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Wells reduces levy increase to a single digit

By Staff | Dec 20, 2015

Single digits.

After the Wells City Council just approved its tax levy of 10.5 percent on Dec. 7, they held a special meeting last Monday afternoon to drop it even lower.

While doing the city’s budget, city administrator Robin Leslie found a few odd negative numbers in the debt payments after talking with a consultant.

The change came from the debt service fund. With the change made by Leslie it dropped the debt service from 44 percent down to 39 percent.

“I asked Northland Securities to explain as to whether those numbers were accurate. Unfortunately, they did not get back to me until after we set the levy last Monday. There was about a $10,170 error. If you take that off of our original levy, it brings our levy down to 9.27 percent,” said Leslie.

According to Leslie, the total of the levy will be just over $900,000.

The council also talked about board appointments for the city.

Not only is the council concerned about the open positions still left on the Planning and Zoning commission and the Economic Development Authority (EDA), there may be some structural changes to both the EDA and the Public Utilities Committee (PUC).

According to Leslie, Wells’ current ordinance states that the EDA can have five members, two of those members being from the City Council. However, currently, there are seven members of the EDA.

Leslie brought this idea to the council’s attention to bring efficiency to the EDA.

“But this would have to go through council,” she added, “there is also the possibility of having four council members with one public member on the board. The Faribault County Development Corporation (FCDC) is familiar with this set up.”

A public hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 11 for the specific purpose of discussing the EDA board structure.

The PUC has also had a small change to its standing as well. Councilman David Braun has been appointed by the City Council as a third member of the committee. According to Leslie, by statute, a council member can be on the voting board of the PUC.

Though some members of the community who are also presently members of the EDA and PUC had some concerns, councilwoman Whitney Harig changed the tone of the conversation.

“This is what we constantly run into with the EDA and PUC we hear ‘this is how we have always done it.’ People have a tough time deciding to go with old ways or new ways and it slows our process down. I want to see results and we have not been seeing them,” said Harig. “I support these changes. We need to have new members for a change. With new members comes new ideas and new opportunities.”

Brad Heggen, one of the EDA board members response to Harig was that there needs to be a balance struck in the future.

“If we have new people all the time, we spend too much time explaining how things work and still don’t get anything done,” said Heggen. “We need to strike a balance between having members with new ideas and having older members with knowledge and experience.”

Mayor Ron Gaines mentioned that when the multi-board meeting happened in October, he was impressed with the openness and communication and feels the multi-board meetings could be beneficial if done more frequently.

Wells City Council’s next regular meeting will be Jan. 11 at 5 p.m.