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City to rework RFC loan

The City of Morris will change its loan agreement with the Regional Fitness Center, which is experiencing financial troubles.

The city's Economic Development Authority -- which is essentially the City Council -- approved the RFC's request Tuesday, and the council followed suit after the EDA meeting was adjourned.

The agreement will extend the city loan five years to 2022 and will allow the RFC to make monthly payments from September to May. Under the original agreement, the RFC made two payments per year totalling $30,863, which hampered cash flow, said RFC Director Wayne Morford.

City Attorney Charles Glasrud and city Finance Director Gene Krosschell will finalize an amendment to the loan. The loan for $400,000 was issued in 2002 at 2 percent interest. The RFC has not missed payments since then and the current principal balance is about $228,000.

Morford told the council that the RFC lost about $50,000 the last fiscal year, and the economic downturn is primarily responsible for a drop in memberships. As such, the facility has had to make budget cuts, including hours of operation.

"(The loan amendment) will help balance the budget and avoid cuts," Morford said. "I think this will benefit the overall community."

In other city business:

* The city and the University of Minnesota, Morris will use a forestry grant to conduct a survey of all city trees to prepare for the onset of Emerald Ash Bore. The city also will make plans to replace trees that are lost to the bore. City Engineer Jay Fier, who also is a Park Board member, said when EAB hits, the city can expect to lose 50 percent of its ash trees. The bore is slow to enter an area, but that it kills 50 percent of the trees in the first year, Fier said. It's especially pertinent in Pomme de Terre Park, where 90 percent of the trees are ash.

* During the brief EDA meeting Tuesday, Matt Carrington was reelected as EDA president and Mayor Sheldon Giese was reelected vice president.

* The city adopted standing rules for 2010 and reappointed community members to committees and boards.

HRA Board: Carol Wilcox, Chuck Grussing; Library Board: Steve Dudding, Pam Solvie; Human Rights Commission: Ida Stewart, Christine Gibson, Becki Jordan; Park Board: Carol Wilcox, Jim McRoberts; Community Education: Karen Arnold; Tree Board: Sally Finzel, Dennis Lindor, Dave Poppe; Police Civil Service Commission: Carl Benson.

City Council members were named to ex officio positions: Twig Webster, Park Board and Chamber of Commerce; Matt Carrington, RFC Board and Community Education; Jeff Miller, Planning Commission and Human Rights Commission; Bill Storck, Airport Commission and Rental Housing Commission; Sheldon Giese, Stevens County Economic Improvement Commission, Morris Area Tourism Board, WCI.

* The City of Morris Board of Review meeting is 5 p.m., April 8. The review is for residents who have questions or challenges to their property tax assessments.