Levy down to 3%
The property tax levy in Blue Earth is going up, but not nearly as much as the City Council had originally proposed.
At last Monday’s regular council meeting, a levy reflecting a three percent increase was passed.
Last month the council had first proposed an increase of 12 percent, but had always hoped it could be lowered.
City Administrator Kathy Bailey said she, the staff, and the council had worked hard to trim various items from the budget.
Among the cuts are not filling a full time police officer and half time city utility worker positions. Also, a new road grader and police squad car purchase were put on hold.
The 2010 budget was accepted, and stands at $3.5 million. It is down approximately $50,000 from 2009, and shows a projected year-end balance of $18,000.
“That gives us a little ‘wiggle’ room,” Bailey says. “But very little wiggle room.”
The 2010 levy was set at $1.162 million, up from the 2009 levy amount of $1.128 million.
The council passed both the budget and levy amounts after having held their Truth in Taxation public meeting as part of the regular meeting. No members of the public were at that part of Monday’s meeting.
Mayor Rob Hammond said that the passage of the budget was with the understanding that if the state and governor unallot funds to the city, all budget items are back on the table.
The budget and levy were not the only large financial issues discussed at the meeting.
The council also passed a motion to accept a bid buying $1.640 million in city bonds.
The money will be used to refinance a current city bond, as well as purchasing equipment.
Doug Green of Springsted, Inc., told the council that six bids were received.
“The lowest bid was from United Bankers’ Bank,” Green says. “Their bid was at an interest rate of 2.9452 percent.”
He says the rate is lower than what his firm had expected. Green says it is due to the city’s increase in S and P financial rating from BAA to A+.
“That is a four notch upgrade,” Green says. “I have never seen that large of a jump before.”
He attributed the jump to local projects, debt retirement and financial management of the city.
Green says he and Bailey had a four hour conference call with S and P and that Bailey did a great job promoting all of the things going on with the City of Blue Earth.