The Milbank City Council met during their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, August 9. in the Milbank Visitor Center.
During the public input session, Tom Schuneman and Nathan Bass, two of the seven board members of the Whetstone Creek Golf Course, addressed the council. Bass and Schuneman presented an update on the golf course since the non-profit group (501C4) took over the business in 2019 from Randy Patnoe.
According to Schuneman, Milbank could be considered an oddity as most golf courses in cities the size of Milbank are publicly owned. He cited courses in Ortonville, Webster, Clear Lake , Groton, Sisseton, Graceville, and Watertown as some of the region’s city-owned courses.
Schuneman summarized the golf course’s $400,000 operating budget, which he said is growing each year due to increased costs and inflation. He stated the payroll is about $150,000, which includes three full-time seasonal employees and about 10 high school or college seasonal employees. Between $75,000 and $100,000, he said, is spent locally on utilities, repairs, fuel, insurance, bookkeeping services, real estate taxes, and supplies. He said the board is able to operate the facility, but is seeking assistance at the city or county level for capital improvements.
Schuneman emphasized that the course adds about $225,000 to $250,000 to the local economy and said it is an asset because it offers a sport suitable for families and people of all ages. He also highlighted the course as a venue for businesses and organizations to hold local events and tournaments to bring people and tourist dollars to Milbank.
Schuneman said the course is also important to the area as the season memberships are not all from Milbank. They also sell memberships to people from Summit, Revillo, Ortonville, Corona, Big Stone City, and summer residents who live at the lake.
Bass said the board is looking down the road for the next two to five years to create a plan. He noted the maintenance shed is leaking, bridges need to be redone, and old equipment needs to be replaced. He said the last two years they spent money on repairs and their goal is to get to the point where they can purchase newer equipment on a schedule.
He said the golf course’s board members believe they need close to $1 million overall but are requesting $25,000 per year from the City of Milbank. Bass said the board continues its fundraising efforts and representatives also attended the Grant County Commissioners meeting on August 3 to elicit their support.
Mayor Pat Raffety said he preferred to make a determination on the request after the council members had time to obtain input from their constituents. He also stated the City’s budget has been set for 2022, and no money was earmarked for the golf course.
In other business, the council approved Resolution 8-9-21 — the adoption of the tax increment funding (TIF) plan for HME/SLH Management. HME/SLH Management plans to demolish the Koch School building and construct a senior living complex on that property. The council approved the TIF plan at the June 14 council meeting, but it was formalized in a resolution.
The council moved to pay the City’s bills in the amount of $559,127.55.
The council approved the first reading of Ordinance 837 — the 2022 appropriations budget.
To address the impending cannabis ordinance, the council scheduled a special meeting in conjunction with the Milbank Planning & Zoning Commission on Monday, August 23, at 6 p.m. at The Milbank Visitor Center. The joint meeting is to discuss the zoning and licensing of cannabis-related businesses in Milbank. The meeting is open to the public.
Items approved on the Consent Agenda included:
1. Facility rental agreement with Core Kinetics Dance Studio at $625/mo for nine months. .
2. Facility rental agreement with the Milbank Area Lions Swim Team for 2021-2022 at $13/hr.
3. Change Nicole Berg from a full-time employee to a ¾ -time employee, retroactively effective August 7, 2021.
4. Application for a Hauling Recyclable Materials License: Robert Sackreiter, Sackreiter Pallet Recycling. Jason Sackreiter, Valley Rental & Recycling, LLC. Waste Management.
5. Application for a Garbage Hauler’s License: Jason Sackreiter Investments LLC, Whetstone Sanitation. Waste Management.
6. Purchase of a jet rodder from T.A .Lauristsen Septic & Drain Inc., at $47,000 (1996 Ford CC Con.)
7. The appointment of Mindy Rogers to the ad hoc Bicycle Pedestrian Trails Committee.
Reports were given for water, rubble, streets, police, wastewater, planning & zoning, parks and cemetery, Unity Health & Fitness, fire, and Lake Farley.
The next regular meeting of the Milbank City Council will be held on Monday, September 13, at 7 p.m. in the Milbank Visitor Center.