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City Council seeks clarity on City Auditorium spending

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WILLMAR — It may only be semantics.

But Willmar City Council members want clarification on whether the $250,000 in the city’s 2014 capital improvement program (CIP) is budgeted just for renovation of the City Auditorium’s indoor gun range or if the plan budgets for both the auditorium in general and the indoor gun range.

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Council member Bruce DeBlieck said that a sentence in the April 28 Finance Committee minutes was inaccurate when the sentence said, “It was noted that $250,000 has previously been designated in the capital improvement program for indoor gun range improvements.’’

The minutes, read by Finance Committee Chair Denis Anderson at Monday night’s council meeting, reported the committee directed staff to determine funds available from three sources to pay for nearly $600,000 in needed auditorium improvements, which include gun range renovation and lead abatement, as recommended in a consultant’s study.

DeBlieck referred to minutes of the Dec. 2, 2013, council meeting when the 2014 CIP was reviewed with staff and noted the amount budgeted for the “auditorium/indoor gun range’’ was increased to $250,000 “and that is what was passed by the council.’’

DeBlieck said he thought that last week’s Finance Committee minutes should state that the CIP funding was for the “auditorium/gun range.’’

Council member Ron Christianson said the original CIP stated indoor gun range and updated information stated the funding was for the indoor gun range. He said whoever made the comment about “auditorium/gun range’’ was referring to the $250,000 in the CIP, “which clearly states where it was to go.’’

Anderson said he wasn’t sure the issue mattered in the grand scheme of things.

“We know we’ve got roughly $600,000. We have ideas now where the money will come from. I’m not terribly concerned that this was dedicated for this and this was dedicated for that. It needs to be done and I think we’ll just put it in the pot and get it all done,’’ he said.

Council member Steve Ahmann agreed it needs to get done.

DeBlieck also agreed, but said there has been a lot of discussion in the community that the $250,000 only was only for the gun range, “which is not true.’’

Mayor Frank Yanish asked what the $250,000 was for. Christianson said indoor gun range and DeBlieck said auditorium/gun range.

“It may be semantics. But there are other things in the entire auditorium that need to be addressed,’’ DeBlieck said.

City Administrator Charlene Stevens said the council gave direction on the three funding sources and to proceed with the three improvement phases.

Those were hazardous material (lead) abatement caused by the firing range, installing new ventilation equipment in the auditorium, and renovating the gun range.

Stevens said the three phases are, in a sense, ultimately tied together.

“The range is within the auditorium and the issues of both have to be addressed for it to be a functional range and functional auditorium,’’ she said.

Council member Audrey Nelsen asked if staff could review the minutes to see if a correction should be made. Nelsen said she is concerned for the message being sent to the community because some information with council members names attached is being shared on Facebook that is not accurate.

Yanish asked if the council could get clarification.

Stevens said staff can research minutes, audio and video, and determine what was said.

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David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150
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