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Park Rapids budgets $5.5 million for 2022

The accompanying $2.9 million property tax levy is a 5% increase on the year, but taxpayers may actually pay less than in 2021.

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To read this pie chart of Park Rapids' 2022 revenue budget, start with receipts in the upper right and continue down the list of revenue sources, moving clockwise around the circle. Receipts would include payments on fees and utility bills. Contributed / City of Park Rapids, Dec. 15, 2021

The Park Rapids City Council on Dec. 14 adopted a $5.5 million general fund budget and a $2.9 million property tax levy for 2022.

During a Truth in Taxation hearing to discuss the city’s budget, levy and five-year capital improvement plan (CIP), City Administrator Angel Weasner explained that in 2021, the city had a levy of $2,792,818, a 0.26% increase from the 2020 levy.

In comparison, the 2022 levy of $2,932,460 is a 5% increase over the 2021 levy. According to the council’s resolution, this includes a general fund levy of $2,176,914, with the balance in special levies to repay general obligation bonds.

With 2,083 households in Park Rapids, based on the 2020 census, Weasner said next year’s levy averages to about $1,408 per household for the year, or $117 per month.

For that amount, she said, residents receive fire and police protection, snow removal, street cleaning and maintenance, building inspections, planning and zoning administration, parks and recreation opportunities, and access to a public library and a municipal airport.

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Weasner said the council decided not to decrease the preliminary levy set in September after being informed of an increase in the city’s tax capacity. Despite the increase in levy, she projected a decrease in property owners’ taxes, assuming their valuation stays the same.

The city’s tax capacity, which is pegged to the market value of taxpayers’ property, increased this year by $688,968, Weasner said, for a total net tax capacity of $4,304,472.

To illustrate the effect of this tax capacity increase, she said a home valued at $150,000 was taxed $1,158 this year, and will be taxed $1,022 next year.

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City Administrator Angel Weasner explained that the increase in Park Rapids' net tax capacity means that property owners should see a decrease in their actual taxes, assuming their valuation stays the same. Contributed / City of Park Rapids, Dec. 15, 2021

Besides the tax levy, Weasner said, the city expects revenues in 2022 to include $605,806 in local government aid (LGA) and a $1,250,000 grant from the Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) for the Fair Avenue project. Total proposed revenue is $5,512,554.

Meanwhile, the 2022 general fund expenditure budget totals $5,505,554. Weasner said the largest expenditure areas will be $2,122,240 for highways, streets and roads, primarily due to the Fair Avenue project and $1,442,316 for police.

Among other costs shown in Weasner’s budget presentation were $452,628 for administration, $343,679 for the fire department, $156,350 for planning and zoning, $153,489 for parks, $109,583 for the library and $104,786 for street lighting.

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121821.N.PRE.PRGFExpenseBudget.jpg
This breakdown of projected general fund expenses in 2022 shows the types of services Park Rapids residents get for their property tax dollars. The largest expense, for highways, streets and roads, will be partially offset by a $1.25 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Total budgeted expenses are $5,505,554. Contributed / City of Park Rapids, Dec. 15, 2021

Weasner said the city’s 2022 general fund budget increased 35% over 2021, due to the Fair Avenue project. However, she also noted that the city’s LGA revenue is increasing by $15,665 and besides the LRIP grant, the city has also been awarded a $250,000 Land and Water Conservation (LAWCON) grant for reconstruction of the Depot Park tennis courts and a $167,666 Firefighter Assistance Grant to replace the fire department’s self-contained breathing apparatus, and continues to apply for grant funding.

Capital improvement plan

Weasner also presented the city’s CIP for 2022-26. Capital improvement projects identified for 2022 total $5,712,201, including the $1 million airport taxilane project, the $3.8 million Fair Avenue project.

Estimated project costs for 2023 currently total $1.6 million, Weasner said. She also quoted CIP totals of $323,600 for 2024, $2.88 million for 2025 and $2 million for 2026, with these estimated costs subject to change at any time.

For more information about property taxes and city services, Weasner suggested viewing a video by the League of Minnesota Cities at www.lmc.org or www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOAxwqh41iA.

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To read this pie chart of Park Rapids' 2022 revenue budget, start with receipts in the upper right and continue down the list of revenue sources, moving clockwise around the circle. Receipts would include payments on fees and utility bills. Contributed / City of Park Rapids, Dec. 15, 2021

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Public comment

Deb Stearns, a resident on Riverside Avenue South, said the street is in bad shape and hasn’t been repaired, and though she hasn’t made any improvements recently, her tax bill went up about $700 per year. She asked why.

Weasner advised Stearns to appeal her valuation at the city’s board of equalization hearing in April. She also offered to look over Stearns’ tax statement, but said the city assessor is responsible for property valuation.

Asked why the city’s Truth in Taxation hearing was scheduled for the same time as the county’s, Weasner said she didn’t learn about the conflict until it was too late and said they will coordinate better in the future.

Council member Erika Randall also noted that the county board changed its meeting time.

Randall made the motions to adopt the budget and levy, and council member Tom Conway made the motion to approve the CIP. All three motions passed unanimously.

Randall urged city staff to plan a council workshop about the CIP for next year. “As we learned last month,” she said, “the council’s eyes haven’t been on it for a few years.”

Weasner said they will probably have that workshop in July, after collecting requests from staff.

In consent items and general business, the council:

  • Heard Rapids Spirits Liquor Store manager Scott Olson report that the store sign facing State Hwy. 34 was repaired.

  • Approved submitting an updated Water System Emergency Response Plan to the Environmental Protection Agency, with the addition of a risk and resiliency plan as required by the American Water Infrastructure Act.

  • Accepted the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund established under the American Rescue Plan Act. The city has been allocated $462,810 through the State of Minnesota to cover costs associated with containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Authorized city staff to work on upgrades to Pioneer Park to be completed in spring 2022. Planned improvements include installing an irrigation system, sod, and additional “soldier row” pathway pavers in the park, using parkland dedication funds.

  • Gave part-time liquor store clerk Colleen Taylor a pay increase to $14.54 per hour and the 18-month step, per the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189 contract.

  • Paid TKDA $35,502 for work on the terminal area taxilanes project at the municipal airport. The pay request included receipts for workers’ lodging, meals and mileage.

  • Paid Apex Engineering $24,557 for work on the industrial park drainage, U.S. Hwy. 71 frontage roads, Fair Avenue, Career Path and airport utility projects.

  • Authorized city staff not to waive the monetary limits on municipal tort liability.

  • Acknowledged donations totaling $2,025 from Nov. 23 to Dec. 3, including $1,750 for the Depot Park tennis courts project.

  • Approved payables totaling $95,184 and prepaids totaling $126,933.

The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 28 at city hall.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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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