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Robert Maust joins Preston Council

Fri, Dec 7th, 2012
Posted in Preston Government

The Preston City Council during their December 4 meeting filled the open seat left by the resignation of Kay Spangler effective December 1. Spangler’s resignation was accepted as she and her husband were moving to Chatfield. Early in November the council voted to accept letters of application from interested city residents to fill the vacancy. Robert Maust, who has been a long-time resident of Preston, submitted the only letter of interest.

Maust’s letter was accepted and he was appointed to finish out the term of Spangler. Maust took the oath of office and was seated at the council table for the remainder of the meeting.

Spangler had also acted as Mayor pro-tem. David Collett was elected to act in that capacity.

Budget Levy Review and

Public Comment

City Administrator Joe Hoffman reviewed the 2013 proposed budget and levy. He said the levy is to increase about three percent or $20,000. Expenses for the city for 2013 are estimated to be 16 percent police, six percent fire department, 16 percent streets, three percent tourism, six percent library, seven percent park board, four percent EDA and NTC, 15 percent for bonds, and 27 percent for the general fund. Expected revenues include 31 percent state aid ($484,980), 11 percent police and fire, six percent tourism/library/parks, nine percent other, and 43 percent from the tax levy.

Hoffman suggested the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ could have an impact on state revenue.

Councilman David Collett said that the funding for the National Trout Center had been about doubled in the 2013 budget, maintaining it should be kept at the same level as last year. Hoffman said the final decisions will be made at the next meeting, which will be Tuesday, December 18.

Robert Maust asked how the street maintenance fund compared to last year. Hoffman said it was about the same. He went on to explain that over the next few years bond payments will fall off. In 2013 engineering work will be done and in 2014 street work. Mayor Kurt Reicks noted engineers will be prioritizing the streets that need work soon after the beginning of the year.

Other Business In Brief

•Members of the Preston Historical Society including Richard Petsch, Sheila Craig, and Robert Maust reviewed updated plans for the Historic Elevator project prepared by an architect for the reconstruction of the bagging shed and scale house. The project has received three grants previously, a total of $60,000, for planning and architectural work.

Petsch said legacy funding only allows for restoration. Craig asked the council for a letter of support for an application for a grant from the state which is due March 1. The hope is for a large grant to do the restoration. She said the Historic Elevator is an asset to Preston and adds to the trailhead area. Reicks said the letter will be put on the agenda for the first meeting in January.

•Steven Schlick had expressed interest in buying a small parcel of land belonging to the city near the city trail. Hoffman said he thought the city purchased the land in 1995. The land is located in the flood plain and is not buildable. Schlick said the small parcel would make it easier to mow and it would join the property where he has his garden. Councilman Charles Sparks suggested Schlick be allowed to use the piece for his garden.

Reicks wasn’t interested in selling the parcel, as the city has been trying to clean up the flood plain and make it a green area. Councilman David Harrison said he didn’t have a problem with Schlick using it as a garden. A motion to not to pursue the sale of the property was approved. Collett abstained.

•The Fillmore County Journal was approved to be the official newspaper for 2013.

•The annual retainer option ($18,000) from the Joerg Law Office was accepted unanimously with Dwight Luhmann as the primary attorney. Attorney Scott Springer had offered an annual retainer option of $16,200.

After some discussion of another possible option of a meeting retainer plus an hourly rate, the option of an annual retainer was considered the better choice for the upcoming year. Reicks said the additional $1,800 for Luhmann may be prudent because of the trail issue. A ruling on the appeal is expected possibly in February.

•There were two proposals to do the city audit. A proposal from Pam Ristau CPA was accepted for 2012-2013 for $10,400 per year. Smith, Schafer and Associates, Ltd had submitted a proposal of $14,500 for 2012 and $15,200 for 2013.

•The city policy for rental of the council room was changed from an availability of 24/7 for public and private use to an availability only when city hall is open. The reason for the limitation is the cost and sensitivity of the electronics that were added during the recent remodel.

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