City unburdens Historical Society from most of $63,000 assessment

The Mille Lacs County Historical Society (MLCHS) can be unburdened by an approximately $63,000 assessment in 10 years through a deal approved last week with the city of Princeton.

The assessment is from a street improvement, drainage and utility project about three years ago, in an area adjacent to the Historical Society’s depot museum, and to the Princeton Public Utilities property.

MLCHS members have repeatedly stated that the group does not have the funds to pay off the assessment which would have come due in about 15 years. Since 2008, the group had been making annual payments of nearly $4,000 toward 10 percent of the assessment.

When the city handed out assessments for the street, drainage and utility project, it helped the MLCHS by deferring payment of 90 percent of the assessment principal. But that still left a large amount of principal to pay off in the 15th year.

The agreement the council approved last Thursday states that the deferral of $57,446.04 in assessment is revoked. But it also states that the city will donate money to the MLCHS to pay a portion of the annual principal and interest installment due on the assessment.

That means that if all the terms are followed, the debt will be repaid in 10 years.

“It’s the best deal we can get,” said Historical Society President Penny Quast after last Thursday’s City Council meeting.

The city was able to pay toward most of the Historical Society’s assessment by using some surplus money left over from a tax increment finance housing project along a former railroad track right of way. The city council did attach conditions to ensure that if the MLCHS should sell or dispose of its property or default on its payments, the agreement would no longer be in effect.