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Preston to proceed with plans for Twenty-14 Project


Fri, Sep 6th, 2013
Posted in Preston Government

Stantec engineer Brett Grabau gives details and answers questions about the proposed Twenty-14 Project. Photo by Karen Reisner

Stantec engineer Brett Grabau explained at the public hearing for the Twenty-14 Project that the proposed project will involve about one-third of the city’s streets and underlying utilities. A resolution was adopted later during the September 3 city council meeting to order plans and specifications for the project.

The project is to include the Fire Hall area bordered on the west by Washington and Winona Streets, on the north by Spring and North Streets, on the east by St. Paul Street and on the south by River and Main Streets. The second project area is referred to as the South Hill area and includes Judy Lane, Matthew Street and Russell Street. The reconstruction project will include both reconstruction of the streets and the underlying utilities.

The estimated total project cost is $3,295,754 of which about $2 million is for street improvements. The balance will be for water main, storm sewer, sanitary sewer, and utility service improvements. The assessed portion of the street improvements is expected to be about $790,000. The assessed portion of the utility service is about $95,000. Assessments will total about $855,617 or 26.9 percent of the total project cost. The assessments will be figured according to the city’s assessment policy which was put into place in 2007.

Grabau estimated that residents would be assessed $60 to $65 per assessable frontage foot and about $1,100 to $1,200 per sanitary sewer service. The assessment policy allows for a minimum of 60 foot and a maximum of 150 foot to be assessed per property.

The expected start date for the construction project is May 2014 with a substantial completion date of October 2014 and a final completion date of June 2015.

The public asked a variety of questions. One man asked if there was a possibility to make Winona Street a dead end street. The street is a one-way and he said has seen it used as a two-way. Grabau said the possibility hadn’t been considered, adding they could look into it.

Grabau noted that it wasn’t legal for sump pumps to empty into the sewer service. He said no new sidewalk will be added and no existing sidewalk will be eliminated. Grabau clarified that the city will be replacing the utility in the right of way, but not between the right of way and one’s home which is private property.

Residents can opt to pay the assessments in full within 30 days after the final figures are available (assessment hearing toward the end of 2014) or put them on their property taxes and pay them over 10 to 15 years with interest. Interest will be one percent higher than what the city pays on the bond which is expected to be 3 to 3.5 percent.

A gentleman, formerly a resident of Bloomington, Minn. complimented the city for having a fair assessment policy.

City administrator Joe Hoffman said the project includes about two miles of improvements. This places the cost of reconstruction at about $1.5 million per mile. The annual bond payment is expected to be $111,000 per year. There will be property tax increases due to the cost of the project. Estimated increases due to the project will total 17 percent spread over several years.

The utility portion of $1.09 million will be funded with the utility fund requiring an annual payment of $91,000. This will cause a 20 percent increase in utility payments. A resident with a home valued at $75,000 with average utility use will experience a total increase in taxes and utility payments of about $190 (from $1,003 to $1,190). Hoffman maintained that even after completion of the project, Preston taxes and utility rates will be very competitive with neighboring communities.

The council adopted a resolution to waive local planning agency review and a resolution ordering the preparation of plans for the 2014 street and utility improvements. Hoffman noted this was a significant step, while it didn’t commit the city to the cost of the reconstruction, it did commit the city to the cost of preparing the plans and specifications. Both resolutions were approved by a unanimous vote.

Budget/Levy

Hoffman reported that insurance costs for 2014 will increase 11.3 percent. Anticipated sale and tax exemptions for 2014 were figured into the budget along with interest income. The city utility will reimburse the city for legal fees, about $3,000 per year.

A resolution to adopt the 2014 preliminary levy was approved. The levy increase that will affect the figures shown on property owner statements is 5.36 percent ($36,078). The 2014 proposed budget includes $21,000 for the Twenty-14 Project. Without that addition the levy increase would have been 2.24 percent. The preliminary levy is set at $708,803. The final levy to be set in December can be lowered, but not raised.

The final budget and levy meeting to allow the public to comment was set for Monday, December 2 at 6 p.m. at the city council chambers. If a continuation is needed, it would be held on December 16.

Other Business In Brief

•A variance was approved for Kurt Reicks as recommended by Planning and Zoning after a public hearing was held. Ordinance 155.182 limits the height of accessory buildings to 12 feet. Reicks asked for a variance to build an accessory building for private storage use to a height of 19.3 feet. There was no objection from neighboring property owners.

•Approval was given to formally transfer ownership of items donated for the National Trout Center prior to its tax exempt designation from the city to the NTC.

•Andy Bisek announced that the Lions Club agreed to donate $500 toward the purchase of four garbage cans. A motion to accept the donation and authorize the placement of a plaque recognizing the Lions Club on each of the cans was approved. The donation will pay for about one quarter of the cost for the garbage cans.

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