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BE Council looks at tax levy hike

By Staff | Sep 11, 2011

The Blue Earth City Council voted to set a maximum local tax levy hike for 2012 at just over 11 percent, despite a preliminary budget that showed a decrease in the levy could be possible.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey presented her first budget proposal for 2012 which showed a decrease of $94,450 in expenses from the current year.

“This is a bare bones budget,” Bailey told the council this past Monday night. “It does not include items such as street fund money or funds for a picnic shelter.”

It does include a 2-percent increase in salaries for city employees, Bailey says.

Bailey wrote in her explanation that this budget would mean the council could actually reduce the levy if they chose.

However, several councilmen wanted items previously cut to be put back in the budget.

“We need to raise the levy in order to do the things we have been cutting back on,” Councilman John Gartzke says. “We cannot continue to cut, cut, cut – there are things we need to get done and we need the funds to do them.”

Councilman Glenn Gaylord agreed.

“Last year we set the preliminary levy at an 11-percent increase, but later we made it a 3-percent raise,” Gaylord says. “I am in favor of doing that again, setting it at 11-percent tonight and then lowering it to 3-percent if that will work.”

That is exactly what the council voted to do at Monday night’s meeting, with the levy set at $1,330,000 which is just over an 11-percent hike.

The council can lower it to a final number at their December meeting, but cannot increase it.

Bailey’s 2012 budget proposal was not the only financial issue she presented to the council.

Under old business at the work session before the regular meeting she went through the list of proposed cuts to the current 2011 budget.

Due to over $254,000 in cuts to state aid in this current year, the budget the city is currently using to operate needs to be trimmed.

The council did not take any action on the cuts at the meeting on Monday night, however.