Gudajtes store purchase spawns controversy
Minto moves ahead with $40,000 purchase
Controversy continues to swirl around the Minto City Council’s recent decision to purchase the Gudajtes Store on the corner of Highway 81 and Harvey Avenue and have it demolished.
At a special meeting of the Minto City Council held Feb. 13, the council approved a motion via a 2-1 vote to purchase the building from Gudajtes Properties LLC for $40,000 and proceed with the demolition of the building.
To pay for the purchase, the city is using existing money in the economic development fund. The fund is supported by city sales taxes and is earmarked for infrastructure, property and economic development purposes.
In a letter sent to Minto residents dated March 1, 2013, Minto mayor Lane Kelley wrote:
“The decision was made to purchase the Gudajtes store property for the betterment of the city. The council decided this property would be more useful to our community if it was demolished and cleaned up to further business and growth.
I would personally like to clear up any misinformation concerning this project. A Community Development Fund was established with sales tax revenue by a vote of the citizens in 2006. The city is using these funds for this project. The project will in no way affect property taxes or utility fees.”
At the regular monthly meeting of the Minto City Council held Monday March 4, the council continued on with its plans to demolish the store when it accepted a bid from TKC Construction, Altendorf Trucking and Refuse Disposal Service to do the demolition and clean up. The cost of the bid was $9,500. The other bidder for the project was Dub Construction of Manvel.
The motion to accept the bid was made by council member Craig Nice and seconded by Jim Lobsinger and carried.
Several residents of the city showed up at the March 4, meeting to express their concerns about the purchase of the building by the City.
Earlier in the day, Minto resident Melvin Tibert presented a referral petition to Minto City Auditor Tamara J. Ulland.
The petition called for the Minto City Council to reverse its decision to purchase the Gudajtes building and stop the $40,000 payment to Gudajtes Properties LLC.
The petition contained 53 signatures. According to Tibert, the signatures were collected by Mark Tibert and Felix Rudnik.
Also according to Tibert, Ulland said she couldn’t accept the petition and it wasn’t presented to the council.
In a letter sent to Tibert dated March 8, Ulland said, under advisement from City Attorney Nicholas B. Hall, the petition would not be accepted.
The letter stated:
“The City Attorney advises that the decision to purchase the Gudajtes Store property was an executive decision by the council in the form of a motion. It did not require an ordinance and only ordinances are referable under state law or the City of Minto’s Home Rule Charter.”
Another point of concern by some residents involved the cost of potential asbestos cleanup in the Gudajtes building.
Ulland said a state inspector recently inspected the building. She said she was informed Tuesday that floor tiles on the main floor contained a type of asbestos that was not regulated and no special cleanup would be necessary.
The next regular meeting of the Minto City Council is scheduled for Monday, April 1, at 7 p.m., at the Minto City offices.