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Tuscola City Council approves $46,025 for Outlet Mall

By Kendra Hennis 
The meeting of the Tuscola City Council was called to order at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, November 24 with all council members present. 

Following the approval of the consent agenda, Mayor Dan Kleiss began his report. He reminded council members and residents that December 2 is the last day for leaf pick up. He also gave thanks and praise to city employees for the Christmas decorations going up around town. 

The council then approved the renewal of employee health insurance plans for the 2021 calendar year at a better or current rate of the city. Treasurer Alta Long reported that this was a bad year for claims on employee health insurance, so they are still in search of the best rate price for city employees. The approval by the council allows City Administrator Drew Hoel to sign off on the best plan under the approved terms for the benefit choice period to begin December 1. The council also approved the formal contract with MSA Professional Service Inc for construction engineering services for Ervin Park Improvements Project in the amount of $8,000. This is part of the larger Ervin Park Project that has been approved by the council in previous meetings. 

Following, the council approved providing TIF assistance in the amount of $46,025 for Outlet Mall lease, environmental, platting, and other consulting services at the Outlets of Tuscola. The city is working with a potential buyer of the mall who requested the additional TIF funding. The money will go towards tenant and lease evaluation consulting fees ($31,525), environmental clearance and ALTA survey ($6,500), and survey and platting ($8,000). Hoel noted that he is hopeful that the end goal will result in a buyer of the property, but if it doesn’t work out that way that the information will still be helpful for the city. 

Hoel then reported to the board that the only bid that has been received for the Ironhorse Drainage Project is over their budget in the amount of of $426,139.24. The bidder and other prospective bidders noted unknown conditions of existing facilities as well as unknowns regarding private connections that led to an increase in the project amount. The Special Service Area has already been capped at $325,000 in total costs, so it is likely that the project will end up not being viable. Hoel is going to work with the bidder to see if any “value engineering” opportunities are available, but he fears they will not come to a satisfactory number. He noted that the city has spent a little more than $22,000 to establish the SSA and for engineering that will not be recoverable if the project is rescinded. He will report back to the board at the December meeting following his meeting with the bidder.

Mayor Kleiss ended the meeting wishing all a happy Thanksgiving and encouraging Tuscola residents to mask up and social distance this holiday season. Kleiss said residents should “help the tides here and hope for a vaccine to come quickly. We need to do our part to social distance, use lots of hand sanitizer, and wear a mask when you’re out and can’t social distance.”

The council also:

* Approved the minutes of the October 26 meeting. 

* Approved the October 2020 financial report. 

* Approved the payment of bills in the amount of $837,769.94. (This total includes the Barton Electric pay request for the lighting at Ervin Park in the amount of $398,434.60.)

* Approved the Salvation Army Bell Ringing for the weekends beginning November 28 through December 19 on Main and Sale Streets from 9 to 12 p.m. and at Sav-Mor Pharmacy on December 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

* Discussed the property tax levy amount of 4.5 percent. The final ordinance of the levy will be approved at the December meeting. 

* Adjourned at 7:55 p.m. until the December 14 meeting at 7:30 p.m.

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