Most of the regular Preston City Council meeting on Sept. 3 was spent in the public hearing for the 2014 Street and Utility Improvement Project. The story detailing that meeting can also be found in this issue of the Republican-Leader.

Two resolutions were considered in relation to the street project. The first concerned the waiving of review from a local planning agency for the 2014 project. State statute requires that assessments involved in projects like the 2014 project either get sent through to a local planning agency for a review or the review gets waived because it doesn't relate to a city's comprehensive plan.

Preston's project deals with improving old roads and utilities in already developed neighborhoods for the same purpose. City Administrator Joe Hoffman said the case would be different if Preston was creating a new development or converting an old place for a different purpose.

The second resolution ordered improvement and preparation of plans for the 2014 project. According to Hoffman, the resolution outlines the improvements and certified that notices were mailed and published for the hearing, that the hearing was held, that the improvement is necessary, cost effective, and feasible according to the feasibility report, and that the plans and specifications of the project have been approved.

The city also plans on reimbursing itself through bonds.

Hoffman said the step wasn't going to take the city past the "point of no return," but that it would obligate the city to have plans and specs drawn up.

The council passed both resolutions.

2014 budget

A few additional clarifications on the 2014 budget were reported on. Hoffman said most of the changes were in health insurance which came in at an 11.3 percent increase. He clarified a mistake in reporting at the previous city council which had informed the public that the city had budgeted for a 15 percent increase, when in reality they had budgeted for a 10 percent increase.

Adjustments were made to the sales tax exemptions as well.

Due to a new cost-share with the public utility, they will be reimbursing the city at $3,000 per year for legal fees. The interest income was decreased from $12,000 to $3,000.

Overall, expenses and income were decreased by $5,800 resulting in a proposed levy that is at a 5.36 percent increase from what it was last year. More than half of that increase resulted from the 2014 project. A home valued at $75,000 would see an increase of $24 a year.

Councilmember Robert Maust stated that approving the proposed levy would set the maximum and the city could always go below that. The council accepted the resolution to adopt the preliminary levy.

The council also set the budget discussion meeting for Monday, Dec. 2, at 6 p.m. with a continuation meeting at the Monday, Dec. 16, regular city council meeting at 6 p.m.

The final levy approval will be made during that meeting.

Property variance

Hoffman reported on a request that had been received through the Planning and Zoning Commission from Kurt Reicks for a variance on property. The landowner is looking to make an addition that will be used for private use. The variance would allow the height of the building to exceed the 12-foot city code. Accessory buildings must be consistent with Rural Residential zoning, have a lot size of 1.5 acres, and have a steel building already on the property. The building peak will be lower than the road that runs along it to the south.

In other business

• The city approved the transfer of ownership of donated items intended for the National Trout Center to the NTC. The items included books, exhibits, gear and other donations.

• A raffle permit application for the Fire Department to hold a raffle on Sept. 21, was approved.

• The Lions' Club of Preston donated $500 for the new downtown garbage cans with the approval to have the Lions' Club place vinyl signage on the cans.