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Preston City Council Report: Bonding, street improvements and travel expenses

Fri, Jul 11th, 2003
Posted in Features

A busy agenda engaged the council for all of three hours with Mayor Pro-temp Mike Gartner conducting the meeting in the absence of Mayor David Pechulis.

Mike Bubany of David Drown Associates laid out his recommendations for selling bonds in the amount of $1,265,000. The bonds which would be general obligation improvement or utility revenue bonds would be used to fund the City's portion of reconstruction costs for Spring Avenue, Ridge Road and Pleasant Street sewer improvements and the water and storm improvements associated with those projects.

Bubany suggested a fifteen year bond callable in 2011 should the city want to accelerate payments. The first payment on the bonds would be due February of 2004. This payment would be covered by utility revenues. Annual payments will come from revenue obtained from special assessments, tax levies, and water, sanitary sewer and stormwater fees. Because of the size of the bond, Bubany recommended a competitive sale which has extra costs but which could be more than offset by lower interest rates. He recommended that the bonds get a Moodys rating to lower interest rates as much as .25%. The council approved the general bidding of the bonds.

Feasibility Study for Kansas Street Improvements

Joe Palen of Bonestroo Associates presented a report on the proposed Highway 52 street and utility improvements to Kansas Street between Spring Avenue and Washington Street. The estimated cost for the City's portion would be about $580,000. He asked for a resolution to be adopted which recognized his report and set a date for a public hearing. City attorney David Joerg asked to meet with Palen to draw up the resolution for the next council meeting. Palen suggested that assessments would need to be made on 650 feet of frontage on Kansas Street which would be $50 per lineal foot or more. The state needs all plans completed by November. Kansas Street would be widened to accommodate parallel parking on both sides and made into a nine ton road as opposed to a normal seven ton road for heavy traffic.

Policy for Travel Expenses

Mike Gartner read a statement pertaining to his beliefs as to elected officials responsibilities and duties placed on them by the trust of the voting public. He explained that when he was first appointed to the council many years ago he was told that he must always keep in mind two disciplines: 'spend your tax dollars wisely for the City of Preston and represent all the people.'

In his statement, which referred to Mayor Pechulis and the phone bills he incurred, Gartner said that 'people will have to foot the bill. . .wish the mayor would have enough integrity to pay the bills. . .I feel tax money is being misappropriated.'

Gartner then offered a resolution for a policy for travel expenses for elected and appointed officials. Officials would use their own funds and be reimbursed by the council when receipts are turned in and approved for payment. Gartner repeated his belief that the phone bills amount to misappropriation of funds which he equates to stealing and cheating the people of Preston. Council members figured the amount as roughly $162 which would they considered to be personal calls. Gartner also said that he regretted that Pechulis was absent and unable to defend himself.

Steve Knoepke said that because the Utility Board would also be included in this policy they should have an opportunity to consider it. Gartner agreed. Knoepke said that citizens should be able to rely on 'good faith' and the policy should be 'thou shall not steal.' After much discussion, Attorney Joerg said that it was unfair to discuss this further without Pechulis here.

Rogue Beaver

John and Joanne Szuch described the problem that has been ongoing since May where a beaver has been destroying their hedge along the bike trail. The property owners have an agreement with the city that was made when the trail was built. The city is responsible for maintaining a hedge for privacy for the Szuchs.

They have notified the city numerous times about the problem. The beaver's destruction of the hedge has not subsided. Szuch emphasized that the city's inability to stop the beaver is going to cost the city many times more than it should have at one hundred dollars per tree. An attempt to trap the beaver has failed.

Gartner suggested that the next time the beaver is spotted that the police be called so that they may shoot the animal.

150th Celebration Budget

Jeanette Schmidt, representing the committee working on Preston's Celebration of its 150th birthday in 2005, requested the council commit to providing the committee $10,000 for the year 2004. She explained that some of the money would be recouped from the sale of memorabilia and souvenirs. McGarvey responded, We need to promote our town." The $10,000 budget was approved.

Other business

Greg Johnson armed with maps, business plan, letters, and proposals again requested that the council vacate a portion of Mill Street. Johnson wants to build a miniature golf course on his property. David Joerg suggested that in lieu of another public hearing that Johnson get the consent of surrounding land owners that are new since the 2001 public hearing on the matter. Gartner wants consent from all surrounding owners.

A motion will be made in writing for the next meeting which will include a completion date mandated by the council. The motion will also be subject to DNR approval.

Dan Skadsem explained his exploration into costs and equipment for a new truck. The truck would cost $53,000 and the sand equipment $43,000. He expects the truck to last up to twenty years. The truck would be leased with payments of $21,000 per year. The council approved the purchase of a new vehicle up to $100,000.

The new five year contract with S&S Sanitation was approved.

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