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September 15, 2019

9/5/2019 3:01:00 PM
Council's budgeting goal is a less than 6% increase

The Lindstrom City Council worked on the 2020 levy and budget line-by-line last week and the consensus at the end of the work session is to hold the increase for next year to just under six percent, as a preliminary amount for September action so tax statements can be estimated.  The final levy gets adopted towards the end of the year.

Lindstrom finance director Kay Mattson was directed to make a few minor adjustments from council’s working documents,  and have a preliminary levy up 5.8 percent from last year ready for council to adopt this month.  
The preliminary levy can not be increased but can be reduced,  as final numbers have to go to the county to calculate property taxes.

Lindstrom is estimated to be have an increased overall market valuation of some 11 percent, according to county data.  Mattson though,  said being conservative she is using calculations of a little less than that.  

Even with the levy increase, the tax rate will drop, as valuation is part of the formula too.  Lindstrom is looking at going into 2020 with a tax rate of 48 to 49.7 percent compared to 51.2 percent currently.

The number of properties paying into the city levy grew by 20 homesites, City Administrator John Olinger commented.   The city’s actual market valuation is known in November, in time for final action in December.
The General Fund that was discussed doesn’t include

“enterprise funds” like sewer and water that have revenue from outside of property taxes.  

Lindstrom’s 2020 budget in total, with debt service and EDA levies, last year was budgeted at $2,165,381.  If the proposed 2020 levy is ultimately adopted at the work session amount preferred by council last week, the number will be $2,285,531.

A few line items reviewed included the plan to install a columbarium at Fairview Cemetery.  This project would be paid for from an interfund loan and not impact taxes.  Sales of niches for cremated remains will be used to pay expenses.

The cross country skiing trail grooming agreement between the golf course and city drops to $1,000.  Olinger reminded council the three year agreement began at $3,000 for the city share of ski track track grooming, which went to $2,000 in the second year and will be $1,000 in 2019-2020.  The golf course needs to assume responsibility for the winter amenity if it is to continue.

City staff wages are earmarked in early budgeting for a three percent increase.

There is no code enforcement position budgeted, as was discussed at council meetings as a potential new hire.

Law enforcement department expenditures are the largest single department increase. The Lakes area P.D. was budgeted in the General Fund at $779,916 this year and the 2020 proposed budget is $825,213.


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