BE Council approves 3% levy hike
As expected, the Blue Earth City Council set the 2011 tax levy increase at just 3 percent.
Originally, the council had set a preliminary increase at 11 percent, but never expressed a desire to keep it at that amount.
The decision to cut the increase to 3 percent came after weeks of discussing adjustments to the 2011 budget, making the lower levy increase possible.
In fact, after all the trimming and adjusting was finished, the budget showed a balance of $83,443 of undesignated funds.
The council quickly voted to add another item to the budget, a new picnic shelter at Putnam Park.
Councilman Glenn Gaylord’s motion was to set aside the budgeted surplus to be used for construction of a shelter, and also to possibly use liquor store profits to make sure the project is fully funded.
“Of course, if we need to trim the budget due to unallotments, this might have to come out,” he says.
City Administrator Kathy Bailey informed the council that the League of Minnesota Cities now says they do not expect the governor to be able to do any unallotment at this time.
The City Council also made another addition to the budget before making the decision on the levy. They voted to fund Faribault County Development Corporation (FCDC) at the full $50,000 level in 2011.
The vote was 5 to 1 to continue the funding for one more year, with Council person Paula Kelly casting the lone dissenting vote.
Another decision which could affect the budget was whether to accept a proposal from Public Works Supervisor Dick LaMont to take early retirement.
The council went into closed session to discuss that proposal, and to discuss union employee contracts.
After the closed session, officials say the council came up with counter proposals for both the unions and for LaMont.
Details were not released at this time.
One other budget decision was whether to start a fund to help local businesses which will be affected by future construction projects in downtown Blue Earth, and along Highway 169.
Councilman John Huisman suggested adding at least $10,000 to the budget for this special fund.
After some discussion, Bailey explained this money could actually come out of economic development funds which the city already has on hand, and could be done without affecting either the budget or the 2011 levy.
The levy was set at $1,197,736, up from the 2010 levy of $1,162,851.
The city’s budget for 2011 currently stands with revenues of $3.681 million, and expenditures of $3.606 million.