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Fragmented support for NTC’s request to get state bonding

Fri, Mar 7th, 2014
Posted in Preston Government

A resolution was adopted at the Preston City Council’s March 3 meeting to reaffirm its support of the National Trout Center (NTC) building project.

In 2012 a unanimous resolution was approved stating that the City of Preston will serve as the fiscal agent for the bonding requested from the state for the NTC. A resolution to reaffirm this support and stating that the NTC “will create a significant and positive impact on the local economy and general welfare of the city, the region, and the state of Minnesota” was approved with a simple majority. Councilmen David Collett and Robert Maust voted nay.

The resolution of support is to be taken to the state legislature in an effort to be included in the 2014 state bonding bill. The NTC is requesting $3.5 million to be used to acquire the site, to complete any necessary demolition and preparation of the site, and to build the NTC facility.

City Administrator Joe Hoffman explained that the city, as the fiscal agent, would receive the funding and see to the construction of the building. The city would own the building and the property it sits on. The city would have no fiscal responsibility in the acquisition of the land, preparation of the site, or the construction of the facility.

Councilmen David Collett and Robert Maust were concerned about the ability of the NTC to support itself in its day to day operations once the facility is built. Maust insisted that the NTC hasn’t shown us how they could operate and maintain the NTC. He stated that they need to have a plan to support it once it is built. Maust was concerned about all the “unknowns,” adding that he didn’t believe the NTC had the financial support or the ability to raise money to maintain and operate a project of this size.

Dwight Luhmann, City Attorney and Chairman of the Preston EDA, noted that a feasibility study had been done. He also agreed that fund raising is an issue.

Mayor Kurt Reicks responded that in his opinion this is a way to move forward, to acquire the property and to build the facility.

Councilmen David Harrison and Charles Sparks voted yea and David Collett and Robert Maust voted nay. Reicks broke the tie with a yea vote, adopting the resolution.

Other Business In Brief

•Jim Bakken, Public Works, explained that the 1996 Elgin Pelican street sweeper was purchased in 2008. It has been a good piece of machinery, but it is in need of maintenance. The council approved the repairs, which in the worst case scenario will cost about $7,000 ($5,000 for parts and $2,000 for labor).

•Approval was given to advertise for summer help. The city and utility each hire one summer employee to help with general maintenance work like mowing, painting curbs, watering flowers and filling pot holes. The payroll for the city’s employee is about $5,000.

•A thank-you ad for those who volunteer for the city will be published the week of April 9 in the News-Record, Republican Leader and the Spring Valley Tribune. The add will cost $139.

•A no parking zone that was established in 2008 on North Street on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to allow for DVS motorcycle testing was discussed. The DVS considers the area too small for motorcycle testing and hasn’t tested there for a couple of years. Once city staff gets confirmation from the DVS that they no longer will use this area, the council will consider the possibility of removing the no parking zone.

•Hoffman and Councilman David Harrison attended the League of Minnesota Cities legislative conference late in February. They met with local legislators and attended hearings. Issues discussed included integrating junior and senior high school curriculum with early college programs, possible alternatives to assessments for street improvements, sales tax exemption limits, and the use of a government unit’s website as an alternative option to newspapers for publishing public notices.

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