Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?
The Blue Earth City Council used some creative budgeting to add back in every single item that was on their "wish list" and still come in with just a 3 percent increase in the local property tax levy.
Added into the plan for next year is $37,440 for work at the brush site, $69,000 for new playground equipment at several city parks, $25,200 for the campground at the fairgrounds and funds for the purchase of several pieces of large equipment.
The creative budget work came at a work session last Monday night before the regular meeting, and all of the changes would need to be made after a public hearing on Dec. 3, when the 2013 budget and levy are officially adopted.
Adding the items back in to the 2013 plan came about through a proposal from City Councilman and future mayor Rick Scholtes.
It involves adding several items into a proposed equipment purchase bond, meaning the city would borrow for the purchase of equipment.
Already in the equipment purchase bond were items such as a grader rebuild at $150,000 and a loader purchase at $40,000.
There is also a capital improvement project list. Each year the city spends approximately $110,000 in all departments on CIP.
The list for 2013 includes such items as computers, radios, tennis court resurfacing, and $10,000 for playground equipment and $40,000 for replacing a snowplow.
Scholtes' plan calls for putting the $10,000 for playground equipment and $59,000 more for playground equipment, plus the $40,000 for the plow purchase, and add it all into the equipment bond.
The costs for the brush site and campground could then be funded because of moving the equipment purchases off the general fund expenses.
In fact, there could still be $101,979 available in the budget that would not be spent.
Scholtes and mayor Rob Hammond Jr. say this proposal would mean a 3.6 percent increase in the property levy.
However, Hammond says that when the new construction in the city is factored in, the levy increase should be right at three percent.
The property tax levy would be $1.165 million, Scholtes says.
Before Scholtes made his proposal, Councilman Glenn Gaylord had stated that spending $25,000 on the campground was too much.
"I want to keep it open, but I think we only need one dump and one water source. Most of these campers have their own tanks," he says. "We don't need to spend $25,000 on this."
Several councilmen spoke on behalf of keeping the campground open.
"It is a real asset," Councilman John Gartzke says.
In other business at their regular meeting on Monday, the council:
Authorized ending a lease agreement with Seneca Foods early and selling them the warehouse building which the city built and leased to the food processing company for $100,000.
The city would also return a $500,000 'security deposit' to Seneca.
"This money was a guarantee against Seneca ending the lease early, by either closing the plant or moving it," Bailey says.
Reviewed the preliminary engineering study for the 2013 Highway 169 project.
The study included plans for all the underground sewer, water and storm sewer work during the project. It also included a preliminary cost sheet as well as preliminary assessment costs to be placed against each property.
The council will be holding a public hearing on the feasibility study for the project for affected landowners on Monday, Nov. 26 at 5:30 p.m. at the Public Safety Building.