By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Howard Lake City Council approved a preliminary levy of $673,041 for 2011, which is an increase of 5.57 percent from the 2010 final levy of $637,515.
City Administrator Kelly Hinnenkamp noted that historically, the city has started with a conservative increase for its preliminary budget, and then trimmed it down during budget workshops prior to adopting the final levy.
Hinnenkamp also noted that the city had received its estimated tax burden from the auditor earlier that day. She said it looks confusing, because all market values went down. The 2011 tax capacity is down 11 percent from 2010.
As Hinnenkamp explained, “As market values go down and we have less value to tax, and we ask for the same amount of money, that (tax) rate is going to go up. If we ask for more money, that (tax) rate is going to go up even more.”
Based on the preliminary numbers, a residence with a taxable market value of $100,000 would have been subject to a city tax of $466 in 2010. In 2011, that home’s city tax would be $492, an increase of $26.
A summary of changes to the city’s budget in recent years will be published in the next Herald Journal.
City to move forward with grant application
The City of Howard Lake is moving forward with applying for the small cities development program, which provides money for commercial, rental, residential, and single-family residence rehabilitation.
The council approved a proposal from Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH) for grant writing services.
According Hinnenkamp, the city will be applying for the grant in conjunction with Maple Lake and Annandale.
Hinnenkamp also noted that the pre-application commitment includes a share fee of $5,100 and a final application fee of $3,900, which will be split between the three cities applying.
This money was not budgeted, because it was not an anticipated expense. Hinnenkamp said there were funds available still in the miscellaneous line item of the budget. The insurance line item also has money, because the council budgeted $35,000 and the insurance cost was only $32,363.
Hinnenkamp noted this money can be used to cover the expense if the council chooses to move forward with the grant.
Hinnenkamp also said, “I know over my years that I’ve been here, I have had a lot of homeowners that have asked for being part of something similar to this, so I think it would be a good opportunity for us to generate a program similar to our voyager fund for our homeowners and our rental properties.”
Council member Pete Zimmerman asked how the grant program would work, being shared between three cities.
Hinnenkamp said that each community is awarded a certain amount of money. The city is then responsible for setting a target area for the money, which is why the city was surveyed to see where the interest in this program lies.
Zimmerman then asked if the council had flexibility as to who or what projects would receive money through the grant program.
Hinnenkamp said in a way, it does. There are certain income requirements that must be met for anyone who would apply for one of the grants. The council still has to approve the loans.
She did not know whether there was certain criteria that has to be met in order for the council to deny anyone the grants, and the information about the grant did not go into any detail about whether someone has to be creditworthy in order to receive a grant.
Update on assisted living facility project
Hinnenkamp gave an update on the assisted living facility project. The project did not receive the 2010 allocation from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), but through the application process, there were a lot of reviews and feedback.
According to Hinnenkamp, one item that needed to be addressed was lack of local interest in the project.
To address this, a local committee has been formed to work with the non-profit that has been leading the project. The local committee will serve as an advisory board.
The committee met for the first time Sept. 7. Members are Randy Heuer, Denny Frey, and Marilyn Ringold, and City Clerk Gene Gilbert is the alternate.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• set the Truth in Taxation hearing during the city council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 7.
• approved the fall clean-up. The city’s fall clean-up for Saturday, Oct. 2.
• heard from Gilbert that there is a rifle for raffle at the liquor store as part of Confidence Learning Center and its licensing through the state.