With no development agreement in hand, Wadena City Council members quickly moved to postpone decisions on four major steps needed to continue the city and hospital development partnership concerning a new hospital.
First the council opened up the second and final reading of the ordinance annexing land for Tri-County Hospital’s new construction project. The first step involved opening a public hearing and one resident from Compton Township spoke in opposition to the project under reimbursement reasoning.
David Mertens, a Compton Township supervisor, said the way the annexation is presented, he had to object.
“We welcome a new hospital, we just don’t welcome it in Compton Township under the current proposal to us. We would welcome if we were fairly compensated, we just don;t feel we are, “ Mertens said.
Mertens said as is, the township would have to raise their tax levy as it puts a burden on the township. Mertens said the township was given a proposal for two years worth of taxes as compensation, about $1,000.
“It’s almost an insult,” Mertens said.
Instead he felt since it’s intended to be a 100-year hospital, the township should be compensated for 100 years of lost taxes, equal to about $50,000.
“In the scheme of their project, it’s not a lot,” Mertens said. “For us, a small township with limited resources, that is a lot.”
There being no other public present to speak to the matter, Mayor George Deiss closed the hearing and opened up discussion on the annexation decision. City Administrator Janette Bower shared that at that time, Tri-County Hospital had not yet entered into the development agreement on the city utility extension. The hospital would like more time to do more research on the matter. With no decision on that, council members were given the opportunity to approve, postpone or deny. Council members unanimously postponed the decision and have the vote brought to the next regular meeting.
Following that, the council went through the remaining hearings and discussions with the same choice, postponing action on the developers agreement for utility extension, postponing action on the rezoning of the proposed property to commercial, and postponement of a conditional use permit to construct the new hospital. No further public input was heard in those remaining public hearings.