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Park Rapids looks to increase funds for development

David Collins

The Park Rapids City Council was scheduled to set the 2011 levy at Tuesday's meeting, with more money allotted to economic development.

The Enterprise went to press before the meeting.

At a budget meeting last week, city administrator Bill Smith said he had good news and bad news.

"The good news is it looks a lot like last year's budget. The bad news is, it looks a lot like last year's budget," he said.

The maximum amount the city can levy for 2011 is $1,482,245, up from the 2010 maximum of $1,406,032.

The estimated Local Government Aid for 2011 is $451,727 but LGA has been cut the last few years making it difficult for cities to rely on for budgeting purposes.

"We've been advised that the state has a large deficit and we don't know what will happen with LGA," Smith said.

For now, the proposed amount will be used for planning purposes.

The biggest expenditure for the city is public safety, with $851,000 of the budget. Much of the amount comes from personnel. Chief Terry Eilers has been asked to spend less on overtime in 2011.

"We've been doing a pretty good job keeping the overtime down," Eilers said.

Fuel is another large expenditure for the department.

The Fire Relief Association sent a request this year for the city to contribute money to the pension. Also, the association's bylaws need to be revised, which will require attorney fees.

The city had to transfer money to the relief association earlier this year because funds were not performing as expected. The council discussed adding some money in the budget for those items.

The Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission requested $50,000 from the city in 2011. This is an increase from the $35,000 contributed from the city in 2010 and $30,000 in 2009.

Dave Collins, HCREDC executive director, said the commission has gotten by on reserves but needs additional funding to complete projects it would like to do. Ideally, the commission is funded in equal thirds between the city, Hubbard County and private donations.

"The staff has not had raises for the last three years and there's a number of things we can't do" without additional funding, Collins said.

The majority of the council was in favor of increasing HCREDC funding to $40,000 in 2011. Councilmember Pat Mikesh was in favor of budgeting $35,000 while Sue Tomte, Rod Nordberg, Paul Utke and Nancy Carroll expressed interest in increasing the funding.

The increase in HCREDC funding and fire department items could be off set in part by more revenue. The city will add a gas franchise fee in 2011, which will add about $30,000 to the city's revenue.

The 2011 levy was expected to be set Tuesday, with the understanding it could be lowered by December.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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