By Randy Carlsen
Dodge County Board of Commissioners met in closed session Tuesday and agreed to offer the Dodge County Ice Arena to the city of Kasson. Following the regular Kasson City Council meeting Wednesday evening they too went into closed session and determined they wanted to continue the joint venture operation of the arena with Dodge County.
City administrator Randy Lenth issued a statement saying, "The City of Kasson believes the current management agreement with Dodge County benefits the entire area and recognizes the hard work and dedication of the many individuals and businesses that constructed the facility. We look forward to a continued partnership with Dodge County to promote and enhance the Dodge County Ice Arena."
Lenth said the arena is as close to breaking even as they have ever been. In 2013 the arena lost only $3,000. However, the facility is in need of a new roof and new cooling system. Due to the ban on Freon R-22, ice arenas statewide will have to replace/update the flooring cooling system by 2020.
Tim Tjosaas served as mayor and now sits on the other side of the fence as county commissioner. He said there were general discussions of how best to move forward when the ice arena committee of two commissioners and two council members met. He said the issue has always been brought up by the county.
In exchange for turning over the arena to the city the council was asking for free utilities (water, sewer and electricity) for the next 10 years at the fairgrounds. This would include all buildings on the grounds owned by the county.
The original partners of the arena were Kasson, Mantorville, Dodge Center and Dodge County. The school districts were also partners, but did not have a financial stake in the arena. Dodge Center and Mantorville dropped out and January 1, 2010 Kasson and Dodge County became co-owners of the arena. What triggered construction of the arena was a $600,000 Mighty Ducks grant the Dodge County Youth Hockey Association was awarded.
In other matters:
• The city granted a conditional use permit for Oppidan to install a digital sign near Mantorville Avenue for the Shopko Home Store and for the drive-up window for the pharmacy. A timer will be installed so the lighted sign goes off between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The sign will be lighted on both sides.
• The council had a brief discussion on water bills and how to deal with those residents who have excessive water bills as the result of broken pipes. "There are a few who have legitimate concerns and we are working with them," said the city administrator. Lines running through driveways have been more of a problem than those across lawns. One unoccupied property where a broken water main was discovered had a monthly water bill in excess of $4,000.
• The city was seeking proposals for qualified firms interested in delivering a two megawatt solar photovoltaic generating system on approximately 20 acres of land owned by the city north of the wastewater treatment plant.
The city administrator said the future is with solar since Kasson continues to deal with peak loads in June, July and August. There are also tax credit incentives.
The city has received eight proposals. The electric committee and electric department supervisor Todd Kispert will take the month of April to look over the proposals. Randy Lenth said there was a wide range of responses.
Dodge County and the City of Kasson will continue to operate the Dodge County Ice Arena as co-owners. When the arena was constructed Dodge County, Kasson, Mantorville and Dodge Center partners. January 1, 2010 the city of Kassona nd Dodge County took over ownership. Photo by Randy Carlsen.