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Mall sign, 2012 budget on city agenda

September 3, 2012
By Josh Moniz - Staff Writer , The Journal

NEW ULM - The New Ulm City Council will meet Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

The Council will consider receiving a report on options to remove or renovate the Marktplatz Mall sign in the City Hall parking lot.

The Council previously approved a decision to seek to remove all competing legal interest in the sign, which would allow it to proceed with the sign as it wants. The sign was initially installed in 2001 through an agreement between the City of New Ulm and former Marktplatz owner John Petroff, who owned the mall through his Retail Investments II, LLC. The agreement lasted 10 years, plus 180 days to state an interest in renewing it.

The City claims neither of the mall's current owners expressed interest nor submitted paperwork before the agreement expired earlier this year. The City claims it has been covering the $100 per month electric bill, despite the agreement stating the cost would be split between the mall and the City.

Since the mall has not using its sign for years, the City is interested in taking control of it and either redoing it as a City sign or removing it to create a new parking space.

For the report, the City is claiming that the wording of the agreement has actually kept rights to the sign with Petroff, not the new mall owners. Petroff has sent a letter to the City, stating he and his company will give up any claims it may have to the sign.

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The agenda states that if the City is interested in utilizing the sign, it could upgrade its LED technology. Preliminary estimates for such work is estimated from $35,000 and $50,000


The Council will also consider accepting the preliminary estimates and limits for the 2013 City of New Um budget.

The proposal would set the maximum the entire property tax levy could increase at 19 percent, or $1,085,496. Last year, while facing major state funding cuts and debt increases, the Council set a maximum increase of 15 percent. The maximum level will not reflect the final tax levy increase, only the highest amount it can be raised for the upcoming budget. The 15 percent maximum increase last year was ultimately cut down to just under 1 percent for the final budget.

Other factors in the proposed preliminary budget include that the City's revenues from interest on its funds decreased $77,680, or 41.78 percent, this year. The revenues were reduced due to the City dipping more into its reserves, leaving less money to generate interest. The proposal also shows that City expenditures decreased by $967,213 from the prior budget.

The Council will discuss options to reduce the tax levy ahead of the public hearings on the 2013 budget on Dec. 4 and Dec. 11. The proposal includes several tax levy reduction options that will be discussed.


Also, the Council will consider approving the Steven Harmening's request to rezone his property across the street from Hy-Vee for the purpose of building an apartment complex.

SpecSys loan

Finally, the Council will hold a public hearing to consider granting SpecSys, Inc. a $350,000 loan from the City of New Ulm's Revolving Loan Fund. SpecSys is locating in the former Caterpillar building.

The loan will be set at 3.5 percent interest rate over a 10- year term. The terms of the loan requires SpecSys to invest at least $750,000 and maintain at least five full-time jobs at $12.50 per hour. SpecSys has already agreed to these terms and is planning to maintain 15 full-time jobs at $12.50 per hour plus a full-time plant manager at $20 per hour.

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at



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