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City of Preston applies for Small Cities Rehabilitation Grant

Fri, Dec 5th, 2008
Posted in Government

Preston EDA Director Cathy Enerson representing Southeast Minnesota Development Corporation (SEMDC) gave a presentation on the rehab grant at the city council's December 2 meeting. City Administrator Joe Hoffman reported that the city has been invited to submit a full application for the grant along with Chatfield and Ostrander by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The grant would provide for commercial and rental housing rehabilitation. As required a public hearing was held regarding the application to the Minnesota Small Cities Development Grant Program (SCPD) for the grant funds. No citizens commented.

Resolutions authorizing the full application and a Cooperative Agreement were adopted. The city will act as a fiscal agent for the projects. Semcac and SEMDC will administer the projects and work with contractors and commercial and rental housing owners.

Housing Incentives

Cathy Enerson described a housing incentive program approved by the Preston EDA. It will work in partnership with the EDA, Preston Public Utilities, city government including the Park Board and the Tree Board, and the Preston Golf and Country Club. Three separate incentive areas include new construction, existing housing, and rehabilitation. Each of the three areas will allow for three applications or a total of nine applications in 2009.

The EDA has budgeted $4,800 plus administration costs for the nine incentives. The city is to contribute up to $270 to allow for the waiving of building permit fees. The partnership for the incentives hopes to add new customers for Utility, increase use of services in the community with "Preston Bucks," add jobs with the construction projects, increase tax revenue for the city, and provide energy savings for participants.

The housing incentive proposal was approved. Enerson noted that the Park Board and the Tree Board are the only entities left to approve the partnership proposal.

Truth in Taxation Hearing

City Administrator Joe Hoffman gave a brief summary of the 2009 budget. The total city budget is a little less than one half property tax levy, a little less than one half state aid, with the balance being made up of fees like pool admissions. Hoffman noted a large levy increase of 16.84%. However, the tax rate increase will be only 1.7% which is what most home owners will see on their property tax bills. The large addition to the tax base is made up by POET Biorefining with the expiration of their TIF.

Jim Simonson was the only citizen to speak at the hearing. Their property taxes had doubled. Hoffman noted that the increase was due to the county's assessment which doubled the market value of the Simonson building. Hoffman offered to meet with Jim and Rita Simonson and check with the county on the assigned market value.

Hazard Mitigation Plan

Hoffman summarized the plan to deal with hazards caused by natural, human caused or technological occurrences. He explained that the plan detailed goals, objectives, strategies, and provided for preparation to handle disasters. Hoffman indicated that the city is allowed to come up with its own plan. However, he maintained that the county plan was a good plan, well prepared with good information and good recommendations. He recommended that the city adopt the plan. The Fillmore County Board along with some other cities have already adopted the plan.

The council voted to adopt the plan. Hoffman noted that the plan needs to be in place to be eligible for FEMA mitigation funds for the city's flood buyout project.

Flood Buyout

Three resolutions were adopted to enable the city to do the flood mitigation buyout through Hazard Mitigation Assistance Programs for the home located at 106 Mill Street SE. City Attorney Dwight Luhmann has drafted a purchase agreement for the property for a total price of $31,300. FEMA will pay seventy-five percent, the DNR twelve and one half percent, and the city of Preston twelve and one half percent of total.

Special Assessment Hearing

Brett Grabau, Bonestroo, detailed the project costs of the 2008 Street and Utility Improvements including Chatfield Avenue, Industrial Drive, and St. Anthony/Mill Street. The total cost of the projects was $228,555.17. The assessed portion is $62,713.88 which is 27.45%. Grabau noted that the assessments are 40% for reconstruction, 0% for mill and overlays, and 50% for sidewalks.

There were no comments from the public at the hearing. However, Fillmore Central Schools had sent a letter in July questioning the apportionment of the assessments for the sidewalk along Chatfield Avenue. It was determined to assess the school district for 472 feet.

The assessment roll was adopted. Assessments can be paid over 10 years with an interest rate of 5.5%, within 30 days following the adoption of the assessment roll, or a combination of the two.

Other Business

Hoffman updated the council on the proposed zoning modification discussed at a public hearing at the Fillmore County Planning Commission on November 20. Several city officials including Hoffman spoke against the change. It would have allowed property within one half mile of a municipality in the Ag District to be used for commercial or industrial purposes other than agriculture with a Conditional Use Permit. Hoffman and others strongly opposed the modification which would not require a zoning change for a use other than agriculture.

Mr. Hoffman said that the commission unanimously voted to deny the modification. The Fillmore County Board voted to affirm the commission's decision at their December 2 meeting.

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