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Council faces decision as Armory bids come in high

By Reed Anfinson

As bids for the restoration of the Benson Armory continue to come in much higher than the available budget for making them, the Benson City Council faces difficult decisions.

Options for actions and funding were discussed during a special council meeting last Tuesday at 7 a.m. in the council chambers.

At stake in the discussions is the future of the Armory building and the city’s reputation with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED.)

DEED has been a significant partner of the city in grants for housing and business upgrades for decades.

Benson’s National Guard Armory was constructed in 1927 and turned over to the City of Benson in 1993. For the most part, it has maintained the building updating its exterior and roof as needed. Its gymnasium provides a 7,000-square-foot area for community events.

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Are there other city funds for Armory project?

With bids for renovation of the Benson Armory coming in $600,000 over the funds budget for the project and some key components left out, the Benson Council City Council would like to know what other sources of funding might be available.

The city has economic development funds, electric utility reserves, general fund reserves, and Xcel Energy economic development funds.

Between 2018 and 2021, the City of Benson received $20 million in payments from Xcel Energy in compensation for the closure of the Benson Power electric plant. The Xcel payments, approved by the Minnesota Legislature, were explicitly intended to support economic development efforts. 

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