Wadena levy to jump 20 percent

Wadena's 2008 levy will likely increase about 20 percent due primarily to bond payments that will begin next year. The city council discussed the preliminary levy on Aug. 30 and managed to keep the city's 2008 day-to-day budget relatively flat co...

Wadena's 2008 levy will likely increase about 20 percent due primarily to bond payments that will begin next year.

The city council discussed the preliminary levy on Aug. 30 and managed to keep the city's 2008 day-to-day budget relatively flat compared to 2007, except for some inflation. However, the additional bond payments for street improvement bonds in 2006 and police/fire renovations in 2007 will increase the levy.

City Administrator Brad Swenson said taxpayers won't necessarily see a 20 percent increase in taxes. New construction would increase the tax capacity. Also, estimated market values for properties in the city of Wadena could increase.

The council will adopt the preliminary taxy levy at its next meeting and have a truth in taxation meeting in December. The final tax levy will be adopted in December.

Over several hours on Aug. 30, the council worked to trim $318,686 from proposed budget items from department heads and other requests. Most cuts came from capital requests.


The council discussed several budget items in detail.

  • Partners for a Healthy Wadena Region requested $6,000 from the city for creating a tourism center in the Burlington Northern Depot. Mayor Wayne Wolden questioned whether the tourism center would be different than the Chamber of Commerce. Councilman Pete Phillips also questioned the proposal and whether it was a duplication of services.

The city also received a $3,500 request from the Wadena Area Chamber of Commerce for the Wad of Fun summer promotion.
The council decided to budget $5,000 for advertising and promotion in 2008 but didn't earmark where the funds would go yet. Council members wanted more information before they decided where to designate the funds. It could go to Partners or the Chamber of Commerce.

  • Work will likely begin on a Wadena comprehensive plan in 2008. The last plan was done in 1987, but Byron Larson, planning and zoning director, said at a previous meeting that a comprehensive plan should be updated, at least in part, every five years. The city designated $10,000 to start on a comprehensive plan.
  • Ron Bucholz, public works director, requested a new dump truck. He said one dump truck has been replaced every five years. The department has four dump trucks. He also wanted to replace a 4x4 pickup truck. The council decided to designate $35,000 toward a dump truck. The requested amount was $106,110 but the council thought the $35,000 could be spent either on a used dump truck or go toward a new dump truck in a few years. The council decided not to approve a new pickup truck.
  • A group of skaters wanted to have more intermediate-skill pieces in the skate park in northwest Wadena. The city council designated $5,000 toward the skate park improvements and said the group of kids could look into fundraising for the project.
  • The council decided not to budget for a new Jaws of Life for $25,000 for the fire department. The department has Jaws of Life now and the council decided that was sufficient.
  • The police department will invest in three squad car mobile computers. The sheriff's department has already been using mobile computers. Three computers will cost $24,000 and can be paid over three years, said Police Chief Bruce Uselman at a previous meeting. The city budgeted $8,000 for 2008.

Uselman also requested keeping a fourth squad car when the department purchases a new car. He said the vehicle would be used as an investigator's vehicle and would not cost much to keep. The council said it wasn't comfortable with the department having a fourth vehicle and the request was not approved.

  • A proposal to purchase the Rousslang property (the former Carter Oil) near the Wadena City Library was part of budget discussions. The asking price is $90,000 and the thought was it would cost $30,000 to tear down the building and convert the property into a parking lot. There is concern as to what kind of clean up might need to be done on the property because it used to be a gas station. The city council approved $20,000 for 2008 to start discussions about the property. The library could be interested in expanding in the near future.
  • The council decided to begin looking at the southeast Wadena infrastructure project. Ulteig Engineers has estimated the project to be about $6.25 million. In 2008, preliminary engineering could begin. The city budgeted $10,000.
  • City Administrator Brad Swenson requested a half-time staff person for his office. He said the staff is already pushed and Swenson himself has been putting in a lot more time. He estimated a half-time person would cost $17,000 and to change a current half time position to full time would cost about $24,000. The council left about $18,000 extra in the preliminary levy with the possibility of adding a half-time person after more discussion.
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