wasn't clear.
During the special Ways & Means Committee meeting, At-Large City Council Member Bobby Baird asked what the city will do if the Jacobson's file for bankruptcy and was told by Weasner that it would depend on how long it takes and how much it will cost. Baird also asked what the current value of the Crookston Inn was and Weasner said she didn't have a copy of the most recent appraisal in front of her.
When asked about past due bills for utilities, property taxes and the city's lodging tax, Weasner and Stainbrook verified that the Crookston Inn's bank has paid their past due utility bill and property taxes, and hope to get their liquor license reinstated. Weasner also said the operating manager of the hotel, once it reopens, will be responsible for submitting the lodging tax.