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Preston to start flood buyout program

Fri, Oct 24th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - The Preston City Council voted at their Monday, October 20 meeting, to begin the buyout of flood affected homes in South Preston along the Root River. City Administrator Joe Hoffman and councilman Robert Sauer recently ranked twelve properties in the floodway that would qualify for mitigation programs through FEMA and the DNR. Each of the property owners was sent a letter. Hoffman noted that three were very interested in the buy out possibility. The city can identify the most at risk properties, but property owners have to agree to participate.

The city expects it could buy out one property per year, as it will be responsible for 12% of the cost of purchase, demolition, and removal. Hoffman explained that the programs will be available as long as they are funded.

The council voted to start the process for the property at 106 Mill Street SE. This was the property ranked fourth as most at risk and where the owner was very interested in the buy out.

PPEA Requests

The city council some months ago decided to have a committee meet with the Preston Public Employees Association (PPEA) to hammer out an agreement for the 2009-2011 contract. The committee members were council members Heath Mensink and David Harrison and Ronald Schroeder from the Preston Public Utilities Commission.

The PPEA had detailed seven requests, but withdrew two that the committee would not agree to. Requests approved include a 3% cost of living increase for each year and five week vacation for employees cumulating over twenty years of employment with the city. Employees will also be able to receive health care at 100% their own cost from 62 until Medicare age with the city. It was stipulated that the extended coverage with the city is acceptable with the council, but that the city can't guarantee that the insurer will always allow this.

Mensink praised the committee process and the resulting open discussion as being very productive. The PPEA members agreed and thanked the council for the committee process.

The council accepted the agreed upon requests and the next step is to use them to draw up the contract.

2008 Street Improvements

The pay request for the work on Mill Street and St. Anthony Street was not approved at the last council meeting because of dissatisfaction with the wear course overlay. Brett Grabau, Bonestroo, said that the contractor has agreed to make it right. A revised pay request was approved holding back about $18,000 until the city is satisfied that it is properly fixed.

Charitable Gambling

A premise permit was approved to allow the Preston Fire Relief Association to conduct charitable gambling at the B & B Olympic Bowl. The association will take over the operation of the pull tabs in mid November.

Councilman Heath Mensink said that this is another step in the process. The council started the process about a year ago to get a local organization to operate the pull tabs so that the funds would be used mostly for local charities.

Other Business

• A resolution was approved for a No Parking Zone for Fridays between the hours of 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM on the north and south sides of North Street NE from the Pleasant Street intersection to 125 feet east. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety uses the street area for motorcycle road tests. Hoffman noted that residents on the street had been contacted and that there was no response.

• Mayor Kurt Reicks, who is the trail administrator for the Bluff Valley Riders Snowmobile Club, requested that the city have a marked trail through town. The club wants permission to run through the park and over city property. Reicks noted that the DNR has complained that there is not a marked trail from the east side to the west side of town.

Sauer asked about city ordinances. Hoffman said that speed by law would need to be limited below 20 mph. The proposed snowmobile trail route was approved as long as the Park Board which meets on Wednesday does not have an objection.

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