Preston City Council members, meeting April 2, broached the subject of capital improvement projects up through 2012. With the number of streets in bad condition, City Administrator Joe Hoffman said city residents could be looking at a fairly large increase in taxes in the future.

But first, he suggested the city might hire the Stantec Consulting Services company - formerly Bonestroo - to do an inspection and evaluation of the city streets. They would use a standard rating system called PACER. Engineer Brett Grabau from Stantec said in a written proposal that then results would be tabulated for the pavement rating, curb rating, location, pavement area and suggested rehabilitation method for that particular pavement. Estimated construction and maintenance costs will be provided, which would allow the city to utilize it when figuring out the capital improvement plan.

The plan also would include utility evaluation, mapping to show the pavement ratings and, finally, a full report.

This engineering report would cost $7,500. Hoffman suggested negotiating with Preston Public Utilities to have the city pay two-thirds and PPU one-third. City council members decided to look at information and talk further about it, possibly taking action at the next council meeting.

Hoffman also suggested hiring Mike Bubany as a consultant on an hourly fee to see how the city might afford to fund upcoming projects.

Hoffman noted that in researching a capital improvement plan for Harmony, he'd talked to 15 communities. Preston's water and sewer rates are 20 percent lower than any of those other communities, stated Hoffman.

"It reflects you're ready to do it, but you've put it off. Just think.. even if you're raising the rates 20 percent, you'd still be the lowest rates in the area."

Street projects are funded by property taxes, with part coming from assessments of the properties adjacent to the improvements and from which they benefit.