Council proposes 22% levy
Although saying the amount will certainly be lowered by December, the Blue Earth City Council set a proposed property tax levy increase at 22 percent for 2009.
The vote came at a meeting last Monday after a presentation by City Admini-strator Kathy Bailey.
“Blue Earth is subject to a state mandated levy limitation,” Bailey says. “That limitation is a 3.9 percent increase,” she adds.
However, that limitation does not cover debt service.
“We have a considerable amount of debt service,” Bailey explains, “So we are allowed to have a higher increase.”
Bailey says the levy amount was $1.555 million last year. She proposed the council set the maximum increase, which is $280,267.
“I think you should set it at the high end, and then we can work down to a comfortable levy amount in November and December,” she says. “Remember, this is a proposed amount and you can always lower it, but cannot increase it.”
“My concern is that we say it is a 3.9 percent increase but the public sees a 22 percent increase,” Mayor Rob Hammond says.
Bailey explains that after meetings with the department heads, and a budget work session with the council, items can be trimmed in the budget, and the levy amount should be cut.
“So our goal here is what?” Councilman John Huisman asks.
“Our goal is to come in under the 22 percent, once the budget is set,” Bailey responds. “But this is the last day you have to notify the county auditor of the maximum your levy increase will be for next year.”
“So this is no different than most other years,” Councilman Dick Maher says. “We have been high (with a preliminary levy increase) before and then cut it back down, so I think people understand that.”
Huisman calls the 3.9 percent levy increase limit “a moot point.”
Bailey says it applies to the levy except for three items; fire department and police budgets, and debt service.
“You see cities all over the state who are setting levy limits over the 3.9 limit,” she says.