By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN One may get a “sticker shock” effect when looking at a proposed 18 percent levy increase for the City of Delano in 2012.
In a workshop Tuesday morning, Delano finance director Brian Bloch said the city’s proposed budget estimates a preliminary general fund levy of $2,484,134, which is an increase of $381,186, or 18.13 percent, over last year’s levy of $2,102,948.
Bloch said the city’s preliminary levy must be approved by Thursday, Sept. 15 and, once approved, cannot be increased above that amount. However, it can be reduced before the final levy is approved in December.
City Administrator Phil Kern said after the meeting, the city has prepared its preliminary numbers as a “worst-case scenario” and said this year’s budget looks at replacing capital improvement items that had been postponed over the last three or four years.
Kern said he expects this number to drop before the final budget is approved.
“The budget process isn’t just a one-step process,” Kern said, noting that city staff is working to trim and modify things, as well as prioritize capital improvement projects.
“That’s going to be an open, public, community-participative process,” Kern said.
The city has also not received word if it will be receiving a fund transfer for Delano Municipal Utilities as it did this year, and the city is also working on a job-share proposal with the City of Watertown for a building official, which would result in a savings to the city. If both of these things happen, Kern said this will reduce the levy increase to about 13 or 14 percent.
A joint meeting between the council and power, water, and light commission will take place Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. at the city hall conference room to discuss the fund transfer, and several other items.
Cost of living, step increases to be figured into budget
In the general fund, operating expenditures are expected to increase $128,070, or 6 percent, from 2011 to 2012, according to Bloch’s memo.
Included is a 3.6 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA), a one-step increase at the anniversary date for positions eligible for a step increase, and an 8.7 percent, or $900, decrease in the city contribution toward health insurance.
The COLA matches the increase in the consumer price index (CPI), which went up 3.6 percent from May 2010 to May 2011, according to Bloch. The CPI is a measure of the average change over time of the prices paid by consumers for goods and services.
A look at projected department funds
Under the administration portion of the budget, an increase of 12.3 percent is projected from the 2011 budget.
The budget for supplies and materials is projected to increase $3,600 as a result of newsletter costs. Of the $26,790 increase in other services and charges, $25,000 is figured in for updating the city’s comprehensive plan.
Projected increases in the cost of the city’s audit and assessing services also resulted in a projected increase of 5.9 percent, of $10,610, for the finance department.
The public safety department’s 2012 budget shows a 5.8 percent increase, or $31,289, over its 2011 budget. This is largely a result of the increase in cost for flood protection services. Additional costs for fire operations were also figured in.
The public works department’s budget shows a decrease of $34,195, or 7.6 percent, from 2011 to 2012, according to Bloch. The decrease is a result of a change in allocation of worker costs between the public works department and the community services department.
A small decrease was figured for the library budget, which is projected at a $300, or 1.2 percent, decrease from 2011 to 2012.
The city is also estimating an increase of $3,040 in operating expenses for the heritage center/village hall building.
The fire department’s 2012 expense budget is expected to have a $5,900, or 2.2 percent, increase over the 2011 budget. Supplies and materials include a $2,000 increase for firefighting equipment. An increase in the firefighters relief association pension was also realized.
Total operating expenses for the Delano Senior Center are expected to increase $4,835, or 2.2 percent, from 2011 to 2012, due largely to the cost of supplies and materials.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• reviewed a letter of intent from Delano resident Nathan Grave, who is proposing the city take a look at establishing an ordinance regarding chickens in town.
The council agreed to look into ordinances other cities have in place and bring the issue back to a future meeting.
• had general discussion about the city’s proposed northwest industrial park.
Kern noted the city hopes to have preliminary development agreement drafts by the end of September for property owners, and said a special meeting will likely take place to review the draft agreements.
Kern said there have been three “moderately interested” businesses that have inquired into land in the industrial park area. He said all of the businesses are looking in the two-to-three-year range.
• discussed utility extensions into jurisdictions other than the city in light of news that the proposed Target development in Independence appears to be off the table.
The council indicated it would want to know more specifics on any future proposals before agreeing to discuss the issue further.