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Menahga council sets 3 percent tax levy increase, cuts budget

The Menahga Truth in Taxation hearing didn't attract many people Monday night.

A couple of residents sat in the audience as the council approved a $10,000 levy increase - from $322,364 in 2009 to $332,364 in 2010.

But one councilwoman opposed the 3.1 percent increase that was first proposed in September.

Maxine Norman said she would like to see a 0 percent increase, citing the current economic conditions as a reason good enough to not raise taxes.

"I'd like to see us work down ... wherever we can tighten the belt," she said.

The proposed 2010 general fund budget was cut from approximately $764,000 to $755,000.

Trimming the budget more in order to avoid a tax increase would mean cutting back on services, councilwoman Kim Rasmussen said.

"If we're going to trim back, people are going to have to not expect the type of services that they've had in the past," she said. "We can't go out and plow then every time we get a quarter of an inch of snow."

Mayor Tom Larson agreed and said how much can the city keep slashing before feeling the pinch when Local Government Aid continues to be cut through 2010.

According to the budget, the liquor store fund was cut by about $20,000 and the street department also took a decrease of $7,500.

"One of the issues we're having with budgets is we've been sitting relatively good for several years now," said city administrator Teri Osterman. "But we keep trimming and trimming and trimming the budget and the state keeps taking and taking and taking on the other side, so therefore we're always battling the LGA and where we're going."

Norman suggested cutting back on travel and conference expenses by doing more webinars whenever possible, not cutting the grass as much in the summer and watching spending in each department.

"If it can be done in other cities I think we can be creative here too," she said.

The budget could be amended any time during the year, so the council passed the levy keeping in mind that if trimming the budget was necessary, then it will done next year.

But Larson and Rasmussen said they worried about the dismal LGA funds expected next year and the $10,000 increase is necessary at this time.

Additionally, Rasmussen said some people's taxes didn't go up, which means not that many residents will be unhappy with the decision.

"Some people took an increase in taxes, but a lot of people took decreases in valuations," she said. "I think you can see it from the people that showed up tonight."