12/29/2017 11:32:00 AM Lindstrom Council carves early levy from four to one percent hike
There were just three residents in the audience for last week’s Lindstrom property tax levy hearing.
The council then acted 4-1 with David Waldoch opposed, on a stripped-down budget from what council proposed in the fall for the maximum. The levy was proposed to increase over four percent, but the council sharpened the pencils on the budget over the last several weeks, and eliminated $64,000 from what was adopted for the September preliminary budget numbers.
The county has to compile all the preliminary levy numbers from cities and schools, and do the calculations, and mail out the tax statements in time for the local public taxation hearings. Often the statements depict a larger tax bill than what is adopted as a final levy in December actions. This will be the case in Lindstrom.
Lindstrom is asking city property owners for more property tax than it did for 2017, by about 1.8 percent.
The General Fund budget for 2018 is $2,648,649. Local property tax revenues are $2,097,659 of this, with the rest of the budget covered by other governmental aid, municipal liquor profits, permits, fines, development fees, etc.
Council member Waldoch doesn’t support the financial impact of Lindstrom increasing wages three percent for 2018. He said staff wages have gone up over the last few years in excess of the ordinary marketplace and beyond what social security has granted.
City Administrator John Olinger provided actual numbers of wage agreements since 2010; when wages stayed stagnant. In 2011 staff got a one percent raise, 2012 it was 1.5 percent, 2014, 2015 and 2016 it was 2.5 percent and last year 2.75 percent.
Council set the budget under the assumption that Franconia is not contracting for fire service for 2018. The Franconia Township Board reportedly has not communicated to Lindstrom officially, but the Shafer-Franconia Fire Department is reported to be the township’s primary contracted fire service provider now.
Mayor Keith Carlson questioned who is going to arrive at a fire in west Franconia faster-- Shafer firefighters from downtown Shafer-- or Lindstrom, from the Highway 8 fire hall right nearby. Dispatchers will send more than a single department to most structure fires, Lakes Area Chief of Police Schlumbohm advised council.
There are eight-and-a-half sections of Franconia Township that Lindstrom has historically had a contract for being the primary fire department response, at an agreed-upon reimbursement. “I hope they are making informed decisions (on the Town Board)” Mayor Carlson commented.
In other matters: council certified about $53,000 in unpaid or severely delinquent utility or service fees to taxes. The owed amounts must get paid if the parcels change hands. This is less than what it has been in some years, which have been as much as $80,000, council was advised.
~ A motion directing staff to solicit quotes for upcoming street rehabilitation projects passed unanimoulsy.
~ The Comprehensive Plan was approved. The planner/consultant Rita Trapp said city code wll now be aligned with this document, which is a “10,000 foot view” of Lindstrom future land uses. The city hasn’t addressed its comp plan or done an update since 1998.
~ Chief Schlumbohm reported on a neighborhood meeting called to create open exchnage of information regarding issues with a group home in the North Meadows area. He said it went well. Area chiefs of police also took a tour of the new county jail under construction in Center City. The tour was for input on operational functions and for suggestions on how to imrpove the layout and logistics. The jail is tentatively scheduled for opening in April 2018.
~ The city council organizational meeting for 2018 is January 4 at city hall at 4 p.m.