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NTC fund raising

Fri, Apr 19th, 2013
Posted in Preston Features

By Karen Reisner

George Spangler, National Trout Center (NTC), reviewed the quarterly financial position of the center at the Preston City Council’s April 15 meeting. He said the NTC depends on the city council for both moral and fiscal support.

Spangler detailed the efforts that have been made during this legislative session to have the NTC included in the state bonding bill to provide funding for a new permanent home for the center. He believes they were well received by the House Capital Investment Committee. The center is expected to have an impact locally, regionally, and state wide. Spangler reported that Representative Greg Davids thinks they are more likely to have success next year. Senator Jeremy Miller and Davids both support the NTC.

Councilman Robert Maust suggested over the last four years the citizens of Preston have supported the center with as much as $90,000. Spangler explained that a feasibility study completed for the NTC suggested it would take ten to fifteen years to bring in revenue equivalent to expenditures. When we will get to self sufficiency, remarked Spangler, “at this point is just a guess.”

There was concern about the budget plan for the center. With the hire of full time Director of Programs and Operations Heath Sershen the budgeted funds could fall short due to the cost of health insurance for the full time employee. It was noted Sershen was to receive the same benefits as other city employees.

Preston Tourism Director Kathy Dahl also works one and one-half days for the NTC to do marketing and communications.

Mayor Kurt Reicks later directed NTC officials and city staff to do a revised budget before the next quarterly report. By that time it is expected that the NTC will be able to provide an estimate of the amount of money that can be raised through fund raising efforts.

Sershen detailed a variety of fund raising efforts in the works. Preston citizens will soon get an “ask letter” with their utility bill. The letter is intended to generate income and increase awareness. In addition Sershen has been working to identify grants that can be used for operations. Other revenue possibilities include classes geared to the art of fishing, a Tri-Athlon (peddling, paddling, and fishing), geology bus tour, web donations, and more.

Spangler said this is the year that we will find out which revenue streams are worth developing.

Appeals and Equalization

County Assessor Cynthia Blagsvedt gave a summary of assessed property values in Preston. For the 2013 assessment home values in Preston were reduced twenty-five percent, commercial/industrial values were up five percent, and agricultural property values were up twenty-five percent. These values are determined by a sample of property sales. The total 2013 assessment value for Preston was down slightly over seven percent due to the decrease in the estimated market value of homes.

During the public hearing, the public can challenge the assessed value (estimated market value) of a property. Mitch Henderson, representing POET, questioned the reassessment of the ethanol plant. Blagsvedt explained ethanol plants within the state were looked at by the Department of Revenue. The Preston plant was reviewed in October. She said POET in Preston had added fermentation tanks, and other improvements that had not been valued for 2012. These additions contributed to the estimated market value almost doubling for 2013.

Henderson maintained the market value increased 57 percent due to a number of line items that were added. He called the figure an “eye popper.” Maust asked if there was a large capital improvement in the last year. Henderson said there was. Blagsvedt said the last time the plant was reviewed was five years ago. She said she could show him a spread sheet from the Department of Revenue to show the values.

Blagsvedt explained if the council decided against any change, POET could go to the county board. Because the council is required to make a decision within 20 days, they decided to hold their first May meeting on April 29 and recess the hearing until then. POET could make their case at that time. Henderson noted POET may decide to do nothing in the mean time.

Other Business In Brief

•Main Street from St. Anthony Street to Houston Street will be closed on May 18 from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the Trout Days Car Show. The county has approved closures on CSAH 12 and 17. Chatfield Avenue from Fillmore Central Elementary to St. Paul Street will be closed from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

•Collin Bennett was approved to be hired as the city’s summer helper. He was selected from seven applicants.

•The council voted to renew their insurance with LMCIT Insurance.

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