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Preston City Council Report: City to consider joint police operation with Lanesboro

Fri, Aug 22nd, 2003
Posted in Features

Preston Police Chief Matt Schultz was given the go ahead by the Preston City Council at their Monday, August 18 meeting, to research the feasibility of entering into an arrangement to provide law enforcement coverage for the city of Lanesboro. The city of Lanesboro, which recently let their police chief go after six months on the job, approached Schultz about looking into the matter. (For additional coverage on this matter, see Council explores police options, Page 1).Schultz told the council that there appeared to be two options available: form a joint powers agreement between the two cities, or for Lanesboro to contract with Preston for police coverage.

We would probably need to add one more officer and adjust the rotation, Schultz told the council. Given the budget restraints, I think both cities could benefit. Preston presently has a two person police force.

Schultz recommended that a committee, made up of himself and a council member from each of the two cities, be formed to research the issue. Mayor Dave Pechulis volunteered to represent the Preston City Council.

Kansas Street Improvements

Joe Palen, an engineer with Boonstroo & Associates, presented a plan to upgrade Kansas Street, which runs northwest from Hwy. 52 toward the elementary school, from a 7 ton to a 9 ton road. This would widen the road to 44 feet, with parking on both sides of the road. Palen said that the upgrade would better accommodate school buses and other heavier vehicles. The project would be tied into the Hwy. 52 upgrade with bids being let in March.

While Palen recommended increasing the tonnage capacity of the road, he suggested the council assess improvements at a 7 ton level ($55 to $60 a lineal foot) in order to keep costs more fair and equitable.

When asked by Mayor Pechulis how the city can justify assessments at this level when Ridge Road and Spring Street were considerably less, Palen said that those two projects had been subsidized by the state.

These rates will hopefully form a precedent for future projects, Palen said.

A public hearing has been scheduled for September 2.

TIF Public Hearing

Mike Bubany, of Dave Drown Associates, told the council that there are revenue shortfalls related to two Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Revenue notes being held by F&M Community Bank, which were used to help finance the Assisted Living and Ethanol projects.

Taxes generated in the two TIF districts are applied to paying off the revenue notes.

Since the notes were issued, the state legislature has changed property tax law which has led to a shortfall in the tax increments being applied. First the state changed the commercial property rates. Then the state took over education funding which reduced low tax rates.

In the case of the Assisted Living (TIF District 6), tax collection is approximately $2,000 less per year. If tax collection continues at this rate, the bank stands to lose nearly $90,000 over the life of the TIF district (2014).

The tax increment on the Ethanol Plant (TIF District 1) is nearly $40,000 less than originally estimated at the time the notes were written. Over the life of the TIF district (2008), losses could run as high as $300,000.

Bubany told the council that because of the problems the state has created, they are giving local units of government options to offset these changes.

This includes unfreezing the tax rate set on the TIF at the time the notes were written. This requires a public hearing and for the city council to take action.

While the city is under no obligation to do this, the notes were limited obligations to the city, Bubany believes that the city should assist the note holder (F&M Community Bank) in this case.

Its very possible that these projects would not have gone forward without the developer having tax increment financing to help the project move forward, Bubany said. I think the city should take action to reduce the losses to the note holders.

By allowing the interest rate to float, it allows the city to apply a higher amount of increment to the note.

A public hearing was set for October 6 to discuss the matter.

Other Business

The council approved the Tri-County Firefighters Association Mutual Aid Agreement between fire departments in Fillmore, Houston and Winona counties.

The council approved placing the citys ordinances on the Internet at a cost of $250 per year.

The council awarded the sidewalk maintenance bid to Bob Bakke Construction.

The council scheduled a special city council meeting to discuss the budget for September 3.

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