BE looks at 11% levy hike
Despite the protest of one councilman, the Blue Earth City Council voted to set a preliminary property tax levy increase at 11 percent over last year.
Councilman Dan Brod argued for setting the preliminary increase at 3 percent.
“If we are going to try and eventually get to a 3 percent increase, why not set it there to begin with and then make it work,” he asked his fellow council members.
He got a response from Councilman Glenn Gaylord.
“Dan, we are going to try our best to get it down, but there are just too many unknown numbers at this time,” he says.
Gaylord was referring to the fact that some of the 2011 budget numbers have not been finalized yet. The city still has to negotiate union employee contracts, and does not have a number for state funding of the library.
City Administrator Kathy Bailey told the council that the state has set a levy limit increase of 27 percent for Blue Earth.
“That figure includes being able to ‘levy-back’ for lost state aid in 2007 and 2008, and we already did that last year,” Bailey says. “Removing those numbers from the equation, we come up with the ability to increase the levy by 11 percent for 2011.”
Bailey’s proposal was to go with the full 11 percent at this time, and then work to reduce the budget to a more comfortable level.
“An 11 percent increase gives us an extra $15,645 to use for additional projects,” Bailey says. “A 3 percent increase means we would have to trim $83,443 from the current proposed budget.”
The 11 percent levy increase would put the local levy at $1,296,824.
The discussion on raising the levy came at a work session, while the vote was held during the regular meeting.
The council will have to make a final decision on the levy increase – and the budget – by Dec. 28.
The levy was not the only financial decision made at last Monday’s regular council meeting.
The council had to accept the one and only bid for putting the final lift of asphalt on the 10th and Moore street project.
The original contractor has gone out of business, and thus will not be available for the final work.
The city rebid the job and received one bid for $46,888 from SMC Contractors.
City Engineer Bill Sayre says the amount is $11,000 higher than the original bid. He adds, however, that much of the original project came in less than the bid, so there are funds available for the final lift.
The council also voted to accept a bid of $33,788 for new emergency sirens that will be installed in several areas around the city.
The bid was from Frontline Plus.
Councilman Brod questioned why the sirens were not being moved for better coverage, and was told the new sirens will have a slightly higher decibel rate, and will the city will have adequate coverage.
Brod was the lone dissenting vote on the motion to accept the bid.