Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Sept. 3, 2001

Skating rink lot sold; single digit tax levy increase expected

By Patrice Waldron

The Lester Prairie City Council approved the sale of the city skating rink lot when Crown River Builders of Hutchinson met the asking price of $22,500.

City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk explained that the seller's fee should be limited to paying for the abstract. The city clerk and Lester Prairie Mayor Eric Angvall received approval to complete the closing process.

As the discussion turned to budget matters, the focus was on how to best meet the needs of the city, while keeping the tax levy as low as possible.

Angvall explained that as of right now, the tax levy for the proposed budget would be about a seven and one-half percent increase over the figure for last year's budget.

The three items that raised the budget were the new fire truck, the new furnace needed for city hall, and the park budget (which includes swimming pool expenses).

One fact not to be overlooked is that even though there's an increase in the tax levy for next year, it is the lowest, and first single digit increase the city has imposed in a number of years.

There was a 13 percent increase in taxes to fund the 2000 budget and a 19 percent increase to meet the 2001 budget.

Pawelk stated that the budget is at a point where there is not room for much change.

"If something is broken or there's an emergency you better plan on fixing it, but there's no room for anything new, or something else," Pawelk said.

"If you take the fire truck out, (which will cost the city about $18,000 each of the next five years), there would only be a $5,000 increase in the city budget over last year," Angvall said.

"That's not to pass judgement, it's just that the money is committed," Angvall concluded.

Council member Rose Halloran stated that she would like to see the money earned from the sale of the skating rink lot go toward future development of a downtown park.

"We could get along without another park for 10 years, but you couldn't go without a fire truck for 10 years," said council member Rollie Bruckschen.

It was decided that the money from the sale of the lot would go into an economic/community development fund to be used to develop Main Street.

At the request of Bruckschen, $1,000 was added to the budget for community development, to go toward community education, and things to promote the city of Lester Prairie.

"We can only tap our businesses so much, I don't think the taxpayers would mind paying for promoting the city," Bruckschen said.

Other business

· The city council voted to give Lester Prairie Maintenance Supervisor Greg Mueller the authority to dispose of the warming house on the ice skating rink lot.

· Formative engineering has removed the septic system from their other lot, filled in the hole, and met the deadline set by the council for accomplishing the task.

· The council approved replacing the city hall furnace this fall. The heaters and the work will be provided by Dietel Plumbing and Heating of Lester Prairie.

A price quote will be sought to determine if it's cheaper to go to a zoned system instead of buying four separate heaters to heat the building.

· the council approved sharing the expense and storage space for road salt with McLeod County. The price to the city will be $1,725, with the money being taken out of the street budget.

· Some months ago Lester Prairie resident Ralph Machemehl expressed his displeasure over some trees located on a berm near his home. Attempts have been made, without success, to purchase the property from the railroad company. Nothing more will be done at this time.

· progress is being made in acquiring an easement for the Elm Street North property.

· Dan Wroge is working on updating the well, Pawelk reported. As soon as the pump is replaced, hydrants will be flushed.

Next council meeting

The Lester Prairie City Council will meet Monday, Sept. 10, 7:30 p.m. at the city hall.

A public hearing for Lester Prairie residents to voice their opinions on the proposed budget will take place.

Information will be presented regarding replacement or updating the 20-year-old emergency sirens.

The six foreign exchange students who will be attending Lester Prairie High School for the 2001-2002 school year will be present at the meeting. The students and their host families will be welcomed to the community, explained Angvall.

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