By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
For the first time in five years, the Little Falls City Council was able to approve a decrease in its preliminary property tax levy — .9 percent — largely due to an increase of nearly $350,000 in local government aid (LGA).
Once set, the preliminary levy may be lowered, but not raised.
Monday, the Council voted to lower the levy further and approved a final 2014 property tax levy at $3.218 million, a 3.88 percent decrease from 2013 ($3.348 million).
City Administrator Dan Vogt said Monday during the public hearing, that LGA represented more than half of the city’s budget revenues, with property taxes generating about 32.53 percent.
With the levy reduction, a residential property valued at $145,000, should see a reduction in city taxes of about $84. A commercial property valued at $125,000, would see a decrease of about $132 in city property taxes and a commercial property valued at $800,000, a decrease of $1,064.
In addition, the city’s health insurance premiums decreased, because Vogt pointed out city staff was careful in using health care.
The balanced budget ($9.648 million) included equal expense and revenues for the general fund ($4.630 million); Housing Redevelopment Authority ($75,600); Heritage Preservation Commission ($16,100); Park and Recreation ($392,550); airport ($191,700); water ($1.623 million); waste ($1.798 million); garbage and recycling ($441,500), storm water ($83,000) and the golf course ($396,350).
The budget also includes an increase in the city’s capital improvement fund of $100,000, for a total of $399,000.
Some of the capital improvement plans include purchasing a dump truck plow/sander ($155,000); replacing the roof at the City Hall ($75,000); replacing the roof at the police station ($50,000), purchasing a new squad car with equipment ($40,000) and upgrading the phone system at the police station ($4,500), a new pickup with snow plow for the park and rec department ($30,000) and a pickup for the engineering department ($30,000), a jet machine vacuum trailer ($9,500) and $5,000 for a tree study, among others.
Vogt said in calculating the budget, staff adjusted numbers according to what was actually expended in 2013.
The city kept its contributions to various agencies at 2013 levels, including $29,000 for Community Services; $110,000 for the Pine Grove Zoo; $6,600 as part of a contract with the Friends of the Pine Grove Zoo for certain labor done around the Pine Grove Park, $5,500 for the Initiative Foundation, $25,000 for the Animal Humane Society and $12,400 for the Little Falls Senior Center.