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Park Rapids looks to 2013

The graphic shows a comparison of budgets for the last four years.1 / 2
The graphic shows a breakdown of expenditures by category.2 / 2

Park Rapids' proposed 2013 budget is a 4.35 percent increase from 2012.

The 2013 general fund budget is proposed at $2,716,361, a $118,071 increase, the city council learned at its Tuesday meeting. The majority of the increase is in the public works department for seal coating.

Seal coating throughout the city has been pushed down the road for years and city engineer Jon Olson said it was necessary to catch up on the street maintenance.

If seal coating is neglected roads will need to be replaced, which is even more costly, he suggested at an earlier meeting.

City staff made some assumptions as they were preparing the budget, including that Local Government Aid would not be adjusted or withheld. The 2012 amount was $314,126 from the state.

Although negotiations aren't completed for some of the unions, staff assumed a pay raise for employees.

The public safety proposed budget for 2013 is $1,218,269, up $53,170 from 2012. Police Chief Terry Eilers said much of the increase is due to step changes in payroll. Another additional budget item is a payment in the four-year COPS grant (Community Oriented Policing Services). The grant covers an officer's salary for three years and requires the city to pay for the fourth year.

"This is my third COPS grant," Eilers said. "It has provided us with extra help over the years."

He estimates that over the years the COPS grants have brought in close to half a million in federal dollars.

The police department will also be switching to a new radio system later this year and it is still finding funding for a few more radios, Eilers said. He has found funding to cover most of the cost.

His department has rarely budgeted for equipment in recent years. It is able to use forfeiture funds to cover most equipment purchases.

The police department has been saving money in recent years in training as well. Many trainings are available online so officers don't need to travel.

Public works is budgeting $75,000 for seal coating city streets in 2013. Staff will identify the streets that need the most work to start.

"The ball has been tossed around but it's critical," said city administrator Bill Smith.

Other additions to the budget include replacing the basement carpet in the library, which is covered in stains, and new election booths, which have mold stains.

The council will review the proposal and approve a preliminary budget at its next meeting in September. That budget will be sent to the state and can't be increased after that point. It can be lowered at a later date.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561