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Preston reviews first draft of 2013 budget


Fri, Aug 24th, 2012
Posted in Preston Government

City Administrator Joe Hoffman presented a draft of the 2013 budget compiled from departmental requests at the council’s August 22 meeting. Mayor Kurt Reicks was absent. The meeting was held in the fire hall due to the ongoing remodeling of city hall.

Hoffman noted the Market Value Credit had been eliminated for 2012, so the city will not be receiving those funds, but the city is expected to receive $484,980 in Local Government Aid from the state which would be the same amount as last year.

The budget includes a 1.75 percent cost of living increase and step increases for city employees which will add about $5,000 to the budget. A potential increase in insurance could add up to $8,000. The council had approved a request earlier this month from the Planning and Zoning Commission to fund an updated Comprehensive Land Use Plan in 2013. An additional $5,000 was budgeted for the update.

The two largest increases include a request from the board of the National Trout Center (NTC) for $15,000 (previous 3 years has been $7,500) and a request from the EDA which doubles its budget from last year to include $29,000 for property acquisitions. The acquisition price includes funds for three parcels and tank removal at the former Preston Oil and Petroleum site.

The most visible savings in the budget over 2012 will include no expense for elections saving $2,600 and the reduction of the full time city hall maintenance position to half time saving a total of $34,847 in salary and benefits.

The early draft of the 2013 budget would have a $26,167 increase in the levy or 4.01 percent. Hoffman commented that the city has tried in the past to keep levy increases at three percent or less.

Councilwoman Kay Spangler wanted to know what a 4 percent increase of the city portion of the property taxes would mean to the average property owner. Hoffman said he would have that information at their next meeting. There was a consensus by the council for Hoffman to go back to the departments to lower the potential increase to 3 percent or less.

It is required that the preliminary budget and levy be approved by September 15. The preliminary number is the number used to calculate property taxes. When the final budget/levy is approved in December, the preliminary number can be reduced, but not increased.

NTC

Board member Dan Christianson explained that the requested increase in financial support from the city is necessary to increase staff to help the center grow and become an independent organization. He said they need help to become self sufficient. Adequate staff time is needed to help with fund raising activities and to maintain the current programs being offered.

Christianson admitted it is taking longer than they anticipated to become self sufficient. Kay Spangler commented that there has been great progress in their three years of operation. Hoffman said that he couldn’t promise this would be the last time they would request help from the city.

Christianson said it takes time to get off the ground and to grow. The center is a great concept and fits this region well and is an investment in the community that will pay off in the long run. Hoffman noted that less than a third of the NTC budget comes from the city.

Christianson said there was some money in there for the acquisition of property which will need clean-up. Councilman David Collett remarked that the rest of the council knows “his opinion about the city being in the real estate business.” Collett has consistently voted against past city property acquisitions in the flood plain which the city has paid 12.4 percent of the sale value. In those cases the rest has been paid for by the DNR and FEMA.

Other Business In Brief

•Hoffman informed the council that the city will need to buy more radios, as about half of the city’s radios are not compatible with narrowbanding. The FCC mandates that the radios be narrowband compliant by the end of this year. The narrowbanding will allow for more radio frequencies. Hoffman believes they will be able to purchase mostly used radios. He will have figures as to the cost at the next meeting.

•David Anderson described what will be needed for a sound system for the remodeled council chambers. Anderson put together a proposal including microphones, amplification, digital recorder, and installation. The total estimate is $3,963.80. Hoffman noted this equipment is not top of the line, but adequate and economical. The proposal was approved.

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