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Preston will need to tighten its belt if local government aide is reduced

Fri, Mar 7th, 2003
Posted in Features

If Governor Tim Pawlenty's budget proposal is accepted as is, Preston will receive $61,000 (10.7%) less in Local Government Aide (LGA) from the state this year. Next year the reduction would be $117,000 (24%). Mayor David Pechulis suggested that when this money is lost, it is lost for good. "This is the way it is going to be, Pechulis declared.

The mayor and city administrator, Fred Nagle, recently attended a meeting of the Minnesota Municipal Utilities where the cuts for local governments were detailed. Pechulis told the council that they were to look at the reductions as an 'opportunity' to look at how things are done and how to change them.

Nagle reiterated that Pawlentys cuts are still a proposal, but things probably would not get much better. As cuts will come in July, the mayor would like to see a revised budget proposal for the city by April. Nagle explained that there is not a deadline yet as the budget has not been approved by the legislature.

Message channel

The City of Preston does not currently have a signed agreement with Mediacom. City Attorney, David Joerg explained that an agreement with Mediacom was delayed until Preston received high speed Internet service, which it now has. There is also an opportunity to get camera equipment from the cable company to produce events for local channel viewing.

Fred Nagle suggested that if the city had use for the equipment, an agreement could be made with Mediacom to get some. Nagle said that a volunteer committee could be formed to look at Spring Valley's system and to find out what their costs and other cities' costs are.

According to the cable agreement, the city may regulate cable rates subject to federal law. The City now gets 1% of the gross revenue (about $2,000 to $2,500 per year). By law the City could get up to 5%, however, any increases would be passed onto the consumer via increased cable bills.

Jerry Scheevel warned that they should 'be careful about raising cable rates'. Scheevel suggested that the committee look into what equipment the high school may have and also the extent of any media department it may have. A camera and recorder if provided by MediaCom would be available for community and civic events such as games, parades, and council meetings. These events could be aired on local access programming. MediaCom would require a letter of commitment from the City.

Joel Young, Chatfield City Clerk, sent an e-mail to Southeast Cities requesting their consideration in joining a collaborative effort to expand use of the local access channel in their community. In order to participate, cities would have to be serviced by Mediacom with their original signal emanating from the Chatfield head-end. There could be twenty-eight cities included. Nagle thinks they should reply that they are interested in possibly joining the regional effort.


Mike Gartner asked for an update on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's (MPCA) decision and the public meeting on Heartland. MPCA decided against requiring the tougher environmental review or environmental impact statement (EIS) and issued an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW). The Planning and Zoning Committee will now revisit the issue.

Several citizens were upset by what they saw as inadequate answers at the MPCA meeting. Inez Strahl said they skirted off the question about mercury emissions. She was also disturbed by their unwillingness to classify tires as a fossil fuel as they are petroleum based. She felt an 'injustice was done'.

Forestville looks for

public support

Historic Forestville will take a direct hit from the proposed budget reductions. The Minnesota Historical Society will have severe cuts and will be forced to close eight historic sites, including Forestville which borders Forestville State Park. It will continue to operate until June 30 with its sixteen employees. The village of Forestville was one of the communities which sprouted up along the South Branch of the Root River to service the stagecoach line during the mid-1800's. In 1992 the village turned into a 'living museum' as interpreters demonstrate the day to day lives of inhabitants as they were in the 1890's. Forestville is looking for public support to keep the historic site open.

Other business

The Board of Review Meeting will be held on April 17, 2003 from 7:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Anyone wishing to contest their Real Estate Tax can do so at this time.

Wastewater projects were discussed. Jerry Scheevel said that at the present time the Root River meets the standards of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. However, Scheevel warned that when the city is making plans we have to keep in mind that rules and regulations continue to get tougher. Wet and dry ponds that are in place and that are proposed were discussed as to their benefits in the control of flooding and wastewater run-off.

Karen Reisner can be contacted at

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