At the city council’s August 21 meeting, Ambulance Director Deb Ristau reported on the department’s fleet of three ambulances. Mayor Kurt Reicks was absent.
The 2013 Ford F450 from Lanesboro has had numerous mechanical issues. A new ambulance is estimated to cost $330,185 and if ordered now may not be delivered for two-and-a-half to three years. The trade-in value of the 2013 ambulance is expected to be about $30,000.
City Administrator Ryan Throckmorton explained that Lanesboro transferred reserves to Preston to aid in the replacement of the ambulance. He added that the department works on a 10-year rotation of its ambulances. With that in mind, another ambulance is due to be traded in about six months (2014 Ford). About $75,000 to $100,000 is added to reserves each year to pay for ambulances due for rotation. The third ambulance currently in the fleet is a 2020 Ram.
A motion was approved to order a new ambulance now with an expected 2025-2026 delivery to replace the 2013 ambulance.
Throckmorton discussed the first draft of the 2024 budget which showed a possible 5.8% levy increase. A 1% increase in the levy equals about $11,350.
The 2023 Minnesota legislature passed an annual increase to Local Government Aid in the amount of $80 million, which will result in a $31,737 increase for Preston. This is the first notable increase in 12 years. Preston will receive a total of $539,116 in LGA.
Health insurance increased 6.3%, which is lower than the 15% estimated. A 5% cost of living increase, which is yet to be set, was figured into these early budget numbers. Election expenses will increase in 2024 as it is an election year. More will be budgeted for anticipated repairs for the library.
This was a first draft. The preliminary levy will need to be approved in September. The final levy is to be adopted in December, which can be lower but not higher than the preliminary levy.
Councilman Charles Sparks commented he was glad to see the state increase LGA, which will help keep local levy increases lower. No action was taken on the budget this day.
The next meeting of the city council will be held on September 5.