Chisago City Council on March 25 welcomed an annual audit from Abdo, Eick and Meyers. Conducted last month, it confirmed that the city’s general fund balance continues to rise in relation to the yearly budget. The city also remains below others of similar size in debt and taxes levied per capita. The Dec. 31, 2013, general fund balance of $905,969 is 52.5 percent of the city’s 2014 general fund budget of $1.724 million.
That brings the city to the top end of the state’s recommended scale for fund balance maintenance. Because cities do not typically get their first property tax revenues until June each year, they rely mostly on fund balance from the preceding year to cover expenses through winter and spring. Chisago City’s ending fund balance for 2010 dropped as a percentage of its budget for 2011, to 36.3 percent, and the percentage has grown in each successive year.
The audit noted that while the city’s taxes increased from 2012 to 2013, along with spending on capital and other needs, those figures are still below average for Minnesota cities with populations of 2,500 to 10,000. The city’s capital spending rose from $66 to $106 per capita in 2013, but that is one-third of the $298 average from 2012. Overall spending grew from $364 to $382 per capita in 2013, below the $649 average from 2012. Taxes increased by $4 per capita, or less than 1 percent, from 2012 to 2013. The city continues to reduce its debt from year to year, from $1,741 per capita in 2010 to $1,225 last year.
Other business After his Bunkies’ Bar and Grill had no alcohol service for two weekends as a sanction for underage serving, business owner Richard Berget appealed to the Chisago council March 25 for reconsidering a $2,000 fine. After the bar endured a two-day shutdown after Christmas Day 2013 in response to sales to a minor last November, the city issued a fine and a new liquor ban to cover the last three weekends in March after police reported consumption and service by a minor (under 18) Jan. 9. Police said they observed the January violations after being called to the bar on reports of fighting. Berget told the council March 25 he did not think it was fair for his liquor license to be suspended two days in December for the error of a bartender. He further said that he disputed a minor would have been serving alcohol Jan. 9, but he added that he could not know with certainty. “I don’t think so (about a minor serving). It could have been. I wasn’t there,” Berget said. “We also know, officers make mistakes.” As for not being present when the council discussed and approved the fine and March liquor ban at a meeting Feb. 25, Berget said he had not received the notice of that meeting which city staff said was sent Feb. 18.
Council agreed to appoint Mark Holl to an open seat on the Planning Commission. Holl wrote on an application that he is a configuration planner for Unisys Corporation and that he is interested in community development, land use and infrastructure planning.