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Preston City Council Report: 2006 street improvements - who pays?

Fri, Jul 21st, 2006
Posted in Government

Michael Lynch from Bonestroo, Rosene, Anderlik and Associates summarized plans and specifications for overlaying three streets at the Preston City Council meeting on Monday, July 17. The council agreed that portions of Parkside Drive, Main Street, and St. Anthony Street should be overlayed with bituminous to extend the life of those streets. Lynch explained a schedule with the actual work to be done in September.

City Administrator Joe Hoffman noted that other streets in the city are in worse condition. However, they are beyond repairing with a simple overlay and will require total reconstruction. A portion of Matthew Street from Judy Lane to the cul-de-sac was inspected, but it was determined that it was too deteriorated for an overlay and eventually will require reconstruction.

Council members voted unanimously to go ahead with the plans. Heath Mensink was absent. A long discussion ensued over the way to pay for the projects which are estimated to cost about $79,000. Lynch suggested that reconstructed streets are expected to last about forty to fifty years with regular maintenance. The overlays will extend the life of the streets and help them meet that life expectancy.

Lynch stated that the city has assessed 80% of the cost of streets. Council member Robert Sauer asked if street assessments have to improve the value of the property in the amount of the assessment as do sidewalks. Lynch replied in the affirmative. Council member Steve Knoepke suggested that it would be a 'tough sell' to say that 80% of the cost could be seen in increased property value. Lynch insisted that improvements in a neighborhood have to 'hurt a little.' Lynch estimated assessments to be between $17.55 to $22.63 per lineal foot of property frontage.

Hoffman said that a little over $100,000 is available for street maintenance. He went on to say assessments would replenish the budget to allow for funding of future work. Hoffman warned that using only the city's street budget will make it necessary to raise taxes in the future. All street improvements are subsidized by the city at least with 20% of the cost.

Lynch stated that bituminous prices have increased by 30% as they are partly determined by the price of oil. Knoepke added that an overlay is maintenance and that maintenance is paid for with city money. Hoffman reminded council members that part of two of the streets would be the responsibility of Fillmore County if the costs were assessed. He noted that the county doesn't pay property taxes which will have to pay for the overlays if there are no assessments. Dr. Sauer said that he felt it was necessary to replenish the funds for future reconstruction. Both Public Works Director Bill Cox and Michael Lynch warned of the tremendous future costs of streets requiring total reconstruction. The city would pay at least 20% of those projects.

Knoepke asked Hoffman if overlays have been assessed in the past. Hoffman said that he would research that question and check and see how other cities pay for overlay projects.

The council agreed to hold an assessment hearing on August 7 at 6:00 p.m. Property owners affected will be notified. The council will make a decision after the hearing whether to access property owners or use only city funds.

Tennis Courts

Wayne Dreier, spokesman for the Tennis Court Steering Committee, updated the council. He explained that a site on East Fillmore Street across from the City Shop seems to be the best location. Dreier noted that the site would also allow for a basketball court and maybe for sand volleyball courts, playground equipment, and a shelter. The property is apparently located in Preston Township, but is owned by the city. The city would have to annex the property which doesn't seem to be a problem with the township.

Dreier explained that the committee recommends the court be constructed with tension concrete which has a life expectancy of about 50 years with a projected cost of up to $83,000. A bituminous surface would be about two-thirds the cost, but would only last fifteen to twenty years.

The total estimated cost for two tennis courts is $110,000 without the basketball courts. Dreier noted that so far $94,960 has been raised in contributions and pledges. He explained that if they can raise $10,000 more, they will receive additional matching contributions from the Preston Area Community Foundation and the Christianson Family Fund. The committee is hoping to raise money on July 28 with the celebration of the Highway 52 opening.

Dreier requested that the city underwrite any additional money up to $25,000 that will be necessary to complete the project including the basketball courts, parking lot, etc.

Hoffman suggested that the area needs to be surveyed to clear up any confusion as to whether the property is part of the city now or in Preston Township. The council approved a motion allowing the committee to go ahead through the bidding process. The council will then review the financial obligation for the city after the bids are received.

Other Business

• Dwight Luhmann of Committee in Action (CIA) invited citizens to their second town meeting on Tuesday, August 1, from 7-9:00 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church.

• Police Chief Matt Schultz gave an activity report for his department. He acknowledged their participation in the seat belt program which was funded through a grant. He explained that the next campaign will be a 'safe and sober' program which will be funded with grant monies from the state.

• Schultz said that with "project child safe" his department will help distribute gun locks at the county fair. Locks are also available at the police office.

• He noted that he or his officers attend training programs provided by the state. He said that the department is in need of updates in equipment and that they are looking for funding from outside sources to help purchase new equipment.

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