The Park Rapids City Council had a Truth in Taxation hearing Tuesday and approved the city’s final 2020 general fund budget and property tax levy.

The general fund budget, as approved, totals $3,492,327.

The total 2020 tax levy was set at $2,785,613. This includes $2,063,286 for the general fund, plus $722,327 for special levies to pay down bonds.

City Treasurer Angela Brumbaugh gave the council a breakdown, explaining that:

  • The total 2020 levy represents a 4.22 percent increase from 2019.

  • Property taxes make up about 60 percent of general fund revenue. Other revenue makes up 24 percent and includes franchise fees, license permits, fees and fines.

  • Local Government Aid (LGA) from the state makes up the remaining 16 percent of budgeted revenue, comparable to 2001 levels. LGA covered as much as 31 percent of the city’s budget when it peaked in 2002, before the state Legislature cut LGA in 2003.

  • Salaries total about $1,569,000, about 45 percent of general fund expenditures.

  • Line items for workers’ compensation and property insurance went up 3 percent and vehicle insurance 2 percent, based on advice from the League of Minnesota Cities.

  • Public safety is the largest slice of general fund expenditures at about 50 percent, followed by general government at 24 percent, public works at 18 percent, culture at 7 percent and community development at 2 percent.

  • Of $1.73 million budgeted for public safety, police expenses account for 78 percent ($1.35 million), followed by fire at 16 percent and building, rental and plumbing inspections totaling 6 percent.

  • The police budget is increasing $143,000 because a school resource officer was added this year; a more experienced officer was hired to replace one who had quit; and state-mandated retirement assistance for police went up.

  • Of $623,734 budgeted for public works, 72 percent ($447,000) is for streets and highways, followed by 15 percent for street lighting, 11 percent for ice and snow removal and 2 percent for sidewalks and crosswalks.

  • Most of next year’s $8,600 (2 percent) increase for streets and highways is for the city’s share of a fueling facility that Hubbard County plans to upgrade. Street lighting costs are decreasing due to the energy savings from switching to LED. Ice and snow costs are increasing 10 percent for fuel and repairs.

  • The $247,000 budgeted for culture breaks down to 57 percent ($141,000) for parks and 43 percent ($106,000) for the library. Library expenses are increasing $6,000, partly due to an increase in support requested by the Kitchigami Regional Library System. The $8,000 increase for parks is for wages and agricultural lime.

  • The $69,000 budgeted for community development breaks down to 69 percent ($48,000) for economic development and 31 percent ($21,000) for natural resources. The council upped its support of the Heartland Lakes Development Commission by $8,000 last year. For natural resources, the city has to spend $2 per capita, or about $8,500, to keep its Tree City USA designation.

  • The $822,000 budgeted for general government breaks down to 42 percent ($346,000) for administration, 18 percent ($149,000) for planning and zoning, 10 percent for attorney fees, 8 percent for unallocated expenses, 7 percent for the city hall building, 5 percent for assessor fees, 4 percent for the city council, 3 percent for transit, 2 percent for contractual services and 1 percent for elections.

  • The total budget for all 10 general government departments is increasing only $1,900. Administration costs are actually decreasing, but election expenses will be higher in 2020 with elections in March, August and November.

Brumbaugh said her full presentation will be available on the city’s website, ci.park-rapids.mn.us, under “Finance” on the “Departments” menu.

In separate motions, council member Erika Randall moved to adopt the budget and levy. Both motions passed unopposed.

In consent items and general business, the city council:

  • Paid the Heartland Lakes Development Commission $28,000 for economic development services during the second half of 2019.

  • Paid the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities $6,947 for 2020 membership dues.

  • Paid Lee Davis Electric Inc. a final $5,096 and accepted their contract work for completing the 2018 airport apron lighting upgrade.

  • Paid Hough Inc. a final $28,613 and accepted their contract work for completing the 2018 main pump station improvement project.

  • Approved five-year photocopier leases totaling $30,194 from Liberty Business Products for a Lanier copier at city hall, and $8,034 from Marco Technologies for the police department’s Konica copier. Both companies submitted quotes for both contracts.

  • Approved wage adjustments and step increases for City Planner Andrew Mack and Police Sgt. Robert Gilmore. Gilmore’s pay was increased to $30.25 per hour and Mack’s to $25.69, effective Dec. 1.

  • Authorized the surplus sale of a 1998 Ford Econoline ambulance from the city fire department, and approved the fire department’s purchase of a 1994 Chevy Kodiak rescue vehicle with 114,000 miles on it for $16,500, using fundraising proceeds.

  • Paid the Law Enforcement Technology Group LLC $6,898 for 2020 software maintenance for the police department.

  • Paid Ferguson Waterworks $1,992 for software support for the public works water department’s Neptune water meter system.

  • Approved payables totaling $18,300 and prepaids totaling $2,297,311.

  • Recognized accounting administrative assistant Janel Stewart and Police Sgt. Robert Gilmore for five years of employment with the city.

The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 at city hall.