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BE sets preliminary levy hike at 12.3%

By Staff | Sep 27, 2020

The Blue Earth City Council set a preliminary budget and tax levy amount at their meeting last Monday night, but they also said they plan to lower the amount by the time the final numbers are set in December.

The council set the preliminary property tax levy amount for 2021 at $1.88 million, which is a 12.3 percent increase from this current year.

“Our goal is still going to be to get the levy increase down to a 3 or 3.5 percent amount,” mayor Rick Scholtes said. “That has been our target each year for the last few years.”

Scholtes and city administrator Mary Kennedy explained that some of the budget numbers for revenues are not all filled in at this time. Adding them in will drop the levy amount necessary for the proposed budget.

During the council’s work session last Monday before the regular meeting, Scholtes and Kennedy went over the budget and pointed out several things which had been changed, including some additions to the Public Works, Economic Development Authority (EDA), airport and library funds.

In addition, revenue sources besides the levy, are also being added into the fitness center, library and other departments’ budgets.

“We have changed some of the spreadsheets on the budget,” mayor Scholtes said. “This will help us with a better understanding of where we are at during the year, where we are at with our spending.”

For instance, the mayor noted that the swimming pool had a budget of $138,512 and so far has spent $138,512. Of course, he added, it had a late start to the season due to COVID-19.

Overall it was noted the current 2020 budget was $4.4 million and at the current time $3.7 million has been spent, with about $700,000 remaining in the budget for the rest of the year.

“I think we have done a pretty good job of keeping any increases at a minimum (for the 2021 budget),” Kennedy said. “The department heads have been very responsible in what they asked for in the budget for next year.”

The final 2021 budget and property tax levy amount will be set after the Truth in Taxation hearing which is set for Dec. 7 at 6 p.m.