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St. Paul Street improvement

Fri, Jan 25th, 2013
Posted in Preston Government

Public Works Director Jim Bakken reported at the Preston City Council’s January 22 meeting that the county is considering a mill and overlay project on CSAH 17 (St. Paul Street) from Fillmore Street to the south bridge, before the power plant. Councilman Charles Sparks was absent.

Bakken related the work would probably be scheduled for July or August. He confirmed that the water and sewer utilities are in good shape under that section of street. Core drillings collected by the county found that there was a variety of surfaces under the street including brick, cement and gravel.

The city will be responsible for the cost of new curb and gutter (300 to 400 feet), the provision of a cement edge (walkway) connecting to the brick side street, and at least part of the cost of fixing or replacing a couple of catch basins. Sidewalks are also in poor condition and would be fully the city’s responsibility. Bakken estimated the total city cost could be about $20,000.

Small Cities Grant

In May of 2012 the city council approved a resolution to act as legal sponsor for HRA/Semcac to seek small cities grant funds to assist with the acquisition and updating of the Vesterheim apartment complex. The application was extended to request funding to renovate up to 15 low to moderate income homes in November of 2012. The intention is to bring the homes up to code and to make them more energy efficient.

To qualify the homes must be owner occupied. Surveys are being sent out to home owners. There will be a public hearing on February 4. Grant applications are due February 28. The grant amount per home will be a maximum of $22,000.

There is no cost to the city other than some staff time. The city staff does accounting and pays the contractors. After the contractor is paid, the amount is submitted to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for reimbursement.

Other Business In Brief

•A resolution was adopted encouraging law makers to maintain the tax exemption for municipal bonds. Preston is looking at about $4 million in infrastructure improvements over the next ten years. Without the tax exemption for purchasers (a bond buyer doesn’t pay federal tax on earned interest) of the bonds it is estimated that interest rates on those bonds will be 1.5 to 2.0 percent higher. This could cost Preston residents about $600 per household over the life of this bond. On a 15 year bond that would be about $40 per household per year. The resolution will be sent to Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Congressman Tim Walz.

•Every three years public jurisdictions (in this case city/utility) are required to submit a report to the state to show they are in compliance with Pay Equity requirements. City Administrator Joe Hoffman reported the city is in compliance. The implementation form was approved.

•Ambulance Director Ryan Throckmorton reported 2012 write offs of $30,643.60 for 2012 and 2011 write offs of $4,736.41. Write offs are expected each year as they are the difference between the service’s standard rates and what private insurance/Medicare/Medicaid reimburse. For 2012 the write off is 17.9 percent of the total billed. The 2011 A/R balance write offs of $5,214.22 consist of largely uncollectable accounts. This amount is 4 percent lower than in previous years. It was noted that the city can still pursue collection, but acknowledges that it is unlikely to collect. The write offs were approved.

•Volunteers for Trout Day Committee are needed. There is to be a meeting Wednesday, January 30 at 6 p.m. at city hall. Three members of the committee have stepped down. Three or four more volunteers are needed.

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