The tax levy for 2019 is up in North Branch by just shy of three percent. The council adopted the levy last week on a 4-0 vote with Council member Robert Canada excused. The 2018 levy was $131,995 less than what the city wants to collect next year-- $4,711,775.
Council member Canada would have been a no vote. He said, in a memo entered into the record in his absence, that he wanted a one-half of one percent increase.
Financial Director Richard Hill mentioned during the council meeting that North Branch’s increases have averaged annually--for 11 levy cycles-- at .86 percent.
Council member Kathy Blomquist commented that small increases are necessary, and noted the county commissioners went with just under eight percent for 2019’s increase because they have done “too little” in many prior years and “are catching up.”
Council member Jim Swenson, the Mayor-elect, stated the city is wise to increase conservatively in order to take small steps towards addressing needs.
Exiting Mayor Kirsten Hagen Kennedy said Hill has always brought in “well thought out” budgets and is very careful with taxpayers’ money. Of city staff in general, she said “We have a pretty great team.”
The council also heard that North Branch is the subject of next year’s Hallberg Center for the Arts “Our Town” arts event.
The Wyoming Area Creative Arts Community’s exhibit is open to the public every summer. It contains artworks and historic items highlighting a local area. Art pieces can be paintings, photos, sculptures, etc. but must take inspiration or harken to a scene or landmark of the area featured. Watch this paper for calls for entries or check the WACAC website. City Administrator Renae Fry shared that some interesting historic city artifacts have been located to accompany the exhibit, such a 1903 ledger of births in town.
At the outset of the council meeting the city recognized its North Branch Area High School volleyball champions with a proclamation and refreshments. The girls brought home the first NBHS state championship trophy since 1966.
Polling sites for 2019 remain the same. Action maintained Precinct A voting at Access Church, Precinct B at Mainstreet Church and Precinct C at the Senior Center.