City Manager Bill Lavin recently acknowledged that the next time Granite Falls City Council sets its annual budget and levy, he’ll likely be at home watching the council roll call from the comfort of his couch as the meeting broadcasts on TV.

City Manager Bill Lavin recently acknowledged that the next time Granite Falls City Council sets its annual budget and levy, he’ll likely be at home watching the council roll call from the comfort of his couch as the meeting broadcasts on TV.

For the past 30 years, Lavin has helped to set the course of city operations  and in his last year at the helm, he’ll be exiting his post exclamation point defined by five straight years in which the Granite Falls community wherein taxpayers have experienced a zero net increase to their city taxes... or less.

“It very gratifying that we are able to increase our budget a bit to meet our ongoing needs without having to raise our general fund levy,” said Mayor Dave Smiglewski.

With the increase in Local Government Aid and a 2.5 percent decrease in insurance costs, on Monday the Granite Falls City Council was able to hold firm on taxes despite the significant amounts of development going on around the community. In fact, the combined general and debt service levy of $1.512 million actually represents a .21 percent decrease.

Following state statute, council members set the preliminary levy during Tuesday’s council meeting prior to a September 15 state deadline. Once established, the council may only lower the preliminary levy prior to the final December 19 acceptance date, as raising it would require special legislative action.

The total tax levy is a composite of the general fund and debt levies. In 2016, the general fund levy will remain at $824,453, the same amount it has been for the past four years.

Meanwhile, the 2016 debt service levy, which is used to pay for special projects like street and other infrastructure improvements, saw a marginal decrease as it was reduced from $691,200 to $688,000.

Overall the General Fund budget, which is dedicated to financing annual services such as those performed by the public works and the police and fire departments, will increase from $2,419,580 in 2015, to $2,482,477 in 2016, an increase of $62,897 which is 2.6 percent.

“The budget is evidence of some very good work by our city administration and staff,” said Smiglewski.

In other news:
•Former resident Ted Thull kicked off Monday’s City Council meeting asking the city for an extension to complete  a residential property located at 124 Fromm Circle. The property   has been under construction for nearly 16 years.

Thull read a letter aloud to the council in which he asked that he be allowed to complete the residence, which at one time he said was to be his dream home, so that it could become the dream abode of another.

Issues inhibiting the completion of the project revolve around construction elements that failed to meet state building code and which must be rectified before the city Building

Inspector is able to grant a permit for the structure. Thull stated that he has a structural engineer lined up to review the problems with the house. the engineer would be available shortly after Christmas.

Given the long history of the city pushing for the project’s completion, and the risk of making obsolete a current legal judgement that authorizes the city to proceed with demolition of the structure, the council members indicated to Thull that they would move forward with a plan that would likely see the building demolished by late winter or early spring. However, they added, Thull could, at the same time and at his own risk, have his engineer proceed with looking over the house, determine the  feasibility of repairs and a timeline for the repairs.

The council seemed to leave open the slight possibility that they could reverse course if they were to determine that significant progress was possible and had been made by Thull.
According to Thull he has approximately $100,000 invested in the project.

•Council members approved an engineering proposal from Gene Dwyer with LS Engineers in the amount of $17,500 to provide engineering services to make additional repairs to the Volstead House discovered while replacing the structures foundation.

According to council information, repairs to the Volstead House front  porch roof beams, rafter and deck and the home’s roof were found to be needed.

•Council approved a $1,000 contribution to the Living At Home Block Nurse Program.

• The Advocate Tribune was re-designated as the City Official Newspaper.

•Citizens Alliance and Granite Falls Bank were redesignated as the depository for city funds.

•Council members approved a YME Hoops Club request to allow the Hanley Falls Fire Department to place Pull Tabs at 7th Avenue Bowl, with the HF Fire Department donating a portion of the funds to the hoops club.  

•Council approved Engineering Design Proposals for a Runway Reclamation Project developed by city airport engineer Bolton and Menk. The full cost of the project is an estimated $115,000 with 90 percent of these funds expected to be covered by a station aviation grant.

•The council approved the reappointment of the following community members to board and commission openings including:

Jean Fagnano to the Planning Commission, LaVonne Koenen to the Hospital Board, Brian Barber to the Airport Commission and Jackie Torvik and Victor Plante to the Kilowatt Community Center.

Additionally the following board and commissions are seeking citizen volunteers. The number of vacancies is in parentheses:

•Planning Commission (1)
•Utilities Commission (3)
•Library Board  (2)
•Hospital Board (1)

Contact City Hall at 320-564-3011 to indicate interest or receive for more information.