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Small percentage could be added to city's budget

Source: City of Park Rapids

The proposed 2010 Park Rapids general fund budget has a slight increase of 2.61 percent from 2009.

"We're projecting a balanced budget," said City Administrator Bill Smith. "That's based on some key assumptions. We're assuming the economy doesn't plummet any more and we're also assuming that the economy doesn't improve that much either."

The Park Rapids City Council had a work session Tuesday to discuss the budget.

Expenditures total $2,551,881. The main categories in the general fund are public safety, public works, culture (library and parks), community development (natural resources and economic development) and general government.

Revenues primarily consist of property taxes and LGA. The other section includes charges/fees for service, fines, franchise fees, licenses and permits.

"Permits are significantly down," Smith said.

In 2007, permits brought in $111,677 to the city. In 2008 there were $59,257 in permits and the city projected $58,750 for permits in 2009. The city is projecting $45,400 for permits in 2010.

One group came to request more money in the city's budget.

The Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission is asking for $40,000 in 2010, up from $30,000. The city has paid $30,000 to the entity for the past three year.

Hubbard County also contributes to the HCREDC and the rest of the budget comes from private donations.

Kathy Grell, chair of the HCREDC, and Bob Hensel, with J&B Foods, came to speak on behalf of Dave Collins, executive director of the development commission.

Grell said that over the years the budget has expanded and private donations have made up the difference. She is asking that the city increase their allotment to the HCREDC.

She explained that Collins has been instrumental in helping the city and county with projects and is in contact with representatives from Sen. Amy Klobuchar's and Rep. Jim Oberstar's offices.

Hensel said that Dave Collins helped him with the process of building the new J&B Foods.

"This is the time when you have to position yourself," Grell said.

"It's very worthy of your consideration," Hensel added.

Mayor Nancy Carroll said she would support the $40,000 increase and has supported the HCREDC.

Councilwoman Sue Tomte said she also supports the HCREDC and said it's often difficult to see the benefits. The benefits are in bringing in extra grant money, for example.

Others had mixed feelings.

Councilman Pat Mikesh said he has a hard time telling the police department or street department to make cuts and then turn around and give the money to someone else.

Councilman Dave Konshok said he would like to see a breakdown of the HCREDC budget to see where the extra money would go.

"It is the key to growth," councilman Michael Strodtman said about economic development.

But, he added that he has a difficult time thinking about having other departments make cuts while making an increase to the HCREDC.

Collins also attended the meeting and said that many of the benefits of his department are intangible.

He is working on creating more entrepreneurial opportunities and hopes to bring in money through a Small Cities Development Grant.

The city council will discuss the request at a future meeting after looking at a detailed budget from the HCREDC.

The 2010 general fund budget doesn't need to be approved and sent to the state until December.