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$1.1M housing and commercial rehabilitation grant supported by Willmar, Minn., City Council

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$1.1M housing and commercial rehabilitation grant supported by Willmar, Minn., City Council
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- Business and homes in Willmar and Raymond will benefit over the next two years from a state grant worth nearly $1.1 million.

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The Willmar City Council approved several resolutions Monday evening to pave the way for the Small Cities Development Project funding.

The two-year grant will help downtown businesses make improvements and will also rehab owner-occupied homes and rental homes in southwest Willmar and in Raymond.

Sue Johnson, a housing specialist with the Housing and Redevelopment Authority, said the program already has applications for the money.

The grant will provide funding for 25 to 30 projects, she said. More than 70 applications have been received already.

"We do it on a first-come, first-served basis," Johnson said. "We keep going until the money is gone."

Council member Jim Dokken noted that statewide funding for the program has dropped, from $20 million two years ago to $13.8 million this year.

"We are maximizing the amount we can apply for," said Planning Director Bruce Peterson, and each time the city has received funding, all of the money has been spent.

Johnson said applicants must meet income guidelines, and rental owners will have to agree to keep rents at the same level, with increases allowed only in keeping with market rates.

Previous grants have helped homes and businesses in Willmar, Atwater and Pennock.

The council approved a contract to provide firefighting services for Willmar Township for the next year at a cost of $20,500. The city has a similar agreement with Dovre Township.

The same formula has been used to determine the amount for years. It takes into account the hours of service received the previous year, the value of property in the township and depreciation on Willmar Fire Department facilities and equipment.

Council member Steve Ahmann questioned the formula. He said he thought the townships should be charged for a portion of the city's training costs, too. "They're getting a heck of a bargain," he said.

Fire Chief Marv Calvin said the formula was developed by the League of Minnesota Cities along with townships and fire departments and is widely used.

The council approved the contract 7-to-1, with Ahmann voting against it.

In other business, the council:

n Renewed all the city's on-sale and off-sale liquor licenses.

n Approved contracts with two law firms to provide legal services following the retirement of former City Attorney Rich Ronning. Flaherty and Hood of St. Paul will be the city's primary legal counsel, and Anderson Law Offices of Willmar will be the city's prosecutor.

n Voted to vacate Harold Avenue Northwest, which was planned but never built. The right-of-way runs through the current Northside Park.

WILLMAR -- Business and homes in Willmar and Raymond will benefit over the next two years from a state grant worth nearly $1.1 million.

The Willmar City Council approved several resolutions Monday evening to pave the way for the Small Cities Development Project funding.

The two-year grant will help downtown businesses make improvements and will also rehab owner-occupied homes and rental homes in southwest Willmar and in Raymond.

Sue Johnson, a housing specialist with the Housing and Redevelopment Authority, said the program already has applications for the money.

The grant will provide funding for 25 to 30 projects, she said. More than 70 applications have been received already.

"We do it on a first-come, first-served basis," Johnson said. "We keep going until the money is gone."

Council member Jim Dokken noted that statewide funding for the program has dropped, from $20 million two years ago to $13.8 million this year.

"We are maximizing the amount we can apply for," said Planning Director Bruce Peterson, and each time the city has received funding, all of the money has been spent.

Johnson said applicants must meet income guidelines, and rental owners will have to agree to keep rents at the same level, with increases allowed only in keeping with market rates.

Previous grants have helped homes and businesses in Willmar, Atwater and Pennock.

The council approved a contract to provide firefighting services for Willmar Township for the next year at a cost of $20,500. The city has a similar agreement with Dovre Township.

The same formula has been used to determine the amount for years. It takes into account the hours of service received the previous year, the value of property in the township and depreciation on Willmar Fire Department facilities and equipment.

Council member Steve Ahmann questioned the formula. He said he thought the townships should be charged for a portion of the city's training costs, too. "They're getting a heck of a bargain," he said.

Fire Chief Marv Calvin said the formula was developed by the League of Minnesota Cities along with townships and fire departments and is widely used.

The council approved the contract 7-to-1, with Ahmann voting against it.

In other business, the council:

- Renewed all the city's on-sale and off-sale liquor licenses.

- Approved contracts with two law firms to provide legal services following the retirement of former City Attorney Rich Ronning. Flaherty and Hood of St. Paul will be the city's primary legal counsel, and Anderson Law Offices of Willmar will be the city's prosecutor.

- Voted to vacate Harold Avenue Northwest, which was planned but never built. The right-of-way runs through the current Northside Park.

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Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340
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