City sets ‘14 budget, levy


The Maple Lake City Council began its Dec. 3 meeting with a Truth in Taxation public hearing, at which citizens are given the opportunity to voice their concerns over the budget. As no residents came forward to speak, the council (minus Deb Geyen, who was not in attendance) proceeded to pass a resolution adopting the 2014 budget of $1,510,030 and a levy of $830,575, reflecting an increase in budget requirements by $64,107 (about 4.4 percent), and an increase in the levy amount for the general fund by $37,174, which amounts to about 4.6 percent. 
“I know this is a slight raise,” Mayor Lynn Kissock said. “We haven’t seen raises in the past in the budget, which is why it is being raised. Because, just like everything else, the cost of living is going up, so we need to make sure that the city is following that same track.” 
In September, the council had adopted a proposed 2014 budget of $1,526,030 and a proposed 2014 levy of $846,575. At that time, the estimated tax rate was 58.389. Based on the latest information from the county, the tax rate for 2014 will be 60.025, an increase of 3.726 over 2013.
The budget adopted Dec. 3 included one change city staff had made with the removal of $16,000 for a School Resource Officer, as City Clerk Linda Hruby explained that the school had received a letter from the city regarding this issue and made no response. The subtraction resulted in a tax rate of approximately 58.889 – a decrease of 1.136 from the proposed budget submitted to the county in September. 
Other major changes to the General Fund Budget for 2014 included revenue increases to the General Fund Levy ($37,174), the Street Maintenance Levy ($35,000), and the Storm Sewer Maintenance Levy ($12,000).
It was the council’s consensus at a recent budget workshop to increase street maintenance by $30,000 this year, to rectify problems caused by budget cuts in past years. 
The final year for the 2003 Street Levy of $70,000 was in 2013. The council decided at the workshop to levy this amount again in 2014, with $35,000 going in the General Fund toward street maintenance and the other $35,000 to replenish the Community Development Fund. 
The council also decided to dissolve Storm Sewer Fund 603, effective Dec. 31, 2013. Fund 603 has a utility charge on the monthly utility bill of $1 for residential and $3 for business/commercial accounts. Effective with the 2014 bills, this line item will be removed and the sewer base rate will be increased $1 for residential and $3 for business/commercial accounts. This will result in an approximate revenue increase of $12,000 for the Sewer Fund. The levy in the Sewer Fund will be decreased by $12,000 and a new line item of $12,000 called Storm Sewer Improvements will be added to the Levy Certification. This $12,000 will be used for cleaning ponds, ditches, and such.  The Sewer Fund proposed rate increase is 0.75 cents per 1,000 gallons, which will cover the increase in the flow charge from the Joint Sewer Plant in 2014. The Sewer Fund revenue is anticipated to be $711,500 and expenses are anticipated to be $804,082, leading to an expected loss in 2014.
Local Government Aid increased by $48,151 to $479,341, and Liquor Store Fund transfers decreased by $20,000, bringing the total revenue change to $112,325.
Rising expenses included street maintenance ($65,000), storm sewer maintenance ($12,000), a council salary/committee meeting pay increase of $5 per meeting ($1,000), personnel reserve ($30,000), City Hall building ($18,151), elections ($2,000), Sheriff contract ($6,000), Public Works ($7,000), a parks decrease ($5,000), and debt decrease ($22,643), for a total expense change of $113,508.
More information appears in this week's Messenger.