The Park Rapids City Council approved an updated 2020 general fund budget and tax levy Tuesday for discussion at a Truth in Taxation hearing in December.

The city’s Truth in Taxation hearing will take place at the next council meeting, 6 p.m. Dec. 10 at city hall.

As presented by City Treasurer Angela Brumbaugh, the expenditure budget included finance committee recommendations in response to the questions discussed at the council’s Sept. 10 budget workshop.

The adjusted general fund budget totaled $3,492,747, a decrease of $22,722 from what was previously proposed.

Adjustments included an $18,500 decrease for changing replacement of the city’s air siren to repair; a $5,328 increase in the city’s contributions to employee health insurance due to an employee switching from single to family coverage; an additional $450 for administrative staff conference registration; and a $10,000 decrease for a wheel loader grapple, which was removed.

The total 2020 levy after these adjustments is $2,063,706 for the general fund only, or $2,786,033 including the bond levy. Compared to 2019, this is an increase of $106,813 or 5.46 percent for the general fund levy, $117,635 or 4.41 percent including bonds.

Council member Erika Randall moved approval of the budget and levy, with an amendment to delete the line-item for landline phone service to the fire hall, since the fire department is switching to a wireless tablet and data plan.

During discussion, it was agreed that a landline should not be needed even if a security alarm system is installed at the fire hall, which was the reason it was previously kept on the budget.

Also discussed was the budget for city attorney services, for which a 2019 budget-to-actual comparison was complicated by three factors: a separation between civil and criminal accounts created this year; a share of the attorney costs coming out of enterprise funds; and an expectation that legal fees for the Armory purchase will be reimbursed out of a state grant. Randall questioned whether the budget for legal services will be enough, and advised staff to keep an eye on it for next year’s budget.

Randall’s motion passed without dissent.

In consent items and general business, the city council:

  • Paid F.I.R.E. $5,480 for basic firefighter training for four firefighters.

  • Paid Apex Engineering Group $53,993 for professional services regarding various city projects during September and October, including the U.S. Hwy. 71 frontage road project, main pump station improvements and water tower rehabilitation.

  • Authorized the sale of surplus city property, specifically seven Verizon iPhones with Otterbox cases, valued at approximately $115 each. Funds will go toward the general fund.

  • Appointed Michael Novack and Dennis Bure as part-time municipal liquor store clerks.

  • Heard a presentation by ICS Consulting, Inc. about the results of the Park Rapids Area Schools community listening sessions.

  • Voted not to waive the tort limits for liability insurance with the League of Minnesota Cities. By not waiving the state’s statutory limits of $500,000 per person and $1.5 million total for a single occurrence, the city will receive a lower insurance premium.

  • Designated city hall as the 2020 election polling place for Park Rapids city precincts 1 and 2.

  • Approved payables totaling $16,982 and prepaids totaling $88,944.

The council went into closed session to discuss strategies for negotiating labor agreements with the United Food and Commercial Workers and Police Teamsters unions.