Preston's city council listens as S&S Sanitation owner Tony Severson presents a new garbage collection contract.
Preston's city council listens as S&S Sanitation owner Tony Severson presents a new garbage collection contract.
Preston's city council accepted the city's preliminary 2013 budget and levy during its first meeting of the month, held Sept. 4, delayed a day due to the Monday Labor Day holiday.

During the previous city council meeting, members directed city staff to maintain the preliminary levy increase at less than 3 percent.

The proposed maximum budget is $672,725, or an increase of $19,496, equivalent to 2.98 percent, which will have a tax impact of approximately $20 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Health insurance costs for city employees were expected to rise by 15 percent, but the council was pleased to see that costs grew by only 7 percent, offering some relief.

Mayor Kurt Reicks reminded the council, "You can decrease the final budget, but you can't add any more." The final budget is set to be approved by Dec. 31.

Councilman David Collett questioned the allotment given the National Trout Center and whether the investment was working hard enough.

Council member Kay Spangler countered, "The city has invested in the National Trout Center for the past three years," and the "reason the National Trout board decided to increase their request is because without a full-time person, they can't move forward."

She also pointed out, "They've had a part-time person for the past two years, and that person spends all their time on program development."

City Administrator Joe Hoffman noted the city should ask, in person, for the center's revenue sheets, and Spangler added the purchase of property along the river is "an investment."

"The purchase of property along the river has been a goal, and it's an investment. While it may not seem to be, it is a financial investment for recreational enjoyment. It makes the city more attractive," she said.

The council came to an agreement that the preliminary budget and levy were satisfactory. Final budget and levy approval is set for Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 6:05 p.m. in the Preston city council chambers, with a continuation date set for Dec. 17.

Waste collection contract

Tony Severson of S&S Sanitation appeared before the council to present a new waste collection contract, as the current five-year garbage contract will expire at the end of the year.

He asked the council to approve a .5 percent increase in each year of the new contract, slated for 2013 through 2017. That incurs a 10-cent increase per month from $19.67 to $19.77. Also, Severson proposed increasing the senior citizen discount from $1 per month to $2 per month.

Councilors inquired as to whether many senior residents are aware of the discount, and Severson answered that he reviews the list with city staff periodically to alert eligible customers.

Sirens

The city is in the process of updating its four civil defense sirens, as the sirens are affected by the narrow-banding requirement that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2013.

The sirens receive a relayed signal from the Fillmore County sheriff's office and are activated when the signal is received. Two of the sirens need to be upgraded - the city has been setting funds aside for the project as part of the 2012 budget and will include the same sum of $2,500 in the 2013 budget, with no further allocations planned.

Whitewater Wireless will update the sirens at a cost of $5,500.

The consent agenda included granting Preston's continued membership in the League of Minnesota Cities at a cost of $1,325, an increase of 3.5 percent.