Preston City Attorney Dwight Luhmann discussed proposed updates to a purchase agreement for the Dairy & Farm property at the February 5 meeting.
Originally, the proposed purchase price was $100,000. Dairy & Farm now wants $115,000 for the property; the additional funds requested are to help pay for the remediation, clean-up of the property. The city wants Dairy & Farm to be responsible for any necessary clean-up even after closing. This could include a significant amount of soil removal and disposal, which is located under the concrete where the fertilizer building once stood.
The buyer/city wants to be reimbursed in the event that Dairy & Farm receives reimbursement for some of their remediation expenses. Dairy & Farm will need to apply for funds from an account funded by surcharges on fertilizers and pesticides from manufacturer to dealer.
Closing date in the agreement is to be February 28. The updated purchase agreement was approved.
Councilman Robert Maust explained the Preston Historical Society would like to use the existing west building on the Dairy & Farm property. The Historical Society would do necessary improvements. Mayor Kurt Reicks expressed concern that once the Historical Society puts funds into the building, they may not want it razed three to five or more years down the road when the city is ready to build a community building on this property. Maust suggested Tourism could also be in the building.
Councilwoman Holly Zuck maintained that Tourism needs a presence along the highway. Maust said the Historical Society has stuff in storage that can not be displayed because there is no place to display it. Reicks suggested we buy the property, clean it up, and have it for the future. Zuck agreed. She would like to learn what people in the community want and how much they would support a community center.
Doherty land purchase
City Engineer Brett Grabau addressed the council and explained the preliminary site layout showing where the road access could be should this 15-acre property be purchased and become the future site of a veterans home. About 9.5 acres on top is being tilled now and is the proposed site for the sprawling building.
The option the city holds to purchase the property is up soon. Reicks insisted we need some answers to some questions before we decide what to do. He added the veterans home would be an ideal project and he would love to see it here.
Maust said the EDA recommended that the land be purchased. Zuck said she would love to see the veterans home here, but questioned whether the property would be usable for something else if the city didn’t get the veterans home. Maust believes it is slowing down the project not knowing the location of a future veterans home within the county.
Luhmann said he would check with Robert Doherty to see if the option could be extended.
Other business in brief
• Fire Chief Josh Ristau and Dustin Arndt updated the council on what the fire department did over the past year. Arndt asked the council to approve a $100 increase in the per year service retirement amount to $1,700 per year. The last increase of $100 was two years ago. The city and township put $2,000 each annually into the Relief Association fund. The increase will not cost the city anything more at this time. It could at some point if the market drops significantly. The increase was approved.
• Police Chief Matt Schultz explained that the 2011 Impala is due for replacement. He suggested replacing it with a full size 2018 Dodge Ram 4×4 pick-up at a cost of $27,450. Another $2,650 will be needed for graphics, equipment, and lights. There is about $42,000 in the police vehicle fund. The purchase was approved.
• Ambulance write-offs in the amount of $83,773.77 for 2017 and $9,901.96 for 2016 were approved. The write-offs represent the funding gap between the ambulance rates and what insurance will reimburse for a call. Uncollected accounts in the amount of $4,001.51 for 2016 were written off. The city can still pursue collection of these debts.
• Fire department write-offs in the amount of $600 of uncollected accounts were approved. The city can pursue collection, but acknowledges that it is unlikely to collect.
• A donation of $100 was given to the Post Prom Committee.