City Engineer Brett Grabau led the presentation at the assessment hearing for Preston’s 2021 Street and Utility Improvements. Over 20 residents attended the November 15 public hearing held at the Emergency Services Building.
Grabau explained a priority list was produced with the development of the 2012 pavement management plan and the concurrent investigation of utilities. Using this information the scope of the 2014 project and later the 2021 project was decided. In 2020 nine areas were considered for the 2021 project. These areas were broken down to that which was financially feasible to portions of four areas: Valley St. area, Five Points, Chatfield Ave, and Park Lane.
The project was approved in July 2020 after a public hearing and work started in the spring of 2021. The final lift and other finishing work will be done in 2022. Grabau concluded his remarks, saying there is now a firm understanding of the actual project cost. One hundred and twelve parcels fell within this project.
The city’s assessment policy was approved in 2007. Mayor Kurt Reicks commented that the assessment policy has been followed since 2007 and thinks it is fair and equitable.
About 40% of the street reconstruction costs, up to a certain width and depth of a roadway, are assessed to property owners. Eighty percent of the sanitary sewer service reconstruction is assessed to the property owner. The proposed assessments to property owners are approximately 23.56% of the improvement costs. The total project cost is almost $3.8 million. The assessed portion is $886,203. The city’s portion is almost $2.9 million. Property owners will pay just over $91 per assessable foot and $1,204 for a sanitary sewer reconstruction. The city pays 100% of the storm sewer, water main, and sanitary sewer project costs.
Property owners over 65 can apply to defer the assessment (until the property is sold) if a hardship can be shown. Assessments can be paid in full or in part before November 30 with no interest. A property owner can do nothing now; then the assessment may be paid over 15 years in installments along with property taxes. An interest rate of 2.45% per annum will be charged. The property owner may at any time pay off the remaining unpaid amount.
Grabau answered a number of questions, ranging from what may be done about damaged trees, why there are assessments on undeveloped lots, to concerns about drainage and possible erosion. A resolution adopting the assessment roll for the 2021 Street and Utility project was unanimously approved.
Other business in brief
•At the November 1 meeting of the city council the council voted to deny all variances requested by Andy Bunge. This day a motion was made and approved to reconsider the denial of variance request number one: to allow a depth of 118 feet, rather than the required 120 foot depth of the lot. The motion to reconsider the denial of that variance was approved. A motion was then approved to allow the two-foot variance (120 feet to 118 feet).
Bunge also requested the split of a lot into three lots. One lot is to be 102 feet across and 120 feet deep (Hokenson duplex), and the other two are to be 118 feet by 60 feet (oriented east to west due to flood plain restrictions). Bunge plans to build a small residence with an attached apartment on each of the two smaller lots. The two lots will be accessed by a private driveway. The lot split was approved as requested (three lots). Councilmen Robert Maust and David Collett voted no.
•The finalization of a MiBroadband Ground Lease at the North Substation was approved. The 50-year lease will be at no cost for MiBroadband. The council had committed last year a small area near the north substation for an equipment shelter, when an application was prepared for a State of Minnesota broadband grant. The no-cost lease will serve as the city’s match in this investment project to bring fiber optic service to the industrial park and parts of rural Preston.
•The city has contributed $1,000 to the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation in each of the last two years. The council approved a motion to contribute $1,000 in 2021. This is money well spent as SMIF is very good for the community.
•The city council next meets on December 6, which will include the Truth in Taxation hearing.