Preston City Council looks at possible improvement projects

By : 

The Preston City Council addressed several improvement and maintenance issues during its Monday, Sept. 17, meeting.

Public works director Jim Bakken stated that after researching the options for storm water improvements on Cottage Grove Avenue the best option would be to clean out and slope the south ditch to drain the water from west to east.

Bakken noted the best fix would be to pave the roadway, but because of the cost of such a project, he was not necessarily recommending that at this time.

An estimate was received from Ron Scheevel for $1,585 for the work. City crews will also load and haul the material during the cleanup.

The council approved the project.

2019 street maintenance

At the last meeting the council asked city staff to look into doing some smaller street maintenance projects in 2019.

Bakken identified several areas as candidates for mill and overlay projects including Chatfield Avenue at an estimated $160,000, Washington Street for $30,000, Park Lane for $40,000, Fire Hall parking lot for $15,000 and Cottage Grove Hill for $60,000.

According to City Administrator Joe Hoffman, the city has approximately $326,000 for street projects next year.

“These are all great options you can do all of it, none of it or pick and chose,” Bakken commented. “The longer we wait, the worse the streets are going to get and eventually they won't be good candidates for mill and lay, then it's a paving project and that cost is twice what a mill and overlay is.”

Council member Holly Zuck noted she would prefer to wait for a year in order to hear the recommendation from the local committee working on housing development and expansions. The committee is working to find three to four key areas within the city best suited for future residential growth.

The council tabled the item for further review.

2019 preliminary levy/budget

The council once again considered the 2019 preliminary levy.

Hoffman reminded the council this number can decrease as the group works on the city's budget, but it cannot increase.

After a quick discussion the council voted for a preliminary levy of $942,045, which is a five percent increase from last year.

This amount should give the city approximately an extra $23,000 for more potential street or unforeseen projects.

“This is the least increase I've seen in years. Obviously the staff is spending responsibly,” Mayor Kurt Reicks commented.

Sheriff’s candidate

Fillmore County Sheriff candidate John DeGeorge took a moment to address the Preston City Council The Rushford native has been with the Fillmore County Sheriff's department for 21 years and is currently the department Captain.

DeGeorge shared if elected he would focus on building relationships within the local communities by establishing an open connection with residents, government entities and organizations.

He noted he would like to create a crime prevention program with quarterly meetings to give the public information on ways to keep themselves safe.

Voters will be able to make their voices heard during the election held on Nov. 6.

Other business

• The council reviewed a variance request from C&G Properties owners Charles Aug and Gary Hellickson for a property at 312 Spring Street NE. The request was to convert a garage in the southwest corner of the property from an accessory building to a dwelling and a four-foot side setback where 15 feet is required by code and a 2.5-foot rear set back where 20 feet is required. The council voted to approve the request per Planning and Zoning's recommendation. If purchased, Aug and Hellickson plan to use the property as a seasonal rental.

• Several properties, 104 Spring Street NE, 105 Preston Street NW and 300 Cottage Grove Avenue, with ongoing weed complaints were reviewed by the council. All were found to be in violation of the city's ordinance. City staff will follow their process per the council's approval.

• The council approved the city's share for the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA) contract for their safety coordination services for the city and utilities for a cost of approximately $7,245.

• The next council meeting will be held on Oct. 1 at 6 p.m.