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Winsted plans for 5 percent tax increase
Dec. 8, 2017

By Starrla Cray
Associate Editor

WINSTED – City property taxes for the median valued home in Winsted ($158,456) are expected to be about $53 higher in 2018 compared to 2017.

The final 2018 property tax levy of $1,274,601 will be certified at the Tuesday, Dec. 19 meeting. The 2017 levy was $1,213,855.

Winsted’s water and sewer rates are also slated to change for 2018. A household with an average monthly usage of 6,000 gallons could expect to pay about $6.32 more for water in 2018, and about $92.61 more for sewer.

“Considering everything we have going on, I’m pleased with how the budget turned out,” Council Member Tom Ollig said at the city council work session Dec. 5. Ollig was referring to a number of expensive projects in the city, such as wastewater treatment facility improvements, water tower recoating, lift station improvements, and more.

At a truth-in-taxation hearing during Tuesday’s Winsted City Council meeting, City Administrator Dan Tienter presented an overview of expenses and revenues.

The city had originally planned for a 5.32-percent increase, but it was reduced to 5 percent, partially due to a change in the fire department budget. About $26,800 had been planned for an on-call compensation system for firefighters, but this has not yet been approved by the fire board. The council indicated that the goal is to implement an on-call system in the future.

The capital improvement equipment fund includes the purchase of a ladder truck from the City of Eagan, which was approved at a previous council meeting. The price for the 2002 ladder truck is about $330,000, which is a savings of about $170,000 compared to what the city had planned to pay for the truck a few years ago. Because of this lower cost, the city doesn’t need to issue debt for the purchase, resulting in interest savings of about $37,707.

The fire department’s operation budget for 2018 includes revenue of $206,907 and expenditures of $205,335. The City of Winsted supports about 68 percent of fire department expenditures. The department is also supported by the townships of Winsted, Hollywood, Victor, and Woodland. A per-unit fire protection fee of $127 is planned for 2018.

Fire protection is one part of the city’s general fund budget. This fund also includes general government, public safety, public works, administration, mayor/city council compensation, parks, engineering services, the public library, legal counsel, building inspections, assessor, and the planning commission.

City wages and salaries are expected to rise a total of $3,700 compared to 2017. Health care insurance costs increased about 10 percent, and dental insurance remained flat. Website maintenance will decrease about $1,610.

About 51 percent of Winsted’s general fund is supported by local property taxes. The state supports 36 percent, and the remaining 13 percent comes from fees, fines, permits, and other miscellaneous sources.

Local government aid (LGA) in Winsted increased by $10,643 this year, and the state also granted Winsted an additional $17,581 for street projects.

Winsted has a higher industrial/commercial base compared to the average city in Minnesota. Residential accounts for 50 percent, and commercial/industrial accounts for 36 percent (the average is 30 percent). Other property tax classifications in Winsted include non-residential homestead (13 percent) and agricultural (1 percent).

A commercial/industrial property valued at $1 million can expect to pay about $573 more in local property taxes in 2018, assuming no change in valuation from last year.

In general, Winsted’s property values have been increasing in recent years. The median home was valued at $119,916 in 2015. That number increased to $141,148 in 2016; $157,011 in 2017, and is now at $158,456.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, Jan. 2 at 6 p.m. (during the regular city council meeting) to consider changing city fees.

• authorized an agreement with the Winsted Lake Watershed Association for collaboration on water quality improvements for Winsted Lake. Bolton & Menk will prepare four Best Practices Feasibility Summaries.

• accepted the voluntary resignation of Brent Mickolichek as a part-time police officer with the Winsted Police Department, and authorized a severance agreement.

• authorized Bolton & Menk to prepare preliminary design, final design, and other activities related to the proposed sanitary sewer lift stations improvement project, at a cost not to exceed $64,000.

• approved a resolution for a cost-sharing arrangement wiht McLeod County for the County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 5 corridor study. The plan is to split the $40,000 cost evenly, so the city’s portion would be $20,000. The county board will consider approving this resolution at its Tuesday, Dec. 19 meeting.

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