“When I saw it was cut in half it got my attention,” exclaimed Preston resident Carole Bond during the Preston City Council public hearing on Aug. 20.

The hearing was held in regard to the proposed vacation of Winona Street near the Bond and Kneeskern properties on the 500 block of Winona Street.

It was during the previous meeting that the council learned of an error dating back to the 1950s when the lots were surveyed from the west instead of the east, which is the generally accepted practice.

This in turn created more land on paper than can actually be owned and it appeared that Winona Street, as it exists, sits primarily on lot 5, which is owned by Bond, while a portion of the Kneeskern house sits on city land.

After the meeting the city had the properties surveyed and developed a plan to vacate the street and execute several quit-claim deeds to fix the situation.

“Twenty feet of the street was vacated in 1957, so 46 feet remains.  Of that 46 feet, 13 feet would go to the property to the west (the Kneeskern property) and 33 feet would go to the property to the east (the Bond property),” Hoffman began.

Representing Bond, Scott Springer, of Springer and Gumbel Law offices, addressed the council.

“You look at what Carole Bond owns when she had lots three, four and five, which is approximately 20,000 square feet.  With what she has lost of that legal description it is about half of that at 9,900 square feet.”

He asked the council to consider a curb-to-curb line in order to allow Bond to keep as much of her lots as possible, because her home will now be appraised for half of what she thought she owned.

“It is real when you’re paying taxes on it,” Bond remarked. “What I thought and what it is are two different stories now. I didn’t know; I didn’t walk it off and I’ve been there for 27 years.”

“That is the real travesty here, is that she has been paying too much in taxes for all those years,” Springer added.

Hoffman explained while normally the city keeps a 66-foot right-of-way for maintenance needs after surveying it became clear they could feasibly only mark it for 46 feet. After much discussion, the council offered to bring the line to within one foot of the curb.

Bond verbally accepted the terms and the council approved the resolution to vacate the street pending the signing of the quit-claim deeds.

2015 budget review

As the council moved forward with their regular meeting they reviewed the “discussion draft” of the 2015 budget.

According to Hoffman the proposed local government aid (LGA) allotment for 2015 is $495,888 and, as the draft stands, currently there is a 14.27 percent tax levy increase.

The preliminary amounts include: an increase of nearly $10,000 for the tourism department though much of this has revenue to off-set the increase and more being covered by the Preston Chamber of Commerce; $1,000 for health and wellness; $2,000 in tree expense to replace the trees removed during the Twenty-14 Street Project; and $3,800 for summer rec, along with several smaller increases.

The city will be seeing a $4,000 decrease in legal fees as Preston Public Utilities has agreed to pay 25 percent of the retainer.

The council agreed they would like to see the percentage of the tax levy increase be closer to only 7 percent, so the city staff will prepare a revised budget for the next meeting as the preliminary levy must be adopted by Sept. 15.

Preston Methodist Church parking lot

The Preston United Methodist Church is planning to patch and seal coat its parking lot this fall and requested a cost share for the portion of patching required over a city storm water main.

Speaking on behalf of the church board, council member Robert Maust said, “In that area the blacktop is broke up and we have hired Rochester Asphalt and Concrete to fix the area.”

The total estimate for the patch is $2,745.

An amount of $1,000 was approved by the council to give toward the repairs with Maust abstaining.

Lighting for south welcome sign

At the request of Maust, the city staff explored possible ways to get electricity to the south welcome sign.

Currently, there is no lighting for the sign, though at one time there was a solar light, but it provided insufficient lighting.

The staff received an estimate of $11,952.71 including materials, labor and electrician costs.

Public Utilities agreed to provide the labor and equipment time leaving the remaining balance of $8,500 for the city.

It was quickly decided the cost was too high for bringing just a single light to the sign.

Instead, the council and city staff will continue to request replacement signs from the Minnesota Department of Transportation since the previous signs were removed during the Highway 52 project. The city’s earlier requests were denied by MnDOT.

Other business

• The council approved the renewal of the city’s property, liability and workers compensation insurance through the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT).  It also chose to not waive the monetary limits on municipal tort liability.

• The third payment request for the Twenty-14 Project was approved, totaling $365,525.94 for the north project and $280,385.85 for the south project.

The next council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 6 p.m.