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Council looking at budget ‘wish-list’

By Staff | Oct 6, 2008

The Blue Earth City Council got their first look at the 2009 budget last week, then spent time formulating a “wish list” of items which could be added.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey presented the budget at a special work session last Monday.

Bailey says this preliminary budget actually has “wiggle” room in it.

“If the levy stays the same as last year, there is $52,751 still available to use in this budget that is not designated anywhere,” Bailey says.

That would mean an increase in the tax levy would not be necessary, and a decrease would be possible.

However, Bailey told the council there are many items not in the preliminary budget, which council members might want to add.

Chief among those is money earmarked for street improvements. None is included at this time, Bailey says.

Bailey created a list of projects which council members had previously said were important to get accomplished.

That list included a picnic shelter and basketball court at Putnam Park, leaf pickup machine, disc golf course and animal pound renovations.

Bailey also listed items of sidewalk, light pole replacement and building demolition fund.

“It won’t take much to eat up the $50,000,” Bailey pointed out. “Especially if we add money for street improvements.”

She says a moderate three percent increase in the levy would bring in $90,316 of additional funds to the city, while a five percent increase means $115,360 more. Those amounts would be added to the $52,751 that has not been designated in this budget version.

At their last regular meeting the council had set a proposed levy increase of 22 percent. They are able to lower that amount as much as they wish, but cannot increase it.

“We will continue to work on the budget and by December make a decision on a final version and then set the levy amount,” Bailey says.

Earlier in the work session she had gone over all the capital outlay projects which are included in the budget.

Among those are:

– $13,000 for city hall remodeling and new computer.

– $44,900 for the police department including a new squad car and digital video camera.

– $206,000 for public works including new tractor, pickup, mower, plow and playground equipment.

– $950,000 for the fire department. This is for a new aerial ladder truck, Bailey says. This expenditure depends on the city getting a $550,000 FEMA grant and a $400,000 USDA low-interest loan. Bailey says this project would only be done if the funding comes in.

– Additionally there is $16,000 for projects at the airport, $3,500 for the senior citizens center, $6,900 for the library and $3,000 for the pool.