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Preston reviews street assessment report

Fri, Oct 5th, 2012
Posted in Preston Government

Brett Grabau, Stantec, reported on the street assessment completed by his firm at the Preston City Council’s October 1 meeting. Councilman David Harrison was absent.

The purpose of the detailed street assessment is to help the city council and staff plan for street replacement and maintenance. Grabau said they had looked at every street in town and graded the condition of each of them on a ten point scale. He described six types of preventative maintenance and estimated the cost per square yard for maintenance.

Grabau noted that some streets that have recently been reconstructed are in very good condition. Most of the street ratings fall on “one end of the spectrum or the other.” They are either in good condition or poor condition. Once road ways get to a certain point of wear, without proper maintenance the condition falls off quickly.

The plan takes into account underlying utility problems. Costs almost double if preventative maintenance is not routinely completed. Grabau detailed many recommendations including but not limited to a dedicated city maintenance budget and a review of the streets every few years.

In the report the estimated total cost to make all the suggested improvements to the city streets including both reconstruction and maintenance was $4.9 million. City Administrator Joe Hoffman said this is a big number, but manageable. This is not going to be done in one year. Current street bonds will be paid off in four or five years. Some of the cost will also be paid by assessments. The study will be reviewed over the next six months. Any construction will not occur until 2014. Hoffman noted that 40 percent of the streets were graded on the high end of the scale. Grabau called the report a starting point.

Voter ID

Councilwoman Kay Spangler passed out some information that she had gathered on the proposed Minnesota Voter ID Amendment which will be on the November ballot. She asked that the other council members take it home and read it and suggested they might discuss it at the next meeting.

She stressed that the voter ID proposal is an “unfunded mandate,” which means that local governments will foot most of the bill. “In the first year alone costs are projected to be almost $70 million, of which $63 million will come directly from local governments.” Spangler maintained this is relevant to local government, insisting nothing in the amendment says how it will be paid for. She also said that same day registration will no longer be a possibility, adding that Minnesota has been one of the highest voter turn out states in the union. It was stated that the apparent reason for the amendment is to cut down on voter fraud, but the “evidence of voter fraud due to unverifiable same-day registration in 2008 was 0.221 percent.”

Councilman David Collett called the proposed amendment “highly discriminatory.” However, he questioned whether it was the council’s place to take a position on it. Spangler said that other municipalities and counties have made statements concerning the proposed amendment. Mayor Kurt Reicks said it is tough to take a position on this. Councilman Charles Sparks added we have to realize it will be costing a lot of money. Hoffman stated he didn’t want to say no or yes, but said if the amendment was approved by the electorate, the photo ID would be needed even in a city council election.

Other Business In Brief

•Kathy Dahl, Preston tourism, presented a letter from the Root River Trail Towns group. The group promotes trails and all cities along the trails. She said she had been asked by Julie Kiehne to take the letter back to their communities. Dahl noted that most of the communities have chosen to remain neutral. She said she didn’t want to independently decide whether or not to attach the city of Preston to a letter addressed to the Fillmore County Commissioners and the Frac Sand Committee.

The letter encourages the committee to make ordinance revisions that set “reasonable limits and mitigate the adverse impacts of large scale mining of sand.” The group wants to protect and preserve our area for many generations. Reicks said it is tough for the four of us to take a stand on this issue for all of Preston. Reicks, Collett and Sparks all suggested they remain neutral. Spangler asked if the committee has looked into Lanesboro’s list of concerns as to the economic impact. Reicks said they can address the issue in the future if they need to.

•Approval was given for the purchase of a new Henderson Stainless Steel tailgate sand/salt spreader at the low quote from Universal Equipment, Galesville, Wisconsin. The council approved an amount of up to $5,000 for the spreader and a retrofitting of a dump truck to make it compatible. Hoffman noted there was money in the budget for the purchase.

•Personnel policy was discussed relating to workers compensation. Hoffman noted that there is a state law that has a three day waiting period before workers compensation kicks in. He suggested that employees be allowed to use sick leave to cover those three days. Language to that effect will be drafted and brought back to the next meeting.

•The council approved the payment of $35 for membership dues to the Southeast Minnesota League of Municipalities (SEMLM).

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