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October 21, 2017

9/14/2017 2:51:00 PM
Taylors Falls Council sets early 2018 levy

Taylors Falls City Council voted 5-0 to adopt a maximum preliminary levy for 2018 taxes of $644,341. The levy for this year is operating at $643,234.  This supports a total increase of about 4 percent proposed for the overall budget.  The city’s general fund budget this year is approximately $620,000.  The 2018 budget  is approximately $645,000.

(Beyond the general fund are special funds for water, sewer, stormwater, special projects, debt service, etc.)

The city finalizes the levy and budget in December. The Truth in Taxation public informational hearing is Dec 11.

The council met in Wednesday morning workshops six times,  to put this upcoming budget together and Mayor Mike Buchite thanked all the council for their team effort and dedication.  

The main goal in setting Taylors Falls spending has been to lower the tax rate-- which the mayor noted will fall again slightly next year, as it has the past few years.
Some highlights are:
~ Revenues from leasing fire hall-city hall office space to the county;  so the sheriff’s patrol deputy has a desk and a place to do interviews when he’s in Taylors Falls, will drop off in 2018. The sheriff informed Taylors Falls the rent won’t be budgeted for in 2018. This is a loss of $5,379 to the city.
The city also increased the patrol budget to address the sheriff’s increase in the hourly rate for law enforcement services.

~ In planning for after 2018,  the council was cognizant that the budget will need to cover 40 hours for the two city hall staffers. This year the zoning administrator stays at 32 hours and clerk Mary Tomnitz goes to 40 hours.

~The Fire Department needs escalate come 2018 and the budget for the department is proposed for an increase of about $10,000 (from $48,000 to $58,000.) Council also followed its auditor’s recommendation and closed out the charitable gambling account for the fire department and transferred the monies into the fire equipment fund. The balance was $19,649.  There are no charitable gambling activities through the fire department anymore.
~ The line item for the council increases by some seven percent. This is for funding of Lighting Festival and Wannigan Days expenses, there is no increase directly for the city council.

Speaking of Wannigan Days, the city will trademark the name.

Council was concerned there might someday be a battle over the use of Wannigan.  The city will have a trademark attorney expedite the legal process for the city to control the lawful use.  The council voted 5-0 to not exceed $1,200 for trademarking.  

Mayor Buchite stressed that this is to protect the city, and isn’t meant to be parochial over the ‘wannigan’ term.  If, for example St Croix Falls wants to continue to utilize the word Taylors Falls has no issues with that.  “We just don’t want to have our use of ‘Wannigan Days’ taken away from us someday,” Buchite stated.

The city of St Croix Falls joined in with Taylors Falls’ Wannigan Days starting in the early 1960s.  Before that, according to historic information provided at the council meeting, St Croix Falls celebrated a boat race event,  above the dam called the Silver Dollar Regatta.

Taylors Falls started its Wannigan Days in 1958 when the state celebrated its 100th birthday and all cities in Minnesota were encouraged to develop a town celebration.

And, Border Cities financial aid was approved for 10 of 11 applicants.  The state program provides special aid ($50,000 in Taylors Falls’ case) which comes either as property tax credit or credit on income tax for any new jobs created.

Zoning official Adam Berklund said the applicants all qualified for the $5,000 maximum in aid, except for one,  which receives $4,500 under the state guidelines.  The leftover $500 goes into an economic development account, saved for, hopefully, boosting Border Cities state aid the city will seek again next year.

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AnnMarie Brink - US Bank

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