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W’bago prelim levy up 17.84%

By Staff | Sep 17, 2017

Budget talks for 2018 highlighted the latest Winnebago City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 12. The council approved a preliminary tax levy increase of 17.84 percent for 2018.

The 2017 tax levy amounts to $585,344. As for the 2018 levy, that number was set at $682,447, or a $97,103 increase.

According to Winnebago city administrator Chris Ziegler, the levy is reduced by about one percent for every $10,000 increment removed from the increased budget total.

Ziegler noted the capital equipment budget as the main reasoning for the preliminary levy increase. Ziegler’s goal is to reduce the levy increase to five percent by December. By comparison, the city saw a 3.55 percent increase in 2017, and 2016 resulted in a 3.96 percent increase.

Attorney Chris Henjum of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) also made an appearance at the council meeting. The CGMC represents 90 cities across the state of Minnesota. A non-profit, non-partisan organization, the CGMC represents Minnesota cities to the state legislature.

The group’s mission is to help enhance economic development while also assisting in meeting environmental regulations. Transportation system development and overall community growth are key focus areas of the CGMC.

Council member Jean Anderson was particularly impressed with Henjum’s ambitious presentation.

“That’s what we need. We want somebody that’s proactive and willing to get stuff done instead of taking a back seat,” said Anderson.

After a brief discussion, the council passed a motion to pay the CGMC annual membership dues in the amount of $812. This is the first time the city of Winnebago has been a member with the CGMC. Like Anderson, Ziegler is also optimistic about this partnership.

“Their lobbying skills with the state legislature is most appealing to us,” Ziegler explained. “I think their technical assistance with employment law and environmental expertise will greatly help the city as well.”

Other items from the meeting included:

The approved wage increase for part-time police officers from $15.50 per hour to $16.50 per hour. Ziegler cited the need to stay competitive with wages in the surrounding areas as the impetus for the increase.

Authorized the purchase of two Watch Guard 360 degree camera systems for the Winnebago Police Department totaling $13,000. Winnebago police chief Eric Olson was very complimentary of the purchase, stating the council “went above and beyond” what he had expected.

The council accepted donations of $100 from the First Baptist Church, $238 from the Friends of the Muir Library to the Muir Library Fund, and $450 from the Ladies Brunch Pool to the Winnebago Swimming Pool for a new lifeguard chair.

A motion was carried to approve the request of $216 for library director Heidi Schutt to attend the Minnesota Library Association’s annual conference.

The council approved the postponement of the closing date of city owned duplexes to Oct. 27.

A purchase of $2,150 to replace the loader bucket for the street department was authorized by the City Council.

The city-owned 2002 Ford Ambulance was declared excess equipment and a motion was passed to sell the vehicle.

Council member Paul Eisenmenger reported his findings after investigating the cost of building a dog park. With a six foot fence costing roughly $20 per foot, as well as various other costs, Eisenmenger believes donations or future budget adjustments will be necessary to find funding for the project.

A public hearing for an alley vacation request is set for Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. The hearing will be held at City Hall.

The next regular Winnebago City Council meeting will take place on Oct. 10.