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Readers’ Views

This is all common sense

To the Editor:

The Sentinel printed several letters to the editor in the last few days, some written by former residents now attending college, who are in support of the proposed community center. They have fond memories of growing up in Fairmont and are deciding whether they want to return. Fairmont is a wonderful city with its lakes, trails, organizations, and churches. The city leaders need to focus on new businesses to bring higher paying jobs and to create more housing. This will be a reason for people to return and raise their families. Fairmont also has an excellent school system. The vocational addition, approved by the taxpayers, trains young people in blue-collar trades. Many businesses in Fairmont and Martin County need this type of worker to fill open jobs in the vocational field.

It is important that the taxpayers know, this city has approximately 10,000 residents and it is committed to over 100 million dollars in present and future capital projects. These include:

1. Water filtration plant. There is approximately 20 years left on a 28 million dollar bond due in 2041.

2. Wastewater treatment plant. There is a current 1.6 million dollar note due in 2024. Replacement costs may be done in phases, with phase 1 at approximately 20 million dollars, phase 2 at 18 million dollars and possible 3rd phase at 15 million dollars.

3. Public works facility. Completed in 2022 with an estimated cost over 15 years of approximately 10 million dollars.

4. County courthouse dome restoration and other repairs estimated at approximately 2.3 million dollars. The county and city will split this cost.

5. The new jail. Estimated cost of 21 million dollars. The courthouse and the jail are the county’s obligation. Taxpayers would see one half of this amount as city and one half as county on their tax statements over a period of years.

6. Road infrastructure. Because parts of this system are 60 years old, cost estimates are roughly 440 million dollars. This is big and will have to be done over a number of years, but must be done.

7. The City Engineer stated at the November 14 council meeting that the city electrical system needs improvements per their service agreement. This cost estimate is approximately 15 million dollars over a ten-year period.

8. Lime Pit. 2.7 million dollar loan due in 2042.

These numbers are estimates and not exact, but in a range that should be of concern to most taxpayers. The numbers are public information and everyone has access to them.

There are still many unanswered questions regarding this proposed new community center. If you listened to or watched the work session held on Wednesday, November 9, no one in the audience was allowed to ask questions. This keeps citizens in the dark regarding these questions.

Current city administrators and city council members are not responsible for people leaving or not returning to Fairmont and must not be blamed for it. This has been happening over the last 25 years. Previous city leaders must take responsibility as well. New businesses were not wanted because some in the community did not want the competition. Now we are seeing the repercussions of these decisions.

Fairmont is not the only small town losing its population. New Ulm, Albert Lea, Marshall, and other cities that have colleges, businesses, and manufacturing are still losing residents to larger cities. Mankato is growing. What is the answer?

Do you really think that this city will prosper by building a 46 million dollar or 24 million dollar community center, when there are very few higher paying jobs, and the city is committed to over 100 million dollars in obligations in the coming years? Why does this center need to be in brand new building? Taxpayers will be on the hook for this. We are forgetting that there are already three fitness centers in Fairmont. City council members need to listen to their constituents and vote NO on this community center. The city council then needs to be challenged to rebuild Fairmont, fill the empty buildings with new businesses so more people will stay in Fairmont. Manufacturing is most important. This all is “simple common sense.”

Call your city council member and tell them your thoughts.

Ward 1 – Bruce Peters

Ward 2 – Brittney Kawecki

Ward 3- Randy Lubenow

Ward 4 – Wayne Hasek

Member at large – Michelle Miller

Darlene Lutz

Fairmont

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