FEMA estimates don't add up
At the Moose Lake City Council meeting on Wednesday, March 13, Tom Paull, Moose Lake Police Department Flood Manager, reported that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates for the city's flood damage is $500,000 less than Moose Lake losses.
In review of sites significantly damaged by the flood, Paull described significant differences. One example is that FEMA estimates the losses at the campground to be $34,000. The estimates for the electrical repairs come to approximately $180,000. It appears that FEMA estimates of the scope of work will need to be readdressed. No work can be started until there is agreement on the realistic scope of service between the city and FEMA.
The Moosehead Lake fishing pier is being considered a total loss by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The pier will be replaced with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance. Like the old pier, the new one will meet handicap accessible standards.
The council readdressed the issue of DNR Mitigation Funds available to the five homeowners who applied for funds. The council reversed their previous decision and will support mitigations funds for both the three homesteaded properties and two properties that are not homesteaded. The loss of these homes from the tax rolls represents about $3,348 in tax income. Mayor Ted Shaw informed the council, according to the county appraiser, there are 21 properties in Moose Lake that have suffered serious flood damage and are currently unoccupied. They either did not qualify for DNR Mitigation Funds or the owners did not apply for it. Mayor Shaw is concerned they may cease to be inhabited. If this happens, this would amount to a serious loss of tax income for the city.
The search for a new city administrator is in process. There were 57 applications for the position. The council members have narrowed the number to five finalists who seem most suitable for the city of Moose Lake. The interviews for the five candidates will be held on March 23 beginning at 9 a.m. in the Council Chambers. March 25 has been selected as an alternate and for city discussion if needed. These are public meetings. At the end of the interviews the council will determine if second interviews are needed. If so, they will be held on April 3 at 5 p.m.
A Moose Lake 2.0 Committee is being formed to study city needs which must be addressed. The committee will have representatives from various groups: politicians, governmental employees, business, education, boards and commissions, and healthcare/social service/religion. Areas to be assessed and addressed are: business development, housing development, city infrastructure upgrades, building a new k–12 school, community/activities development, upgrading of emergency services, and possible annexing part, or all, of Moose Lake Township. Mayor Ted Shaw will contact Randy Lasky to discuss his possible role as facilitator of this committee.
Mayor Shaw reported that the local option sales tax request was accepted by the Legislative Committee in St. Paul. He expressed that it has a good chance of passing at the Legislature.
The Greater Minnesota Coalition of Small Cities, chaired by Mayor Ahlgren of Cloquet, is taking Moose Lake’s property tax situation to the Minnesota Legislature — 75 percent of Moose Lake property is non-taxable due to the schools, churches and two state facilities within the city. The coalition is supporting a change to the LGA formula in the hope to obtain funding from the state for the city.
The Moose Lake Mafia Roller Derby will be held on April 6 at Riverside Arena. The council has approved the sale of alcoholic beverages at the event. The Moose Lake Municipal Liquor Store will provide the servers and beverages.
The next regular meeting of the Moose Lake City Council will be held on Wednesday, April 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.