City Council briefed on Tactacam loan

Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

On April 10, the Caledonia City Council learned that a long-term effort to establish a growing company in town has cleared another hurdle.

“We closed on the loan today with Tactacam,” city administrator Adam Swann told the council. “All the documents were signed, they are full speed ahead on renovating the former Kwik Trip property, and they’re getting ready in the next few days to set the footings for the expansion.

“They say they’ll be moving into the renovated portion probably in the next week or two.”

The City of Caledonia has now provided an $80,000 forgivable loan to the company with a ten-year time frame, Swann stated. But in order for each year’s payment to be written off, yearly employment thresholds must be met.

The agreement lists JBB Real Estate, LLC as “borrower” and Tactacam, LLC as “developer” in the arrangement. Swann later confirmed that “JBB Real Estate, LLC owns the property where Kwik Trip used to be located and is leasing the property to Tactacam.

“Under the loan agreement, yearly loan payments will be forgiven if Tactacam is employing 10 full-time people and paying wages of at least $12 per hour,” he added. Failure to meet the criteria would result in yearly payments of $8,929 being due.

The former Kwik Trip building is located at 110 N. Sunset Blvd, near junction of Main St. and Highway 44/76.

In 2016, the city granted an interim use permit for the venture, which allows office space, light industrial machining, warehouse space, and a spot for customers to shoot bows on the property. During the IUP public hearing, the project was described as renovating 1,800 feet of existing space, and building a 40 x 80 foot addition. Tactacam specializes in outdoor gear for hunters, in particular cameras that can be attached to bows and firearms, allowing outdoor enthusiasts to record what happens in the field.

2016 audit report delivered

Councilmembers also reviewed the city’s 2016 audit with Thomas Wente of Smith Schafer & Associates. The city received a “clean” opinion from the independent firm.

At the end of 2016, the City of Caledonia’s general fund stood at $1,070,007, which was 56% of the year’s general fund expenditures. Local government aid stood at $956,988, while general property taxes totaled $812,317. That property tax bill represents 31% of total governmental revenues. Outstanding governmental debt stood at $1,886,793, with enterprise fund-related debt of $1,918,083. “All bond payments were made on a timely basis,” Wente reported, and “water, sewer, and light funds are generating sufficient cash flow to service outstanding bonds and maintain cash reserves.” The city-owned liquor store showed a profit of $1,947, and had a cash balance of $116,035.

PERA (Public Employees Retirement Association of Minnesota) computations have recently seen significant changes, Wente noted. Because of that, the city posted a substantial amount (in total) of underfunding ($2,428,600)  for its governmental and enterprise areas, and $167,650 in over-funding for fire relief.    

To cover the projected need, “Future pension contributions by employees and by the city will probably be incrementally increased over time,” Wente explained. “They’re not going to come back and say, ‘Everybody lump-sum that in.’ Cities couldn’t handle that sort of payment, and no one is setting this money aside in any attempt to do that.”

Wente gave city staff high marks for their professionalism and assistance during the audit process, including city accountant Stephanie Mann and Swann.

Ordinance update tabled

The council discussed, but did not approve the repeal and replacement of the ordinance which regulates the use of recreational motorized vehicles within the city.

Members struck one of the prohibitions, which – if applied literally – would basically eliminate the use of all such vehicles “on public, semi-private or private property located within 300 feet of residences, nursing homes, schools and similar structures without explicit permission from the owner or authority having jurisdiction.”

The ordinance proposal was sent back to city staff, including law enforcement. Council members asked staff to look into several items such as the use of lights and/or flags for increased visibility. Under the proposal, yearly permits to operate recreational vehicles on local streets would cost $25.

Consent agenda vote:

A single vote did approve several items on the consent agenda. Those included recognizing the March 24 resignation of part-time Caledonia police officer Talman Wiles, the closure of several city streets on Founder’s Day weekend (June 17-18) from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m., and approval for Caledonia Haulers to construct a 24’ x 74’ canopy over a scale located at 420 W. Lincoln St.