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City won't support Wausau request of repayment waiver

Brainerd officials will not support a request from Wausau Paper for the state to waive repayment of benefits the company received.

Wausau Paper officials are asking the Department of Revenue to waive the repayment of two years worth of benefits the company received in regard to the Minnesota Job Opportunity Development Act, or JOBZ Act, for franchise tax, sales and use tax, and job creation credits.

According to a letter from Sherri Lemmer, Wausau senior vice president and CFO, the facility closed, citing an unforeseen change in industry trends.

Part of that process requires the city of Brainerd to weigh in on the request. Ultimately, the decision is up to the Department of Revenue.

If the Department of Revenue does waive Wausau’s repayment, that could mean a loss to Brainerd of about $190,000, said City Administrator Theresa Goble. That amount is the estimated city’s percent of the $433,837 tax.

One of the stipulations for qualifying for the program under the JOBZ Act is that Wausau must be open until Dec. 31, 2015. Wausau was also required to create at least 75 jobs.

Council President Bonnie Cumberland questioned if 75 jobs were created.

The council unanimously approved partnering with the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp. to draft the letter to the state, opposing Wausau’s request.

City council member Dave Pritschet suggested the city also approach area legislators for their support in opposing Wausau’s request.

In other council news:

Declined applying for another round of Safe Routes to School grants through the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The grants would require a 20 percent local match for infrastructure implementation, which set many council members to oppose applying for it. Cumberland suggested the group see how the first Safe Routes to School project works out first, as well as gathering feedback from the residents. The only council member voting in favor of moving forward with application for the grant was Gary Scheeler.

Accepted the termination notice of fire service from the city of East Gull Lake. The council will hold a special meeting in the near future to review the financial consequences of the 2015 assessment to fire service entities.

Approved discussion with downtown property owners on listing downtown on the National Register of Historic Places. Before an application can be submitted for Brainerd to be considered for the register, the downtown must first be evaluated to make sure it meets criteria. Being listed on the register could open up future funding sources for exterior and interior building improvements. Should the downtown be listed on the register, it would not require a property owner to do anything, but they could take advantage of incentives available.

Approved signatures for the 2014 capital projects for the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.

Adopted a resolution of receiving the report for the first round of 2014 street improvement projects and calling for a public hearing for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21. The estimated cost of the four projects is $375,300, of which $159,900 is proposed to be assessed.

Approved the presented plans of 19 rain gardens for the Buffalo Creek Watershed improvements and authorized construction. The project is headed by The Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District. It is funded largely through a grant.

Appointed Eric Pouliot of East Gull Lake to the Green Step City Committee.

Heard that the Brainerd Park Board voted to increase some of the league/team sponsorship fees for the youth programs. Non-competitive team sponsorships will go from $125 to $150. Youth softball will go from $150 to 175. There will be no change for Lil’ Buckaroos or youth baseball. Fees have not changed for 11 years.

Heard the sponsorship rate for the Miracle League is $200 for each league, and participation fees will be $35. The Miracle League is divided into three age groups: Cubs (ages 5-10), Bears (ages 11-19) and Grizzlies (ages 20 and older). There will also be a disabled veterans league.

Designated The Brainerd Dispatch as the official newspaper for the city for 2014.

Designated the following financial institutions as depositories for 2014: Bremer Bank, Wells Fargo, Lakewood Bank, US Bancorp, First National Bank of Deerwood, People’s National Bank, Frandsen Bank and Trust, Riverwood Bank, RBC Wealth Management, 4M Money Market, PMA Financial Network and Morgan Stanley.

Appointed city council member Gary Scheeler as Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission council liaison for a term expiring on Dec. 31, 2014.

Approved a memorandum of understanding with the IAFF union in regard to the fire inspector assignment. Some items include: the fire inspector will work a flexible schedule of 56 hours per week, will be paid at current rate, and will return to previous duties at the end of the inspector assignment.

Approved three union contracts and insurance memorandum on understandings. Adopted wage resolutions for each.

Accepted the resignations of Jan Lambert from the Planning Commission and Kevin Stumpf from the Cable TV Advisory Committee.

Heard a call for applicants, with nearly 20 committee and commission positions available for residents.

Heard that the College Drive Reconstruction project was selected as 2013 Project of the Year by the City Engineers Association of Minnesota.

JESSICA LARSEN, staff writer, may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at