City Administrator Joe Hoffman gave the annual budget/tax levy presentation at the Preston City Council’s December 6 meeting.
The total levy for 2022 is to be $1,080,696, an increase of $46,273 over 2021 or 4.47%. Half of the city’s revenues will come from the tax levy in 2022. Hoffman compared that to 2004, which was the first year he served as administrator. In 2004 only 42% of the city’s revenues came from the tax levy. State aid comprised 42% of the city’s revenue in 2004 and now only contributes 23% of the city’s revenue. Hoffman noted Preston receives about $15,000 more in state aid now than in 2004, which is failing to keep up with inflation over the years.
Last year many Preston property owners saw their property market values increase, which resulted in significantly higher property taxes. Hoffman said he has had no calls this year complaining about projected property tax increases for 2022.
Hoffman reported that Minnesota has collected $744 million more than projected so far for the 2022 fiscal year, which began July 1. This is over 10% more than projected in February.
The city council will adopt the final levy for 2022 at their December 20 meeting. There was no comment from the public after the levy presentation.
Other business in brief
•Ambulance director Ryan Throckmorton recommended rate changes for 2022. The last rate increase was in 2020. Throckmorton requested a $50 increase for non-transports, $100 increase for Basic Life Support transports, and a $300 increase for Advanced Life Support calls due to an increase for intercept charges by Mayo Clinic. Mileage is to be increased from $14 to $20. The increases were approved as presented and as recommended by staff.
•Hoffman announced that there had been three applications for 2021 street project assessment hardship deferrals. Guidance for approving this kind of assessment payment hardship deferral was passed in 2004. Two of the applications were approved, as they were in line with the requirements. One application did not meet the requirements and was not granted a deferral. Hoffman, Deputy Clerk Sheila Marzolf, and Mayor Kurt Reicks had met to review each of the deferral applications.
•The seventh payment request from Alcon Excavating, Inc. in the amount of $265,273.75 for the 2021 Street and Utility Improvements was approved. City Engineer Brett Grabau noted that over $2.7 million will have been paid with this payment or nearly 90% of the total contract amount of $3.162 million. Five percent has been retained. The final finishing work will be completed in the spring.
•Jim Bakken, Public Works, explained the city’s packer/roller that is used for patching potholes was purchased used 16 years ago. The engine has failed. The council approved the purchase of a slightly used 2021 unit for $16,649. Funds will come out of the street equipment fund.
•Molly Kelly and Chad Grabau were hired as volunteer EMTs and Zachary Fellows was hired as a casual EMT for the weekend pool.
•A new construction housing incentive was approved for Dan and Jenna Root (Overlook Dr.) as recommended by the EDA. This will be the first home to be built in Blue Jay Ridge.
•Ordinance 292 Amending the Zoning Map was approved to amend the zoning map to reflect the rezoning of 202 Park St. SE (Jeff Bennett) from R-2 to R-3, as approved by the city council at the November 1 meeting.
The next city council meeting will be held on December 20.