Regional rail authority to reduce budget by 10 percent

A 10 percent reduction is proposed in the Anoka County Regional Rail Authority’s 2013 property tax levy.

Without dissent Aug. 28, the rail authority, which comprises the seven members of the Anoka County Board approved a preliminary levy of $2,022,976 for next year.

That compares with a 2012 levy of $2,247,751 and a 2011 levy of $4,244,507.

The preliminary levy can be reduced, but it cannot be increased when the rail authority takes final action on the 2013 levy in December.

The preliminary budget for next year is $2,651,628 with $628,652 coming from reserve funds to make up the difference between the proposed expenditures and the tax levy.

“The highlight is a 10 percent reduction in the tax levy,” said County Commissioner Matt Look, rail authority chairperson.

According to Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah, it is important to note that the majority of the rail authority’s expenditures in 2013 is for bond payment on debt service.

Indeed, the rail authority’s 2013 bond payment for its share of the Northstar Commuter Rail project cost will be $2,157,081 in 2013.

Proposed cuts in the 2013 budget from this year include:

• $100,000 for lobbyists, eliminating that expense altogether from the 2013 budget. “There is not much need for lobbyists now,” Look said.

• Reduction in outside professional services from $90,000 to $35,000.

• Reduction in cost of work done for the rail authority by Anoka County departments – GIS, highway and survey – from $10,000 to $5,000.

• Cut in rail authority property maintenance from $30,000 to $6,000.

• Eliminating $33,000 in professional services for transit oriented development.

• Reduction of $2,000 from $10,000 to $8,000 for tax assessments, lights, sewer, curb etc.

• Cut from $64,000 to $2,200 in corridor development, eliminating all funding for NLX and Highway 65 alternative analysis and allocating $2,200 for Rush Line corridor development.

• Eliminating $8,000 for transit way impact study.

The only increase in the budget comes under the rail authority administration line item, which is proposed to go up from $28,600 to $42,600.

According to Tim Yantos, rail authority executive director, that is a reflection of more of his time being spent on rail authority business now that he is no longer involved as much in the administration of the Anoka County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

In addition to allocating $628,652 of reserves to the 2013 budget, the rail authority Aug. 28 also took action to use $100,000 in unallocated reserve dollars to pay a portion of the cost of purchasing audio visual equipment for the Anoka County Board room.

“We are participating in the cost because the rail authority holds its meetings in the county board room,” Look said.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]