Preston council approves contract with
firm developing city's comprehensive plan
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 3:08 AM
Preston's city administrator, Joe Hoffman, introduced proposals for the city's new comprehensive plan during the Preston City Council meeting, held Monday, June 17.
Hoffman said the Planning and Zoning Commission planned to have a new plan created every 10 years, but that city-wide budget cuts had led to the postponement of it in 2009. In 2012, the commission had asked the city to budget for a new plan in 2013.
This past spring, the city had put out a request for proposals. The comprehensive plan, as Hoffman explained, is a document with maps and comments about future uses of city land. It specifies how the city can progress as it relates to land development.
"It's kind of that overarching plan that guides growth," shared Hoffman, stressing that the public is very influential in how the comprehensive plan is put together.
Councilman Robert Maust asked if the plan encompasses just the existing city boundaries. Hoffman said it could look beyond the city even though it may not mean growth may occur beyond the city.
The city had received eight bids, conducted phone interviews, and the committee suggested the city contract the services of McGhie & Betts. Kristi Clarke, representing McGhie & Betts, told the council that the firm has been around southeastern Minnesota for 67 years.
"I believe it's key that we work with the communities. If we don't, we are left with not really knowing what the community wanted," Clarke explained.
She showed the council what the full size maps would look like. Clark also said there would be three workshops to be conducted with Planning and Zoning and other appointed members to work on the land use plan. New and updateable zoning and land use maps would also be created. Clarke said this should be completed and approved by March.
McGhie & Betts was approved by the council to begin work on the comprehensive plan.
The city's 2012 audit was presented by Pam Ristau, CPA, who gave the city an unqualified opinion, which means the city is in full compliance.
She noted that last year was a construction year, but the city had all the bonding in place.
The city's net assets exceeded its liabilities by $10,489,001. This reflected a total increase by $77,308 in 2012. The city's governmental funds, which include fund balances for the general, special revenue, debt service and capital project funds, ended at $1,779,593.
Ristau reported that around 78 percent of this was available for the city's use within their designations and policies.
The unreserved balance for the general fund finished at $838,873 or 87 percent of the total general fund expenditures.
Ristau explained that the city didn't have any significant problems in the audit and that they are staying on level with years past.
Garbage receptacles needed
The need for garbage cans for downtown Preston was discussed by the council and city employee Jim Bakken. Possible locations were highlighted and Bakken suggested the city purchase four or five.
Bakken also came back with quotes from several vendors for cans that could be bolted to the sidewalk. Hoffman said the Lion's Club and other organizations were interested in putting up funds for the cans if they could put a placard on it.
Mayor Kurt Reicks said he preferred to have the cans made locally. The estimated $2,400 cost would come out of the reserve contingency fund.
Family fun night
Information on Family Fun Night was given by Trisha Keating. She said more businesses and people will be helping this year. For the music and entertainment, Keating suggested it all move to the Main Street area to improve safety.
The Fun Night program is in its second year and Keating said there were problems last year with kids running around without adults.
The next Family Fun Night dates are July 11 and Aug. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. each night. The council approved the closure of the business section of Main Street for those times.
Sheila Craig from the Preston Historical Society (PHS) requested funding from the city and asked the city to proclaim July as History Month in Preston. She explained PHS was in the midst of a membership drive.
Hoffman asked about the bagging shed and scalehouse project to which Sheila explained that they were still waiting for the architect and the Minnesota State Historical Society (MSHS) to agree on the design.
Maust said PHS had all the money for the design.
PHS President Dick Petsch said once the final architect drawings are completed they will consider the restrictions MSHS will place on the building.
The council approved the $2,500 budgeted funding for the PHS and the proclamation. Hoffman commented on how well the PHS manages with the funds they are given.
In other news
In other matters, the council discussed the following issues.
Hoffman let the council know that Preston was awarded a Small Cities Grant of around $471,000. The money will be used by the Bluff Country Housing and Redevelopment Authority to renovate Vesterheim apartments and 15 owner occupied rehabilitation projects.
The council approved councilman Dave Collett to attend training for the board of appeal and equalization. Hoffman suggested they have two members train.
Several walls in the city hall building were not painted during the last remodel. The council approved the painting of the needed walls.
Reicks brought up an idea to have a special meeting with the National Trout Center in order to discuss the budget and future funding for them. Maust said the NTC's board of directors should be in attendance. Reicks agreed saying the meeting would be important for the future of the NTC. The meeting was set for June 25 at 6 p.m.