Prior to its regular meeting on Monday, April 17, the Preston City Council held its annual Board of Appeal and Equalization, which provides an opportunity for local business owners and residents to address the council and Fillmore County property appraiser Brian Hoff about the assessed value of their property.

Hoff reported while tillable values did not change within the county, non-tillable land increased 20 percent.

The house rate for Preston increased by one dollar to $56 per square foot. The levy saw a 4.672 increase to 156.666.

Preston’s total assessed value increased 3.84 percent from $71,076,500 to $73,808,400 for 2017.

Hoff then reviewed two properties with the council.

“The first is the old gas station down at the B&B Bowling Alley,” Hoff explained. “When they took off the building after the fire they subsequently decided to take down part of the old gas station building. We did discover after reviewing it that the old part of the building was never taken off the tax records.”

This would reduce the evaluation by $17,600.

The council approved the reduction.

The next property was the parcel at 312 Spring Street NE.

“The question has been raised about homestead status,” Hoff said. “Currently, there is a building that is half garage and there are quarters there where someone could probably stay there. According to Public Utilities, there currently is no water hook up and there is minimal electric use.”

Hoff gave the council three options to handle the issue. First, they could change the property to a non-homestead sight. Second, they could change it to a seasonal recreational property. Third, would be to take no action and let the county continue to handle it.

After much discussion, the council voted to remove the property’s homestead status.

City hall project update

After the regular meeting was opened, the council focused on the city hall project, including a proposed new permanent ladder.

“We do not have a roof access on city hall; we don’t’ have one internally or externally,” said Public Works director Jim Bakken. “The only way to get to the roof is to bring the utilities bucket truck down here and set it up on the street sidewalk or we set up an extension ladder, climb up and try not to fall off.”

Staff needs to access the roof at least six times a year to check and maintain equipment, so Bakken asked the council to consider adding a permanent ladder to the southwest corner of the building.

Bakken received a quote of $4,880 from T.D. Fetterly of Spring Valley, who previously added a similar ladder to the Preston power plant.

The ladder will be partially closed for safety and has a door that can be locked when not in use.

“I know it is a lot of money for a ladder, but without one we are tying up a bucket truck for the utility guys...with the exception of that it is the stepladder. It’s not the safest thing and if someone was to fall and get hurt this is probably little to nothing of what the work comp would be,” Bakken commented.

The council approved the permanent ladder addition.

This will be put on as part of the city hall project, which is in full swing.

City Administrator Joe Hoffman reported the EFIS work has begun with the foam insulation already being applied.

“The next step that we’re waiting for is the sign company to come in and install brackets to hold the mural. We’re hoping that will happen this week. At that point, the EFIS company would do their first coat of stucco with some mesh and a finish coat following that. Then, the scaffolding will come down and the canopy company can start working, as well,” Hoffman said.

The roofing company is also hard at work and, according to Hoffman, have already found rotten boards, which are being replaced.

The changes happening outside will affect, minimally, the interior of city hall, as well.

Hoffman noted that some of the upper front windows were covered as part of the project, so the council will need to determine what they would like to do on the inside in those areas. Currently, the inside of those windows are covered with plywood.

Since this is not an urgent matter, the council decided to table the item, so they can come up with more ideas.

Trout Days street closures

The list of Trout Days street closures, primarily for Saturday, May 20, was reviewed and approved by the council.

The list includes County 12 from Houston Street to St. Anthony Street from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for Fillmore Street family activities.

County 17 from Highway 52 to River Street from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. for the grand parade.

County 17 from Main Street to River Street from 9 a.m. on Saturday to 2 a.m. on Sunday, May 21, for the Preston Servicemen’s Club street dance.

The east and west parking lots at the Fillmore County Courthouse from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for Fillmore Street family activities.

Main Street from St. Anthony Street to Houston Street from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the car show.

The alley adjacent to the National Trout Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the alley and parking lot adjacent to the Servicemen’s Club from 12 p.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday, May 21, for the street dance.

Other business

• The council approved, with Robert Maust abstaining, the hiring of Justin Ristau for summer help.

• After discussing possible new developments on North and Center Streets, the council voted to have Mike Bubany discuss a Capital Finance Plan for the city. With this information, the council hopes to be able to better plan financially for future projects.

• The next meeting will be held on May 1 at 6 p.m.