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Preston adopts preliminary 2009 budget

Fri, Sep 5th, 2008
Posted in Government

City Administrator Joe Hoffman detailed nearly $21,000 in further budget reductions for 2009 at the council's September 3 meeting. Half of those cuts came from $11,000 less of an increase in health insurance premiums than expected. The total expected levy is to be $631,731 compared to $540,680 last year. The percentage change is 16.84%. However, Hoffman expects that 11 or 12% of that increase will come from POET Biorefining leaving a 5 or 6% increase for the rest of Preston property owners.

With the POET TIF being decertified starting with the 2009 tax year the council hopes to increase the street overlay budget by about $60,000 with the help of the widened tax base. The preliminary budget has to be set before September 15. Once set, it can be reduced but not raised before the final levy for 2009 is set in December.

Preston will hold its Truth In Taxation Hearing on Tuesday, December 2 and if a second meeting is necessary it will be held on Wednesday, December 17.

Flood Buyout

Joe Hoffman and Councilman Robert Sauer prioritized a list of properties that are located in the floodway, close to the river. At the council's meeting on August 25 Hazel Riehl had requested that the city buy out her home. FEMA and the DNR offer flood buyout programs. Seventy-five percent of the cost could be reimbursed by FEMA with the DNR paying fifty percent of the difference leaving the city responsible for twelve and one half percent.

Hoffman and Sauer created a list of properties that have the greatest risk. Riehl's property was not on the list because her property is located on the flood fringe and would not pose the greatest risk for future flood damage.

Joe Hoffman said that the next step is to contact the owners of the twelve listed properties. The owners would need to request the buyout. Hoffman expects that the city could afford to aid in the buyout of one property per year. He noted that none of the owners may be interested in a buyout. Two other properties included were HSBC Bank USA which has an acquisition in progress and Harmony Agri Services, Inc. which they listed as unlikely to be acquired. Properties need to have a demonstration of flood losses to be considered by FEMA.

Sauer maintained that properties in the floodway should not have new structures built, but building in the flood fringe could be appropriate with certain building practices. He suggested that the damning up of flood water could be reduced by less structures in the floodway. The council approved taking the next step to contact the twelve priority property owners. Hoffman noted that the removal of homes and returning these properties to green space would reduce the city's tax base.

Drainage Ditch

Joe Hoffman gave a history of the attempts to solve the problem of the drainage ditch and erosion resulting on the property of Dawson Grabau's property, since Ridge Road was reconstructed in 2003. There has been constant water running from a spring which has not allowed a sod cover to be maintained. Heavy rains have then washed a deep ditch to a pond on the Grabau property.

Hoffman said that the city has spent a few thousand dollars and 150 man hours in an attempt to solve the problem over the years. He said that they have created a funnel system to divert the spring water and to allow the area to dry out and hopefully maintain a sod cover.

Grabau requested that the city now fill in the ditch, seed it down with a straw blanket to restore the sod cover. Scheevel and Sons will do the work for a cost to the city of $4,250. The proposal from Scheevel and Sons was approved with the stipulation that the silt washed into the pond be removed to help fill the ditch.

No Parking Zone

The council approved the removal of the no parking zone signs on Washington Street that had been placed there to allow semi-trucks to access the Nursing Home which has since closed.

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