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Preston looking to cut $30,000 more

Fri, Feb 6th, 2009
Posted in Government

City Administrator Joe Hoffman offered options to the city council on how to re-budget for 2009 at their February 2 meeting. Hoffman noted that the expected cuts of Local Government Aid (LGA) from the state for this year creates an unusual situation. Budgets are usually developed and set as much as a half a year prior to needed expenditures. The LGA cuts are requiring cutbacks on budgets already being implemented.

Hoffman said that Governor Pawlenty's proposed cuts to LGA for Preston were not as bad as he had feared. The governor's proposal is for a 5 to 10-percent cut. It looks like the city will have about a $60,000 reduction in 2009 and another $65,000 in 2010. Hoffman noted that there will be another revenue forecast in March. The numbers are only a proposal as the legislature approves the state budget.

Hoffman remarked that the "easy and clean way" to come up with the additional $60,000 would be to take $60,000 from the Street Fund. That happens to be the figure that was added to the street fund budget due to the retirement of the Tax Increment Financing for POET Biorefining. The street fund is for construction and repair. Hoffman doesn't expect the city will be doing any large projects on streets until at least 2011. The council decided months ago to add the $60,000 to build the fund up so that the city could afford to do projects large enough to attract contractor bids.

Councilman Jon Haugan didn't want to see the Street Fund reduced to near zero. There is $120,000 in the fund now with $60,000 of that to go to last year's project. Councilman Robert Sauer agreed that $30,000 or so should be left in the fund to be added to future projects. The other $30,000 originally budgeted for the Street Fund would be used to offset the loss of LGA. Hoffman agreed to work with department heads to bring recommendations back to the council on possible additional cuts to make up the other $30,000 needed.

Historical Society

Richard Petsch updated the council on the activities and accomplishments of the Preston Historical Society (PHS) during 2008. He said that they developed a master plan for the elevator complex using a photo from 1916.

Tapes were transcribed to written word from tapes made in 1978. The master copies of the work are at the Fillmore County Historical Society in Fountain. Petsch said that 45 people from different working backgrounds had been interviewed. The PHS hopes to develop a book from the transcriptions and eventually put them on DVD's.

The Box Car was received in March, repaired over the summer, and dedicated at the elevator complex on October 11, 2008. The PHS has to take possession of a caboose by July. Petsch said that $5,000 is still owed on it and that there are no funds to renovate it at this time.

A request for an annual contribution of $3,000 from the city was discussed. Hoffman said that $3,000 had been budgeted for the 2009 budget. Petsch said that he understood the budgeting difficulty the council is facing. Council members decided to wait and see where the budget is in March before deciding on how much to contribute to the PHS. The council expects that there only will be a 10 to 20-percent reduction in the contribution. Hoffman remarked that here we are making cuts for requests already coming in.

A lawful gambling permit was approved for the PHS for a 'bingo' fund raiser on March 7.

Other Business

• Ellyn Fishbaugher's name was drawn in the Catch Savings in Preston drawing to win the energy star LCD TV. Hoffman commented that the participation with the inventory forms was over 50%. There are orders for about 15,000 energy saving light bulbs. They will be delivered door to door around April 22, Earth Day.

• Police Chief Matt Schultz requested and received approval to sell a 2003 Chevrolet Impala squad car to the Fillmore County Sheriff's department for $4,000. Schultz noted that in the past used squad cars have not brought this much. Hoffman explained that the new squad car replacing the 2003 car was ordered early last fall before the current budgeting difficulties.

• A lease was approved with T-Mobile, a wireless provider. Antennas will be placed on the Alltel tower. T-Mobile will lease about 300 square feet for $1,000 per year for the first five years to be paid in total up front. The lease will allow an option to renew for five more five year periods with the lease cost being adjusted prior to each five year period. T-Mobile will put several cabinets there to house their equipment.

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