Preliminary Oak Grove levy sees 5 percent decrease in city taxes

The preliminary 2013 tax levy has been set by the Oak Grove City Council.

Councilmembers unanimously approved the preliminary levy at their Sept. 10 meeting.

Overall, the preliminary levy for the city is decreasing $126,845 or 5 percent from what is being levied in 2012.

In 2013 the proposed total levy is $2,410,062 compared with the 2012 total levy of $2,536,907.

As proposed in the preliminary budget, Oak Grove’s general fund levy will be $2,183,364 in 2013. In 2012 the city’s general fund levy is $2,320,404. That is a $137,040 or 5.91 percent decrease in the coming year.

The city’s proposed Economic Development Authority (EDA) levy is set to remain unchanged at $13,519 in 2013.

Oak Grove will also levy for debt payment on two bonds totaling $57,687 and $155,492, respectively.

Changes in proposed 2013 expenditures include a decrease of $32,011 in salaries and benefits to reflect changes in staffing from full-time to part-time.

With the pending retirement of the executive administrative assistant at the end of the year, City Administrator Rick Juba said the city is not planning to fill the position. Instead, a part-time position is included in the budget in case there is need for more assistance in the office.

Human resources duties will move to the city’s financial consultant, AEM, which will result in an increase of approximately $12,000 in outside services.

As part of the personnel changes, the accounting tech/office rep position will switch from part-time to full-time in the coming year.

The city’s planning and zoning expenditures are planned to decrease in 2013 by $6,000 to reflect the city’s current engineering requirements.

There will also be a $9,151 decrease in computer services expenditures.

This is due to changes in the city’s computer services, namely eliminating the contract with Logis for computer programs and support.

“I think budgets will go down in the future as we get comfortable operating the way we have been the past year,” Juba told the council at an Aug. 27 meeting.

Oak Grove’s police services budget will increase $6,096 to $498,600 as part of the second year of a two-year contract with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

Mayor Mark Korin, at the Aug. 27 meeting, said he would like to see the 2013 levy reduced by 5 to 10 percent from 2012.

“There comes a point where you can’t cut just to have a reduction,” said Councilmember Mike Wylie. “What it costs the city is what it costs.”

Councilmember Kevin Robinson said he is comfortable with the budget where it is at.

“We ran it (the city) like a business and we did a good job at it,” he said.

Korin agreed. “We have looked at things differently,” he said.

Cities are required to submit their preliminary levy to Anoka County by Sept. 15.

Once the preliminary levy amount is set, councilmembers can keep the levy the same or reduce it. The levy cannot be increased.

Oak Grove residents can comment on the final 2013 budget and levy at a hearing Dec. 10.

Kelly Johnson is at [email protected]