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Bond rating upgrade for Preston


Fri, Dec 6th, 2013
Posted in Preston Government

City administrator Joe Hoffman announced good news for the city at the council’s December 3 meeting. Standard and Poors in a random review raised the city’s bond rating from AA- to AA (stable).

This is especially good news as the city is planning a large street improvement project. Hoffman noted that the city could pay 0.15 to 0.20 percent less interest on bonds in 2014. Over a 15 year period the better rate could save the city $40,000 to $50,000.

Some of the reasons given by S & P to support the upgrade included a strong budgetary flexibility (reserves at 85 percent of expenditures), strong liquidity, and a strong debt profile.

2014 Budget and Levy review

Hoffman reported that the 2014 levy will increase by 5.3 percent or $36,078. The total levy will be $708,803. $21,000 of that increase will be related to new bond costs. Without the bonding costs for the street improvement project the levy increase would have been 2.2 percent.

Hoffman warned that while the 5.3 percent increase is higher than we wanted to be, property owners will continue to see increases in years going forward to pay for the street projects.

The city’s revenue comes from the tax levy (44 percent), state aid (30 percent), police and fire revenue (11 percent), library, park and tourism (6 percent), and other revenue (9 percent).

No residents were present to comment during the public comment portion. Hoffman noted that most homeowners saw a reduction in the market value of their home and a corresponding reduction in their property taxes. Tax increases largely impacted industrial and Agricultural properties. The total tax rate for the city was up 16 percent even with declining property tax bills for most homeowners.

Councilman Robert Maust asked what portion of the total levy comes from residential compared to business and Agriculture. Hoffman said he will get that break down for the council. The budget and levy will be brought back next meeting for final approval.

Other Business In Brief

•Ambulance Director Ryan Throckmorton reported that the ambulance service’s B-rig had another engine failure on November 20. The 2006 Ford was scheduled to be replaced in 2016. Throckmorton said repairs could cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. The motor has had problems previously and the vehicle has just 77,000 miles on it.

Throckmorton reviewed several possibilities for replacement. After a long discussion the council approved the purchase of an AEV (F-450, 4X4) that should be available in February for approximately $150,000 with trade. A second motion was made to have Throckmorton get more information on the cost to repair the ailing AEV and also the cost to lease an AEV until February. In the meantime the city has one working ambulance. Surrounding communities could be called on for aid if the service has more than one emergency call.

•Robert Doherty had requested the rezoning of eight or nine acres north of Preston near the intersection of Highways 16 and 52. Planning and Zoning recommended approval to rezone the property from B-2 (highway-business) to I-1 (industrial). There was no comment at the P & Z public hearing. The council unanimously approved the rezoning request.

•Tim Johnston, owner of the Brownsville Mobile Home Park, and Kerry Soiney, neighbor across from the mobile home park, both attended the meeting. They said they had a long talk and had come to an agreement as to how to screen the mobile home park. The mobile home park will be screened with a combination of lattice, trees, and shrubs. They also agreed on the financing of the work. Soiney thanked the council and Johnston for his willingness to help.

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Hoffman Stables