Pierz proposes 3 percent increase for 2018 levy

They are not the final levy figures certified for 2018, but the proposed preliminary levy in Pierz is 3 percent higher than in 2017.

It will be just the second time in 11 years that an increase has been proposed in the city’s levy.

The Council voted unanimously Monday for the $8,715 increase, taking the levy to $309,230.

Mayor Toby Egan and Councilman Mike Menden both noted the increase was just preliminary and could still be reduced, but not increased, before being certified to the county.

Egan said the city was trying to increase its street budget, to accommodate future construction projects.

One such project is the Pierz Trail Loop, which will coincide with work in 2020, Morrison County plans to do on County Roads 43 and 39 (Third Avenue North) from Centennial Drive to Kamnic Street.

In 2021, the county plans to improve County Road 283 from Highway 25 to Highway 27 in Genola and in 2020/2021, the county is expected to replace the bridge on Park Avenue by the golf course and include a designated walk/trail on one side of the bridge.

In 2021, the city of Pierz has plans to improve Centennial Drive between Highway 27 and County Road 43 (Third Avenue North).

City Clerk Dave Fischer figured on average the increase would be about $13 per resident That amount will fluctuate with the type of property and value of the property.

“We just need to keep up with our escalating costs,” Fischer said. “Operating costs continue to increase, road maintenance — every little maintenance thing we do costs more money.”

With all of the road construction done over the last 10 years, the city’s street budget has quadrupled, Egan said.

But it’s the general fund that the Council would like to increase.

“Our general fund numbers aren’t where we’d like to see them,” Egan said. Among the items that money funds is the Public Works Department, the Police Department and administration.

“We’re still strong financially, but we have to keep the numbers up,” especially with a couple of the road projects “coming up on us in a hurry,” Egan said. “We have to make sure we plan for that so we don’t have to have huge tax increases or huge assessments.”

Egan said the Council had to start somewhere and after a budget meeting and a workshop, the Council decided 3 percent was that place.

But the Council indicated Monday, the 3 percent was a starting point and plans to hold a workshop in the next couple of months to fine tune the budget. Once that is done, the Finance Committee will meet and make a recommendation to the Council whether to decrease the final levy or leave it where it is, the only two options it has.

“Maybe we can get it to 2 or 1.5 percent or somewhere like that. We had to set a place to start. We can’t go up; all we can do is go down,” Egan said.

The Council set a Truth in Taxation public meeting for Monday, Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

The final 2018 levy must be certified to the county by the end of December.

Pierz City Council Briefs

At Monday’s meeting, the Pierz City Council:

  • Approved hiring Phil Scribner as the training officer for the Pierz Fire Department, upon the recommendation of Chief Chris Young. Young said Scribner was very involved and very knowledgeable; and
  • Approved building permits for Red’s Auto and Bait to replace concrete and redo its parking lot; Chris Hoheisel to add cold storage to his business in Industrial Park; and Essentia Health – Pierz Clinic, for signs.

The Council next meets Monday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m. at City Hall.