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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • Granite Falls sets budget and levy, calls for utility and street project hearings

  • The Granite Falls City Council used its last meeting of the year to establish some important groundwork it will need to navigate 2013.
    Headlining Monday’s meeting were council actions that included the approval of the 2013 budget and levy and a call for public hearing for both the proposed 2013 utility and street improvement projects.
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  • The Granite Falls City Council used its last meeting of the year to establish some important groundwork it will need to navigate 2013.
    Headlining Monday’s meeting were council actions that included the approval of the 2013 budget and levy and a call for public hearing for both the proposed 2013 utility and street improvement projects.
    During the previous meeting on December 3, a Truth in Taxation hearing was held to provide the public an opportunity to be educated and/or provide input in regard to the city budget.
    Perhaps it was because the city was in a position to reduce the city’s tax levy for 2013, but there was no public in attendance with concerns as well as no real disagreement amongst the council. Thus, the 2013 General Fund Budget and tax levy was passed expeditiously.
    Overall the council approved a General Fund Budget that will increase from $2.113 million in 2012 to approximately $2.21 million for 2013, which is a difference of $97,414 or 4.61  percent. According to City Manager  Bill Lavin, increases to the city’s budgetary expenses were largely driven by a 16.2 percent group health insurance hike as well as increases to city salaries and fringe benefits.
    Typically additional budgetary expenses must be accounted for either through cuts and/or tax increases but an unexpected increase in Local Government Aid (LGA) spared council members from having to consider such options.
    During the prior three years, the amount of LGA that the city has received from the state had remained frozen.  In 2013, however, a new LGA formula increased the city’s allotment to $717,911, an $86,046 gain.
    The total tax levy is a composite of the general fund and debt levies.  In 2013 the general fund –– which is dedicated to financing annual services such as those performed by the public works and the police and fire departments –– will remain equal to the 2012 levy of $824,453, while the 2013 debt levy –– used for special projects like street and other infrastructure improvements –– is actually down $17,000 from 2012 to 687,000.
    In sum, the 2013 general fund and debt levies comes to $1,511,533, which is a $17,000 or 1.13 percent decrease from last year. This means that, per capita, taxes levied will equal $525 as opposed to $527 in 2012.
    Utility and Street
    Improvement Projects
    Plans for the city’s 2013 Utility and Street Improvement Projects have evolved over the course of the year as the Granite Falls City Council and City Engineer Dave Berryman have worked to develop a plan for addressing street and utility upkeep in a fiscally responsible manner.
    “Most of these projects identified haven’t been touched in over 20 years. There are over 40 miles of street in the city and there’s a lot to do, but you have to keep up with it. If you don’t, you end up getting clobbered all at once.” said Mayor Dave Smiglewski in regard to street improvement plan.
    Page 2 of 2 - The proposed street and utility improvement projects are detailed in two separate plans.
    The utility improvement projects involve a sum total of $585,000 in work that will include improvements to watermain loops, located south of Highway 212 at 9th St. and 14th Ave., and to storm sewers, located in the industrial park, the alley between 8th and 9th Ave. and at the high school track.  
    The estimated costs for street improvement project, meanwhile, comes to $553,000. This includes work planned for 8th St., from 7th Ave. to 10th Ave.; the alley between 10th and 11th Avenues, from 2nd St. to 3rd St.;  the entrance to Memorial Park;  Bergeson Drive and, finally, patching/miscellaneous projects.
    The percentage of costs allotted to the city and that which will be assessed to property owners will vary depending on the particular city statute associated with a specific project. In addition, the council has proposed adjusting its assessment policy for businesses when it comes to storm sewer work in light of property owner project costs concerns.
    Information detailing that which would  be assessed to property owners impacted by the projects will be included within public hearing notices.
    Council members unanimously approved calling for the hearing which is set to be held Tuesday, February 19 at 8:00 p.m. for the utility projects and on the same day at 8:30 p.m. for street projects.
    In other news, the council made citizen board and commission appointments, designated the Advocate Tribune as the city’s official newspaper and named both Granite Falls and Citizens Alliance Banks the designated depository of city funds.

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