Commission to consider new lease of city-owned property

The City Commission will consider during Tuesday’s meeting a new lease for 316 acres of city-owned property about 3.5 miles north of the Manchester exit for three years.

Staff is recommending approval of the lease and leasing city property requires a four-fifths affirmative vote by the commission.

The city has owned the land since 1991 as a potential landfill site. The city currently uses the High Plains Landfill leased by Montana Waste Systems and the city’s contract for that expires in 2025.

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In 1991, the city looked at about 50 properties and ultimately purchased two parcels north of Manchester for $149,708 as a potential future landfill site.

The parcels were approved for the Conservation Reserve Program in 1993 and annual rental payments received through that program totaled $122,901, according to the city.

The CRP program expired in 2011 for government properties so the city began considering a lease to the private sector.

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Arrow Kay Farms leased the property for the last five years but made the decision not to renew the lease.

Continuing to lease the property keeps the city’s option open and allows the sanitation division to have leverage in future disposal contract negotiations with Montana Waste Systems, according to the staff report. A lease also continued to generate revenue for the sanitation division.

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Earlier this year, the city advertised for the lease on the city website, in the newspaper and mailed information to 21 prospective bidders.

One bidder responded.

Ronald Laubach, a local farmer in Power, proposed to lease the land for $7,000 per year or $21,000 over the term of the three-year lease, which has an option for renewal.

The annual lease payment will go into the Sanitation Fund and would add additional funding for that division, according to the staff report.

Under the agreement, Laubach would be responsible for improvements, repairs, utilities and maintenance.

The commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed lease during Tuesday’s meeting and any decision to sell, trade or lease city-owned property must be approved by a four-fifths vote.