BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Delano City Council members took an in-depth look at the proposed budget for 2018 during Tuesday’s meeting.
“The total preliminary tax levy for 2018 is currently expected to increase 7.9 percent, compared to the total final levy in 2017,” Finance Director Brian Bloch said. “That compares to an expected 7.6 percent increase outlined in the five-year forecast presented to the council earlier this year.”
It also compares to a 6.4 percent levy increase in the previous year.
For a $275,000 home, Bloch estimates taxes would increase $110, from $1,473 to $1,583, assuming a $15,000 increase in assessed value.
The proposed budget assumes a tax collection rate of 96.5 percent, compared to the city’s average collection rate of 99 percent. Increasing the amount the city expects to collect would lessen the levy increase, but it would also increase the amount of risk the city is taking, Bloch said.
The general fund certified levy is expected to increase $133,425, or 5.63 percent, while the debt levies are expected to increase $1009,500, or 18.01, due to the 2013 and 2016 street project bonds.
In the general fund, the city’s revenue is expected to increase by $123,345, including $73,239 more in property taxes, $30,206 in local government aid from the state, and $6,000 more in licenses and permits. Permit estimates are based on an assumption of 20 new homes being built, a number that has been surpassed for four or five years, Bloch said.
General fund expenditures are slated to include a $43,420 increase in administration, a $32,370 increase in community services, a $27,130 increase in public safety, a $12,005 increase in finance, a $7,000 increase for the senior center, and a $10,590 decrease in public works.
Administration increases include $16,960 in cost of living adjustments, $10,000 for website redesign, $5,000 for election judge stipends, and $5,000 for an annexation payment to Franklin Township.
Community services increases include $14,320 more for personal services; $6,000 more for park mowing, repairs, and maintenance; $3,500 more for streetscape; $3,000 more for professional services; and $2,000 more for water utilities.
Public safety increases include $14,600 more for police protection and $11,000 more for fire operations. In related business, the council came to a consensus not to increase the amount of contracted hours of service with the Wright County Sheriff’s Office.
Finance increases are due to cost of living adjustments, step increases, insurance contribution increases, building repair and maintenance, and $2,000 more for the assessor’s contract.
Senior center increases are due to cost of living adjustments, step increases, and neighboring cities contributing less than previously budgeted, causing Delano to contribute $7,000 more. It was noted, however, that donations have been increasing.
Much of the public works decrease comes from $10,000 that was allocated for special projects that will now be allocated to the redesign of the city website.
Bloch reminded the council that these numbers are not final.
“Once the preliminary levy is set, we can always lower it,” Bloch said.
The preliminary levy must be set by Sept. 30.
In October, the council will review preliminary draft budgets.
Nov. 28, the council will review updated preliminary draft budgets and the preliminary draft of the 2018-22 capital improvement plan.
The council will hold a public hearing for any comments on the proposed 2018 budget and tax levy Dec. 5, and the council will have until the Dec. 19 meeting to approve it.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• discussed drainage and sump pump issues. The council authorized Assistant City Engineer Shawn Louwagie to get quotes for two drainage improvements. City staff has also recommended a $1 increase of the monthly storm sewer fee to raise an additional $30,000 each year to pay for such projects.
• discussed the concession building in Central Park. It is expected to cost $350,000, paid for by surpluses from 2014 and 2015. An architect is working with the draft person on the concept of the concession stand. The city researched the possibility of the stand doubling as an official storm shelter, but the cost of the change was prohibitive.