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Gilman hopes to turn tax deed property into housing

With a chance to acquire more land for the village, as well as provide housing to a future family, the Gilman Village Board jumped to purchase two parcels at their regular meeting Nov. 13. After notice a that Taylor County was planning to sell tax-deed land within Gilman, it was discovered the village could have first dibs, if they wanted it, otherwise the land would be put up for sale on public auction.

One property is located on Gilman Street, between the funeral home and another property, with a minimum bid of $1,000 and a $30 filing fee. According to village president Jane DeStaercke, the current building on the property will likely be condemned.

With that as the case, through a federal program administered through the county housing authority, with grant funding and Community Development Block Grant funds contributed by the village, a new house would be constructed for $125,000. The property would then be eligible to rent to someone with low to moderate income, offered for a term of five years.

“The rent that the people would pay there, would go toward paying back this grant money,” said DeStaercke.

Everything, including tear down of the current building, would be handled by the county and after five years the new house could be rented to anyone, regardless of income, or sold.

“I recommend it, it’s a good deal for the village,” said DeStaercke. “This is going to be an affordable house for someone and we’re going to have a $20,000 contribution, and that’s about it.”

DeStaercke said even if the village was denied approval for the grant funding, she is confident the village could then sell the land to someone for $1,000, as the village is not allowed to profit from the property. However, after talking with the housing authority, DeStaercke says they are confident the project will receive funding.

“This is another house for the village,” said DeStaercke. “We’re lacking in housing, especially for renting. This way, it will all be taken care of and I’m sure the neighbors will be pleased.”

“We need to be progressive as a village,” agreed village trustee Eileen Grunseth.

The other members concurred and approved bidding on the property, as well as the second parcel, for $1, with a $30 filing fee. The land, which is unbuildable, was formerly owned by Northwestern Lumber Company, but the county has been unable to find an address for the previous owners.

“We will now be the proud possessors of an unusable piece of land, right by the park,” said DeStaercke.

After a budget hearing prior to the regular meeting, members also passed Resolution 2019-10 to appropriate funds for the operation of the village, with a levy of $186,382, while the budget revenues and expenses are set at $583,227.

“So, there’s a change of 48% (lower),” said clerk Candice Grunseth, “because of course, we don’t have $516,000 budgeted for library expense.”

DeStaercke also reported that village officials have selected Joe Schmitt for the snowplow driver position, when the spot becomes available. Schmitt holds a CDL, which is required for the village job.

Trustee and library board representative Bob Mechelke had hiring news of his own, reporting that interviews were set up to replace the current librarian/ administrator.

“At our next meeting, we should have a new librarian… if everything goes right,” said Mechelke.

Adding her own bit of news for the library, DeStaercke said there has been a misunderstanding in regard to people stepping down from the library board.

“The library board is not changing as of the present time,” she said. “No one has resigned.”

DeStaercke also reported on an issue with a mobile home that has plagued the village since June. Manager of the trailer, Laverne Birch, had since June to comply with standards set down by the village and after she met with the board, explaining the lack of progress, was given until Oct. 1 to complete the work.

When the October deadline rolled around, the work was still not done, so an eviction notice was sent, giving her 30 days to comply. Birch addressed the matter at the last board meeting, asking members to rescind the eviction.

Although the village could not do that, on recommendation of their attorney, they agreed to deliver fill dirt to help with the process.

“I’ve been trying to monitor the progress on the mobile home that was in question and it appears that they have pretty much done everything that we requested of them, up to this point,” said DeStaercke. “So, I’m recommending that we don’t pursue the eviction notice.”

Gilman police chief Tom Tallier agreed, and said the exposed Tyvek is either gone or covered and that skirting is up around the bottom of the mobile home, except for one end where there is still work being done.

Trustee Greg Steinbach asked what the village can do about another mobile home nearby, that looks like there is “junk” piled around it. Tallier said there is not much he can do, as the “junk” are things in the yard that there is no storage for, such as a lawn mower, firewood, and an outdoor table and chairs.

“There is one car there that I would like to see removed, other than that, I don’t think you’re going to be able to touch that one so much,” said Tallier.

DeStaercke said she thinks the village needs to consider “sprucing up” the mobile home court.

“As a board, we have to do a little something…to spend a little money landscaping it,” said DeStaercke. “We’ve got a mission there in the future.”

Tallier also informed the board that his police squad basically had its front end go out, but luckily for him, the county lent him the use of one of their squads. The repairs to the village vehicle fell under a no deductible, full warranty, with only 42,000 miles on the car.

“It was an odd situation,” said Tallier.

In case anyone noticed the much brighter area, director of public works Rick Johnson says he had another street light put in on Third Avenue, south of the bank, after he had complaints it was too dark in that area when walking home.

An Xcel Energy repairman happened to be in town, so Johnson mentioned the matter to him and the light was installed soon after as part of Xcel’s service.

“He did a nice job,” said Johnson. “It’s a good looking light.”