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Delano looking at possible 12+ percent levy increase
Sept. 3, 2012
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However, final levy amount may be reduced

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

DELANO, MN – In a special work session Wednesday night, Delano City Council continued discussing its 2013 budget and tax levy, with a possible 12.65 percent total levy increase being proposed above last year’s certified levy.

The budget estimates a preliminary levy for the city’s general fund of $2,453,594, which would be an increase of $191,403, or 8.46 percent above this year’s levy of $2,262,191.

The general fund shows revenues and expenditures of $3,260,249, or $341,824 more than last year’s budget. This is an 11.71 percent increase from 2012 to 2013, Bloch noted.

“The emphasis of the 2013 preliminary budget for the City of Delano continues to focus on meeting taxpayer expectations while dealing with a lethargic economy,” Finance Director Brian Bloch said after the meeting.

The capital improvement plan proposed for 2013 through 2017 shows total expenditures in the amount of $9,267,709. This is a 9.77 percent decrease from the $10,271,000 amount of the last five-year capital improvement plan. Expenditures for 2013 are proposed at $3,829,083, compared to expenses of $2,543,400 in 2012.

The council also looked at the city’s general fund revenues and expenses.

License and permit revenues are expected to increase $4,510, or 5.3 percent, from 2012. The city received building permit revenue of $77,752 in 2010, and $189,818 in 2011. Through June 2012, the city has taken in $40,155 in building permit revenue.

Operating expenses for the city are proposed to increase $123,802, or 5.5 percent, from 2012 to 2013, according to Bloch.

Included in personal services is a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment, a one-step increase at the anniversary date for eligible positions, and a $750, or 8.4 percent, increase in the city’s contribution toward health insurance.

City budget by department

The following includes highlights from the city’s proposed 2013 budget, broken down by city department.

Administration: This department’s budget shows a decrease of 0.7 percent from the 2012 budget. The budget for other services and charges decreased $6,180 as a result of the one-time comprehensive plan update in 2012.

The 2013 administrative budget also includes a one-time expense of $13,000 for a community survey.

Finance: The finance department’s budget increased $3,465, or 1.8 percent over the 2012 budget. The largest increase, in personal services, is a result of the cost-of-living adjustment, step increases, and the insurance contribution increase.

Public safety: The public safety department’s budget shows a 4.89 percent increase, or $26,989, over the 2012 budget. This is largely a result of the increase in cost for flood protection services. It was also noted $9,255 of the increase is a direct result of additional costs for fire operations.

Public works: The public works department’s budget shows an operations budget increase of $31,665, or 7.8 percent, from 2012 to 2013. The largest percentage increase is in the area of street repair and maintenance. There is also a $6,000 increase for engineering services.

Community services: The city’s community service budget is projected to increase 9.7 percent above the 2012 budget. Repairs and maintenance within supplies and materials increased $11,100 from 2012 to 2013. Other services and charges includes a $15,000 line item for a one-time project in 2013.

The library’s budget under community services shows a 1.3 percent increase, or $330.

The heritage center’s budget is also expected to see an increase of $610 in operating expenses.

Fire department: The fire department’s 2013 expenditure budget is expected to have a $13,370, or 5 percent, increase over the 2012 budget. This includes a $2,000 increase for firefighting equipment and $5,270 in personal services.

Senior center: The senior center budget’s expenditures are expected to increase $8,740, or 3.9 percent, from 2012 to 2013. The largest percentage increase is supplies and materials, and also personal services.

Next steps

Bloch provided a tentative timeline of future budget discussions, which is as follows:

• Wednesday, Sept. 5 – council sets the preliminary tax levy for 2013. Once the preliminary tax levy is established, the levy cannot be raised above this amount.

• Tuesday, Sept. 25 – council will review preliminary draft budgets of the remaining special revenue funds, capital projects funds, sanitary sewer fund, and liquor fund.

• Tuesday, Nov. 27 – council will review updated preliminary draft budgets of all city funds and the preliminary draft of the 2013–2017 capital improvement plan.

• Tuesday, Dec. 4 – council will conduct a public hearing for any comments on the proposed 2013 budget and tax levy.

• Tuesday, Dec. 18 – council will approve the 2013 budget, tax levy and 2013-2017 capital improvement plan.

A draft of the preliminary 2013 budget and 2013-2017 capital improvement plan are available on the city’s website. Any comments, suggestions, or questions can be directed to Bloch at bbloch@delano.mn.us or (763) 972-0584.

Other budget notes

Bloch also noted a number of items when looking at the city’s budget for 2013.

He noted that Delano will not receive any Local Government Aid (LGA) in 2013. The last time the city received any LGA from the state was 2009, he noted.

Bloch also said the city is not budgeting for an increase in building permit revenues.

“Due to the slow economic recovery, the city only expects the same building permit revenue – $60,000 – in 2013 as it budgeted for in 2012,” Bloch said. “Without definite signs that our local area, state, and country will see significant signs of economic recovery, the city is reluctant to rely on a more aggressive amount.

He also noted the forthcoming purchase of a new fire truck. He said the city’s capital improvement plan includes the purchase of a new multi-purpose fire truck at a cost of $720,000. This purchase has been delayed for several years due to budget constraints, and will replace the 1991 fire truck.

Improvements to certain neighborhood streets in the amount of $1,741,483 are scheduled for 2013.

Of the $1.7 million price tag, $1.1 million will be paid for with state grants and aids and the remaining $0.6 million is expected to be bonded for, Bloch said.

The riverfront floodwall project in the amount of $850,000 was also noted.

Public safety and aesthetic improvements to the downtown riverfront are expected to take place in 2013. About $350,000 of the project costs are expected to be covered by local or state grants, while the remaining $500,000 is expected to be financed by a bond issuance.

Bloch said the city will also be focusing on street maintenance in 2013.

In addition to a sealcoating project for neighborhood streets (estimated cost up to $70,000), the streets department is expected to spend about 32 percent more, or $14,000, on maintaining streets and snowplowing in 2013,” Bloch said.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• heard from City Administrator Phil Kern the city is looking at restructuring the administrative support positions within the city, with the goal to reduce hours and shift responsibilities.

He said shifts would move expertise into certain areas and would better utilize the employees the city has. He said he has already discussed the proposal with affected staff members, and said changes are expected to be made around the first of the year.

• set a work session Wednesday, Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. to meet with the fire truck committee. The council also moved its regular meeting to that night at 7 p.m. due to the first day of school falling on its normal meeting date of Tuesday.

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