Annexations won’t affect levy

The recent annexations will not permit an increase in the city’s levy limit.

Such was the message given the Little Falls City Council by the city’s financial officer, Lori Kasella. “The state tells us to what amount we can go,” she explained. “The amount doesn’t factor in growth. It doesn’t matter to them if we have more roads to plow, or more police protection to give. No, the amount won’t change in 2005, either. That’s simply what the legislature says.”

The council has proposed, what with the dramatic cut in local government aid (LGA), from the state, setting the levy for next year “at the maximum”—$2,140,721.

Kasella did point out that the annexations could mean a slight reduction in property taxes for some city residents since the payments to cover the levy “will be spread out more.”

An explanation of the proposed levy will be given at the Truth in Taxation public heating Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Kasella also spoke of measures suggested to reduce the budget for 2004. As she explained, the equipment fund had requests totaling $441,000. That amount was taken down to $170,000. “We typically transfer $180,000 from the general fund for these expenses,” she added.

Items deemed necessary with the $170,000, continued Kasella, include $27,000 for a new heating and cooling system at city hall. The furnace in the building now has a 60 percent efficiency and runs constantly. In addition, $6,500 are needed for new windows. None of the present windows can be opened.

Needed at the two mansions at Linden Hill are a $3,000 gas fireplace for keeping the main floor warm, and $5,000 for new sewer lines to the caretaker’s house. The rent money from the latter goes for operating expenses at the conference center.

In discussing the complex further, Don Klinker reported the house also needed new windows and paint. “They’ll never pay for themselves,” he added. Bringing up the fact that the endowment fund for the homes was at $600,000, the suggestion was made to use part of it for the necessary repairs. Most agreed to the suggestion.

Other items said to be necessary included:

• A bobcat, with a price tag of $20,000 for the park and rec department;

• A one-ton truck costing $36,000, a payment of $20,000 toward a motor grader and $19,000 for a three-quarter-ton pickup truck for the street department; and

• For the police department, a squad car with radar for $27,500, a new phone system for $5,000 and another in-car video for $5,000.

With the elimination of placing any funds into Linden Hill, the total amount for the items thought crucial from the equipment fund thus came under $170,000. Looking at this, the suggestion was made to use any excess money for a new vehicle for the city and/or into the construction of a new street department building.

Turning to specific funds, Kasella related that, in most cases, the proposed amount does not meet the requested amount. These included:

• A proposed $181,150 for the mayor and council compared to a requested $184,150;

• A proposed $10,850 for civil defense compared to a requested $850. The reason for the increase in this instance is the need for new sirens;

• A proposed $125,300 for public works compared to a request for $162,300;

• A proposed $76,600 for snow removal compared to a request for $71,600. The reason cited for the increase was the addition of more streets;

• A proposed $135,550 for the fire department compared to a request for $191,050;

• A proposed $48,500 the library compared to a requested $48,350;

• A proposed $296,700 for the park and recreation department compared to a request for $331,950;

• A proposed $48,500 for the library compared to a requested $48,350;

• A proposed $296,700 for the park and recreation department compared to a request for $331,950;

• A proposal of $1,158,200 for the wastewater department compared to a request for $1,118,500; and

• A proposal of $138,750 for the airport which is the same as requested.

“But, we still haven’t addressed the street department building, the new roof at the library or the rebatement for the Sunrise Addition,” concluded Kasella. “We still have lots of needs not being met.”

In other business discussed at their planning meeting, the council members received an update on:

• The Hennepin Paper Mill cleanup. As of Nov. 19, most of the abatement of the asbestos and lead paint was complete, except for the boiler room; and

• The former IGA building on the city’s west side. According to the latest study by Widseth Smith Nolting, “The site is eligible for a ‘No further action’ determination.”

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