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Park Rapids City Council approves 2014 levy

BY Anna Erickson

The Park Rapids City Council approved the 2014 tax levy at $2,298,117 at its Truth in Taxation meeting Tuesday.

The levy includes $1,622,217 for the general fund with the rest going toward bond repayment and tax abatement.

Councilman Dave W. Konshok said the finance committee met and worked to reduce the preliminary budget that was presented in September.

“I would like to commend our department heads as well as our staff for being very reasonable in trying to control costs. They were very willing participants in the process.

“There were no major areas for cuts so it was a lot of nickels and dimes,” he added.

“We brought the budget down” in the general fund, Konshok said. The finance committee trimmed $65,181 off the budget that was proposed in September.

The bond repayment increased, though. That can fluxuate each year based on the bond portfolio, he said.

A number of residents were at the hearing from Henrietta Township. The city has an orderly annexation agreement with the township.

City treasurer Angela Brumbaugh said the properties that were annexed in 2012 will see a slow increase in taxes from the city – 10 percent each year.

Councilman Paul Utke said he would like to remove the membership to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities from the budget. The city also belongs to the League of Minnesota Cities.

“I’d like to see that $5,800 used somewhere in the city,” he said.

Councilman Rod Nordberg said the coalition has been helpful in providing annual legislative information and he has attended workshops.

“They do lobbying for us,” he said. “I think that it provides us help and resources to call upon … I’m in favor of continuing it.”

Konshok is also in favor of continuing the membership to the coalition.

“I do think the coalition is a pretty strong advocate and provides a good counterpoint to the metro voice,” he said.

The 2014 levy and budget were approved as presented.

In other business, the council:

n Approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Verizon Wireless to amend an existing CUP to allow installation of an emergency generator and containment system at 201 Huntsinger Avenue.

n Had the second reading of the ordinance amending the city’s water and sewer fees.

Water rates are increasing due to the construction of a water treatment plant on the west side of town. The water treatment plant will help the city combat high nitrate levels in water.

Studies have shown that fertilizers can cause high nitrate levels.

The council is moving ahead with a 25 percent increase to the base fee and an increase in the usage rate from $3.15 to $3.99 per 1,000 gallons up to 15,000 gallons. Usage rates increase as people use more water.

n Approved a request from Alan Zemek, representing Armory Square, for a $25,000 loan from the Small Cities Energy Efficiency grant. The loan funding comes from a grant the city received from the state. The interest rate is 3.5 percent for 84 months.

n Approved an agreement to use engineering services of Apex Engineering Group Inc. Jon Olson will be the city’s engineer once again.

He had previously worked for Ulteig Engineering and was the city’s engineer while they were under an agreement with that company.

n Approved ordering the preparation of a preliminary engineering report for the Riverside Phase I utility and street improvement project in Park Rapids.