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W’Bago council sets preliminary tax levy

By Staff | Sep 16, 2012

The Winnebago City Council discussed setting the preliminary budget and tax levy for the 2013 year, at the Sept. 11 meeting.

The council approved setting the preliminary tax levy at a 6.55 percent increase, compared to the 6.76 percent it was increased last year.

The city can go below the amount set but cannot exceed that amount.

City Administrator Austin Bleess told the council that the budget and levy will most likely change.

“I think it is realistic to bring the final levy down to a 3.5 percent increase,”?he says.

The preliminary budget shows an increase within the general expenditure fund, which has been set at $1,111,720. This figure takes into consideration the most significant increases with police, ambulance and pool expenses.

The council will revisit the budget and levy and set the final numbers in December, before the end of the year.

The council also had to make a decision regarding utility bills, stemming from the resignation of Marilyn Oswald as administrative and accounting assistant.

Oswald, who had her two-year review at last month’s council meeting, put in her resignation and had her last day of work on Aug. 29.

Her resignation left an opening in the office at City Hall. Bleess presented an option to the council to fill her absence.

“If we stop sending out the late utility bills every month, we will save time and money,”?he says.

Bleess suggests the city only send out shut-off notices after the bills are three months late. That will cut back on the amount of help needed in the office.

The council could then hire on-call help that could work in the office when needed. Other duties could be done by Bleess or deputy city clerk Megan Boeck.

The council approved having the city fill Oswald’s position with Jeanne Kortuem and Heidi Schutt in the position of on-call office assistant on-call, with a $14 an hour pay rate.

Some council members wondered if having just two people on-call would be enough, or if more should be added.

“I just don’t see that as a need at this time,”?council member Stacy Huntington-Scofield says.

Approving this option also required that council approve that late bills not be sent out every month as they have been.

Council members approved having the city send out notices only after the utility bill has been delinquent for three months and is going to be shut off.

In other business;

Council discussed the idea of joining the county in forming a comprehensive plan for the city at the same time.

“The city’s current comprehensive plan dates back to 1967,” Bleess says. “That doesn’t really apply to very much anymore.”

According to the Faribault County Soil and Water Conservation District, the cost to the city of Winnebago to take part in the comprehensive plan would be $1,023.42.

“A comprehensive plan serves as a document for where the city would like to see themselves in the future,”?Bleess adds.

The council authorized that the city enter into an understanding with the county that they would like to complete a comprehensive plan.

“I’m sure this will be a several month process,”?the city administrator says.

A petition from Doug Meyer to detach his property located along Highway 109 was brought before the council.

His petition will have a hearing and will be decided at that time. However, the council has opposed the petition.

“This property is zoned as B1, for business and service. Detachment would affect future city development,”?Bleess explains.

The council also approved assessment hearings for both the Main Street and First Avenue projects.

The hearings will both be scheduled for Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. when the next regular council meeting will be held.