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Preston tennis court nears completion


Fri, Aug 29th, 2008
Posted in Government

Treasurer Chuck Aug of the Preston Area Community Foundation presented checks to the Preston City Council totaling over $70,000 at the city council's August 25 meeting be used for the city's tennis court project. He explained that $25,000 was an outright grant from the organization and $22,000 was from area donations which was then matched by the foundation.

Aug noted that donations were in amounts from $5 to $5,000. The $5,000 donors included POET, F & M Bank and the Joerg Law Office. He said that the foundation would match up to a total of $25,000 and appealed for more donations from the public that could be matched. The foundation has helped with other community projects including children playground equipment.

Mayor Pro-tem Heath Mensink, filling in for the absent Kurt Reicks, thanked the foundation, the volunteer effort and the tennis court committee members.

Brett Grabau of Bonestroo detailed payment requests for the tennis court construction which were approved. He added that Rochester Sand and Gravel had put an additional inch over the courts at their own expense to meet specifications. The fence contractor scuffed the bituminous while putting up the fence. The damage will be repaired while the final marking, nets and final surface work is completed. The fence contractor will be held responsible for any extra charges to correct the damage. Grabau expects the court to be ready for use by the end of the first week of September.

Flood Related Items

• Grabau explained that FEMA has agreed to pay for some restructuring of River Street from St. Paul Street to St. Anthony Street which sustained damage from June flooding. FEMA money available will be about $40,000. FEMA will not pay for curb and gutter or storm water work. The council approved a resolution directing Bonestroo to do a feasibility study.

• Smaller projects may also be funded by FEMA for repair which mostly would involve bull dozer work, riprap and seeding near the bike trail under the County 17 bridge and the County 12 East Bridge. City Administrator Joe Hoffman said that FEMA would cover 90% of the cost. The council approved an authorization to obtain quotes for the work.

• Hoffman advised the council on a flood buy out request submitted by Hazel Riehl. Riehl has asked the city to make an offer on her home using FEMA's flood mitigation program. He explained that FEMA does buyouts along with the DNR which together have programs which would pay 87.5% of the cost of purchase and remove a home that qualifies by a location where there is a great loss risk due to flooding and that can demonstrate flood losses. In this case Hoffman estimates that the city would be responsible for about $7,500 of the cost.

If the home were to be bought out and removed the area would become 'green space.' Hoffman noted that the city would suffer a loss in its tax base with the removal of a residence. Councilman Robert Sauer suggested that they should look at the number of homes that could qualify. He added that the owners would need to make the request. Hoffman and Sauer will look at the number of home owners that could make this kind of request and prioritize the risk. They will report back to the council before making a decision on Riehl's offer. There was a concern as to the potential cost to the city for their percent of the buyout cost.

Budget

Joe Hoffman summarized the first draft of the city's 2009 budget. On the revenue side the city will get an increase of $15,000 from the state in Local Government Aid. On the expense side $45,000 is anticipated as an increase due to employee cost of living increases and health insurance increases. An increase of $60,000 in street overlay spending is expected to be covered with the new infusion of revenue to the city's tax base with the retirement of the POET Biorefining TIF.

Hoffman suggested that the actual individual property tax for residents may not increase because of the 5 to 10% increase to the tax base. The actual increase in the first draft is 20.74%, with 11% expected to be offset by POET. This leaves a 9.74% increase which Hoffman recommended be whittled down to about 5%. By consensus the council directed Hoffman to ask the department heads to make cuts that would cut the budget by an additional $25,000.

Other Business

• Police Chief Matt Schultz recommended and received approval to sell three forfeited vehicles with the sale monies going partly to the prosecuting attorney's office and mostly to the police forfeiture fund which is used to make police equipment purchases.

• Schultz requested and received approval to sell the department's 2003 Chevrolet Impala and to replace it with a 2009 Chevrolet Impala through the state bid for about $16,485.

• Joe Hoffman explained that the Southeastern Minnesota Development Corporation and SEMCAC, who together will be the sponsors, have asked the city to approve the submission of an application for a three city Small Cities Grant. The cities include Preston, Chatfield and Ostrander. Preston would be seeking the grant for four commercial and four residential rehabilitation projects. The submission of the application was approved.

• Main Street will be closed on Saturday, October 4 from 8:00 a.m. to about 1:00 p.m for a children's health fair.

• A request by Sandy and Erlyn Marzolf to have No Parking zone signs removed was discussed. The reason for the zone had been to allow truck service to the now closed Nursing Home. Hoffman said that a resolution for the removal will be drawn up for the next meeting.

• Preston City Council meetings for the months of September and October in 2008 will be moved to Wednesday nights of the weeks they would normally be held. The meetings will be on September 3 and 17 and October 8 and 22. The September 17 meeting will be moved up to 5:30 PM.

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