City ponders 2.9 percent levy increaseWORTHINGTON — The city council will not exceed a 2.9 percent increase to the city’s 2010 tax levy, members decided during a Thursday meeting.
By: Laura Grevas, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — The city council will not exceed a 2.9 percent increase to the city’s 2010 tax levy, members decided during a Thursday meeting.
That percentage will be officially pre-certified at the council’s Monday meeting, but is subject to decrease before the 2010 budget and levy are finalized in December. It cannot increase.
Council members hope to pare down the number, ideally to last year’s increase of 1.9 percent.
Using the 2.9 percent figure, the levy would increase by about $75,000, up from 2009’s roughly $2.6 million levy.
Of the predicted $2.67 million 2010 levy, about $1.7 million comes from general purpose tax levy. That places the city below the nearly $2 million general purpose levy limit set by the state.
Council also discussed some ‘big ticket’ items that could affect the levy amount set. For example, they will likely use only half of $400,000 in tax collected for street overlay projects.
Finance Director Brian Kolander said the full amount is rarely used on road projects, and council members said now might be an appropriate time to scale back.
“In tight years the public doesn’t expect all the roads to be done the same way… I think there’d be a question of how prudent we’re being,” Alderman Mike Woll said. “I don’t want our roads to fall apart, but I’d be in favor of taking $100,000 off (the $400,000 amount).”
Additional money needed for street repairs will likely come out of engineering department reserves.
Members also halved the amount they’ll levy for future Clean Water Partnership reserves to $25,000, and changed the way the $240,000 cost of street lighting will be funded. The amount levied will be reduced to $190,000 (the lighting is currently fully funded by the levy), and the additional $50,000 will come from a separate utility fund. Council discussed dividing the cost for lighting more evenly among all users, instead of levying based on property value.
Members will also continue discussion on possible use of an Economic Development Authority levy to fund Worthington Regional Economic Development Corporation marketing projects. The city’s EDA could levy up to $86,000, but the city’s present contribution of $41,000 to WREDC would be taken away, resulting in $45,000 overall for the WREDC.
The council discussed several options for dealing with WREDC’s funding needs, including using hospital sale funds instead of a levy or increasing the city’s funding to $50,000 for WREDC this year and delaying the EDA levy discussion another year.
“I want to have more money for economic development, I just hate to put it on the taxpayers this year,” Alderman Mike Kuhle said.
“I was opposed to the EDA going from $9 to $27 (per $100,000 valuation),” added Alderman Lyle Ten Haken. “I’m not opposed to seeing some things done, but I’m not in favor of a three-fold increase.”
In other business Thursday, the council learned of a change to the Prairie View Golf Links budget. According to calculations based on updated projections, revenues are expected to increase by about $21,000 due to an increase in predicted revenues from green fees and cart rental fees. The total expected revenue for 2010 is now $219,000, still down from $227,730 last year.