At the September 5 Preston City Council meeting, the council voted to go forward with a development agreement with Andrew Bunge as unanimously recommended by the EDA. Councilman David Collett voted against.
In the North Street Project agreement the city is to sell four unimproved city parcels to Bunge for $1. Bunge agrees to build four housing units, each of at least 950 square feet (two duplexes at minimum) within the next five years, pending the purchase of the McCallison property.
Bunge is to purchase the McCallison home and remove the current structure, so as to improve the property with a duplex. One of the four parcels the city will be agreeing to sell is now owned by Fillmore County. There will be a request that the county provide its parcel to the city to transfer to Bunge, the developer.
Councilman Robert Maust said taxes will come later on property that we are getting nothing out of now.
Street project delayed
As requested, City Engineer Brett Grabau presented a tentative schedule for a Twenty18 street improvement project. He explained it was possible to do in the time frame but extremely tight. The city would have to decide on the size of the project. Possible areas would be north of North St., east of Spring St. and south of Highway 52. City Administrator Joe Hoffman added we might also be thinking east of St. Paul St. Collett said we need to decide what we would do with Center St.
Grabau explained that one and two block sections have been put off that need work that have not made the cut with past projects. Decisions have to be made about the size of the project, what areas of town, and the cost. Mayor Kurt Reicks suggested it may be better to plan a project for 2019. Maust said with a 2018 project there would be no payment in 2018, only interest in 2019. He argued that cost of the work could increase 2-3% if they waited another year.
Councilwoman Holly Zuck stated she did not want to rush into anything. Hoffman said the scope of the project would have to be decided in the next couple of weeks to go forward in 2018. Grabau noted that ideally a feasibility report would be authorized by July, not September.
Hoffman suggested that it may be best to include money in the budget for a future street project now, so as not to have a huge increase in 2020. He will bring options to the next meeting.
It was the consensus of the council to wait until some of these questions can be decided and authorize a feasibility report at a later date.
Trailhead stream bank restoration
Quotes were obtained from Barth Construction for additional stream bank restoration along the Trailhead Park. The total quote with sales tax was $18,743.23. It was broken down into three parts so the council could do any part or all of the area. Hoffman noted once the area is cleared Public Works would need to maintain the additional area to keep woody growth down. Reicks said, if we are going to do it, now is the time because of the permitting process. An amendment to the stream bank restoration project to include these areas would be required and would cost the city $500 to prepare and to submit the documents. The council unanimously decided to go ahead with all three parts.
Other business in brief
• Hoffman announced that the cost of health insurance for the city/utility will be increased by 15% in 2018. This is a 5% greater increase than was in the proposed budget. Claims have been lower than expected for three years in a row. This unexpected large increase will amount to an additional $4,200 increase to the levy over the first draft. The cost of the city’s health insurance did not increase in 2016 and 2017. The city is locked into this insurance for 2018. The increase will raise the proposed levy increase from 7.57% to 8.07%. Employees share of the health insurance payments will also increase 15%. The council will need to certify the preliminary budget and levy before the end of September.
• A assessment hearing was held on the 2017 sidewalk improvements. Jim Bakken reviewed the assessment roll. Property owners pay 50% of assessable sidewalk. ADA ramps are not assessable. There were no comments from the public or the council. A resolution was approved adopting the assessment roll for the 2017 sidewalk improvements.
• A rezoning request from Travis Malley with consent of property owner Mike Schwarz was approved as recommended by Planning and Zoning. A small parcel at 230 Maple St. will be rezoned from R-1 (Ag/Residential) to R-2 (One and Two Family Residential). A resolution was approved adopting ordinance 27X amending the city code to allow the rezoning and split of about a half acre from the larger parcel. Malley intends to build a single family home on the half acre parcel.
• A contract with the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association to provide safety coordination services for the city/utility was approved. The city’s 45% share is estimated to be $7,087, which represents a 2.3% increase over 2017.
• The city’s contract with S&S Sanitation will expire at the end of 2017. Maust said there have been very few complaints about the service. There was a consensus to look into extending the contract.
• Councilman Charles Sparks and councilwoman Holly Zuck will serve on a joint committee for labor negotiations with the Preston Public Employees Association. The current contract will expire at the end of this year.
• A request for a $4,000 loan as per Greater Minnesota Housing Fund loan terms from Jon Gatzke to renovate two vacant apartments at 216 St. Paul St. was approved as recommended by the EDA.
• A $3,750 contribution from the EDA to the National Trout Center was approved.
• The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Toward Zero Deaths Grant with Fillmore County Sheriff’s office was approved. TZD focuses on education, emergency, enforcement, and engineering. The grant program provides federal funds to law enforcement for enhanced traffic enforcement.