Wells increases levy by 5 percent
The Wells City Council reached their goal of lowering the city’s property tax levy increase from a possible 10 percent to just 5 percent.
At the Sept. 9 meeting, the council set the maximum possible 2014 levy at 10 percent.
But, last Monday night, after a public hearing, the council voted to officially set the levy at $732,430, a 5-percent increase over last year’s levy.
However, the 2013 budget will need to be amended, according to city administrator, Robin Leslie.
“I will be amending the 2013 budget, due to a large amount of unbudgeted storm damage expenditures and underestimations by the interim administrator,” Leslie says.
Last year’s budget was created by the interim city administrator who was not familiar with the city, according to Leslie.
Due to the shift in staffing in 2012, Leslie was left without actual numbers for 2012 and correct 2013 budget numbers.
“Our 2013 budget was underestimated and needs some adjustments. I won’t know until year-end how off it is,” Leslie explains. “I won’t know if we over or under spent until January. Next year it will be much easier for me to create the 2015 budget due to the time I put into the 2014 budget.”
The levy increase is a result of a few factors, one of them being the increasing costs of medical coverage.
Blue Cross Blue Shield increased coverage by 10 percent.
A union’s different medical coverage was raised by 5 percent as well, according to Leslie. Council members took notice of Leslie’s preparation and hard work put into the budget.
“All of her research and planning will make life easier for next year,” council member Ann Marie Schuster says. “She didn’t have a lot to go from and to be able to put this budget together is very impressive. I am extremely comfortable with the accuracy and with Robin’s knowledge of all the departments in the city.”
The council’s goal was no more than a 5-percent increase and Leslie’s goal was to make the budget work within that increase.
“I was very happy I was able to accomplish this goal during my first budget season with the city of Wells,” Leslie says. “I worked very hard on this and think it is a very realistic and fair budget not only for residents of Wells, but also for city employees.”