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W’bago expects tax hike

By Staff | Sep 20, 2015

Citizens of Winnebago may be looking at an increase in the tax levy as high as 11.63 percent next year.

The City Council called a special meeting last Thursday night in order to discuss and set a preliminary levy.

The council approved a proposed increase of 11.63 percent. However, now that the number is set, they will spend the next couple of months working down from that number and most likely residents of Winnebago will not see that much of a hike.

In fact, last year at this time, Winnebago set their preliminary levy at a similar number a 11.84 percent increase and worked down to an increase of just more than 2 percent.

“I? would like to set aside some time at our November meeting to dig into the numbers a little more and do some changing,”?city administrator Chris Ziegler said.

They will then need to set the final levy and budget for 2016 by December.

Ziegler said he has spent some time looking into the different departments funds but will do more so before they set the final levy.

“There are a lot of different needs in various departments,” he told the council.

The overall capital equipment fund has been increased by $20,000 from the previous year.

The amount of $15,000 has been added into the budget for a loader replacement within the next couple of years.

A new copier is also on the docket so an extra $7,000 has been budgeted to cover that expense.

However, some areas may see a decrease. The squad replacement fund has been reduced by $10,000.

“I?reduced that since both of our squads are newer,”?Ziegler explained. “Overall, our capital equipment is at $180,000 for 2016 and ended up at $160,000 last year.”

The council agreed that nothing jumped out as a concern in the proposed budget and that they would work toward a lower increase prior to setting the final numbers in December.

Another concern ending out the year was not about numbers but about logistics after the resignation of the city attorney, Doug Johanson.

So also at the meeting, the council approved the use of an interim attorney until the hiring process is completed.

“I have copies for requests for proposals, but that is going to take some time,” Ziegler said. “I propose to have David Frundt serve as the interim city attorney.”

David Frundt of Frundt & Johnson, Ltd. in Blue Earth currently provides his services to the city of Blue Earth and the city of Wells.

His charge will be $135 an hour and $75 per paralegal work, according to Ziegler.

“I am confident we will remain under budget for the year as we haven’t had many cases,”?he said. “But, it is important to designate an interim so I can move forward with some current issues.”

The Council also held an Open House meeting regarding the Northwest Area Street and Utility Improvements project.

Residents of town, and the affected neighborhood, were invited to the Open House which was held in the Municipal Center from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday night.

“We had about 12 members of the public in attendance,”?Ziegler said.

Some residents raised concerns or questions about the projects, others were able to come and see maps, charts and information on what the project was all about.

A large portion of the concerns expressed throughout the course of the planning for the project was that the cost would be too high for the residents.