The Preston City Council voted at its July 13 meeting to sell the 5.5 acres on which the rodeo arena is built, to the county for $125,000.

For over 50 years, there’s been a three-part lease between Preston City, Franklin County and That Famous Preston Night Rodeo. The lease is up for renewal and county officials requested to purchase it. Although the rodeo committee wanted the property as well, the city elected to sell it to the county because it is a public entity, and because the county runs fair activities out of the arena, said Mayor Dan Keller.

“One landlord is better than two,” he said. However, the city is maintaining a first option to repurchase the land if the county ever decides to sell it.

“This has been in discussion for a long time,” said the mayor. The property includes the arena, the Fairly-Nice Shelter, and the property south of the arena to the street. It does not include the new restroom constructed south of the arena or any portion of the park to the east of the arena.

The city expects the sale to improve opportunities for the rodeo committee to raise funds for expanding the arena. “This multi-part lease was an impediment to them. Hopefully, this will make it easier to expand or rebuild for them,” he said.

In other business, the city council voted to accept a Coronavirus State Property Tax Relief Proposal.

“We had a lengthy discussion on the pros and cons of it,” said the mayor. Although Franklin County and other cities in the state did not want to participate in the proposal, Boise, Rigby and Chubbuck are among those cities that have.

“I advocated participating to give taxpayers relief,” said the mayor. Although the governor’s office said the $500,000 grant would provide between 10% and 20% in tax relief to the citizens of Preston, Mayor Keller expects the relief to be closer to 10%. One of the requirements was that the funds are to be used to pay police officers from March 15 — Dec. Another was that Preston City would not take the annually allowable three percent allowable tax increase this year. That increase usually amounts to between $30,000 and $40,000 a year.

“I did the math and at most, that will be 10 percent here.

“I think it is a good thing,” said Mayor Keller. Having run the numbers himself, he expects Preston residents will see a 10% cut in the city’s portion of their property taxes for 2020. For example on a $3,000 tax bill, Preston City’s portion would be $600. This grant will shave between $60-$70 of the city portion of the taxes.

That is money that property taxpayers will not have to pay, plus the three percent of additional relief because the city didn’t take its annual increase, he said. “Year after year, it adds up.”

The city made an offer on purchasing Craner Field from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so spent time discussing the procedure it must follow to do so.

The council then approved business licenses for two businesses: Financial Remedy and Symbii Home Health & Hospice, which recently bought out Signature Home Health.

The council also decided to increase safety around the high school by adding a stop sign on First East and Third South. The city’s engineer is currently in the process of researching that project.

Finally, the city instructed City Engineer Tyrell Simpson to begin negotiations for property acquisitions for a new sewer treatment plant.