by Dennis Dalman
The tax levy for the Sartell city budget for 2014 will increase by 2.3 percent, according to estimates now in the preliminary budget, which was approved by the city council at its Sept. 9 meeting.
The council will consider approving a final budget at a public hearing during the Dec. 9 council meeting. After a preliminary budget is passed, councils can decrease the amount approved, but they cannot increase it, based on state law.
City administrator/financial director Mary Degiovanni said it’s impossible to know at this point what tax increases or – possibly – tax decreases will be. That cannot be known until the city receives its tax-capacity rates from the state. But Degiovanni estimated there should be little or no impact on most taxpayers.
The 2014 budget will be $5.8 million, and of that amount $4.86 million will have to be raised through taxes.
The levy increase, Degiovanni said, is 1 percent higher than the 2012 levy and 2 percent higher than the 2013 levy. The 2013 levy, she noted, was lower than the 2012 levy.
Degiovanni noted the Sartell City Council and the city’s departments have done an excellent job of maintaining and even decreasing budget items during the recession of the last four or five years. The reason for increases, she noted, is to cover expenses for much-needed street projects and for the capital budget, which tucks money away each year for future expenses, such as the purchase of broken or outmoded equipment.
Even the purchase of salt and sand for roads can raise a budget. Last year, because of an extreme winter, the public-works department spent an extra $60,000 for salt and sand. Normally, the department can hold excess salt and sand for the following year, but all of it was used up last winter, leaving no surplus for storage, Degiovanni noted.
There will be less tax revenue from the Verso paper mill because of its ceasing production and damaged facility, Degiovanni noted. She added, however, the diversity of business and industry in the city should offset that loss.
Local-government aid from the state is also a nice plus, she noted, adding next year Sartell will receive $110,000 in LGA after several years of receiving virtually nothing from the state.
More details of the city budget, including its impact on taxes, will be published once the tax-capacity rates are released by the state.