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Park Rapids City Council looks at 4% levy increase

The city's preliminary 2023 property tax levy totals about $3.05 million.

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Park Rapids City Hall
Park Rapids Enterprise file photo
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The Park Rapids City Council looked at the city’s 2023 preliminary budget and property tax levy during a work session on Tuesday.

City Administrator Angel Weasner presented the proposed general fund expense budget, totaling $4,635,611, overall a 19.2% decrease compared to actual 2022 expenses.

This preliminary budget also does not include the Fair Avenue street and utility project, which Weasner said will be added later as a budget adjustment following a special assessment hearing in November and bid opening. “There will be offsetting revenue from a bond and some reserves,” she said.

The city’s debt service budget for 2023 totals $1,177,888, bringing the total budget to be supported by the levy and Local Government Aid (LGA) to $5,813,499, 15.3% lower than 2022.

Meanwhile, the preliminary general fund levy totals $3,048,251, a 4% increase from last year. This includes a regular tax levy of $1.87 million and a bond levy of $1.18 million.

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Weasner emphasized that this does not mean property owners’ tax rates will go up by 4%. She estimated that the owner of a house valued at $100,000 would see a $20 annual increase.

Weasner also projected general fund non-property tax receipts of $2,074,000 and LGA totaling $630,565, only about $25,000 more than last year.

“That’s pretty unfortunate, given the surplus in the state,” council member Erika Randall commented.

In addition to the general fund, the city’s 2023 budget projects expenses totaling $243,727 for the airport, about $3.15 million for the water fund, $2.46 million for the sewer fund, $385,000 for the stormwater fund, $3.6 million for the liquor fund and $99,000 for the public works and safety building internal service fund. However, none of these funds receive levy dollars.

Mayor Ryan Leckner recalled from finance committee meetings that the main areas where the budget increased were salaries and insurance, while other increases and decreases represent adjustments in how money is allocated between departments.

Randall advised that, while the budget anticipates across-the-board wage increases, some non-union employees will not see an increase next year because the city recently adjusted their wages. “We have to take a different look at those,” she said.

Noting that employers are seeing high turnover, council member Tom Conway suggested keeping an eye on the labor market.

“Staying competitive on the wages should be a concern,” he said. “So, even if we did just adjust, we ought to be paying attention to how competitive they stay on a six-month time period.”

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Randall suggested watching how other governments are doing, adding, “There are some positions that I can tell you that I wouldn’t support mirroring whatever is negotiated.”

She added that the city is getting better at setting aside money each year for major purchases. “We’re doing that for more and more things,” she said. “Even putting $5,000 a year aside for turnout gear for the fire department is gonna make a huge difference in our budget, five years from now.”

Asked if she knows what the city’s tax capacity looks like, Weasner said this won’t be known until late October or early November, but she was given a rough estimate of $4,754,704 to work with – an increase of $400,000 since last year.

MORE RELATED COVERAGE:
Two conditional use permits and two planning and zoning requests were approved on Nov. 22.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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