By Mark Mitten
DASSEL, MN Dassel City Council conducted its annual truth-in-taxation hearing during Monday’s meeting to give citizens the opportunity to understand and interact on the 2018 budget and property tax levy.
Property taxes are based on property value assessment, and the levy is used to fund many key city services. The City of Dassel contracts with the county assessor’s office to do all the assessing for city residences and businesses.
“It is important when people get their properties assessed, that they talk to the county assessors,” Mayor Ron Hungerford noted. “Taxation is built upon that first step.”
The total levy amount for 2017 was $683,058, while the proposed total levy for the coming year will be $713,376.
Breaking it down, this number is a combination of three things: the general levy, fire protection, and bond debts.
City Clerk Terri Boese went over each category.
She noted that the general levy will be $537,076 (a 4 percent increase over 2017), fire protection $46,300 (a $339 decrease), and bonded indebtedness to be $130,000 (a $10,000 increase).
“You may question why the bond payment increased the bonds didn’t change,” Boese explained. “As the bonds get paid off, the interest gets lower, the principal gets lower, but they try to keep the payments the same. So, they increase the amount of the actual bond principal.”
After closing the hearing, the board certified the final 2018 levy amount of $713,376, which represents an increase of 4.4 percent ($30,318) from 2017.
Capital improvement plan adopted
City engineer Chuck DeWolf presented the city’s capital improvement plan (CIP).
The main goal of the CIP is to identify the utility and infrastructure needs of Dassel.
“Based on those needs, we can prioritize them what needs to be completed when,” DeWolf said, “and then plan a budget to complete the improvements.”
He listed the main areas of interest as street and utility infrastructure (streets, sewer, and water systems), the water treatment facility, city hall, and the history center and museum. The timing for these projects will depend on the prioritization set by the city council, and the financial ability to complete the projects over time.
“The whole idea behind this plan was to give the council a strategic vision on how we can keep things rolling for the city,” Hungerford said. “It is designed to help us plan for the future and take a look at the big picture.”
DeWolf noted that the CIP contains a lot of specific information about each goal, providing the council with documentation that will help with both city financial planning, and to pursue various state funding programs.
The CIP information is available at Dassel City Hall or by following the link at www.dasselcokato.com.
The council adopted the CIP.
During the open forum, Dassel resident Dave Backes gave the council an update about a potential fishing pier on Spring Lake (A story on this subject was printed in the Nov. 17 issue of the Enterprise Dispatch).
Currently there is a boat landing dock, but no pier on the lake. Backes said he believes an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant pier and paved walkway from the parking lot would have a positive impact on local residents who are not able to fish from a boat especially the elderly, handicapped, and families.
“I sent out 62 letters to Xcel Energy, and Century Link, and all the big ones, plus all those down here on Industrial Park. We got some donations from business people,” Backes said.
He has raised more than $5,000, and his goal is to raise another $10,000.
The total project cost is estimated to be $35,000. In addition to private citizen contributions, additional funding will be sought from Meeker County and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The city council applauded Backes’ effort, and offered to see if the city can assist financially. The pier could be installed as early as this spring.
The Minnesota Historical Society awarded the City of Dassel a Minnesota Historical & Cultural Heritage grant of $38,790.
These funds are for window restoration in the Universal Laboratories Building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved, after receiving complaints from utility customers, to stop using PayPal for online utility payments. Residents will receive a notice about the change.
• noted the city office will be closed Friday, Dec. 22; Monday, Dec. 25; and Monday, Jan. 15 (Martin Luther King Day).
• noted the next regular city council meeting is set for Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 at 7 p.m.