Ramsey spending up, tax levy down projected for 2013

While the proposed 2013 levy for the city of Ramsey will decrease, the city’s budget could increase by 8.5 percent for 2013.

The Ramsey City Council Sept. 11 unanimously approved a preliminary 2013 general fund budget of $10,466,337, an increase of $818,262 from the 2012 budget.

Its total 2013 preliminary levy of $7,998,213 is a 4.9 percent decrease from this year’s $8,413,798 levy.

The city will be using transfers from other city funds, such as tax increment financing districts, landfill tipping fee fund, park maintenance fund and the equipment certificate fund plus intergovenmental revenues, charges for services, licences and permits, rental fees and engineering services to make up the difference between the levy and budget, said Finance Director Diana Lund.

The biggest difference in the budget is the capital funds, said Lund.

There is an additional $1 million in the budget for road reconstruction, she said.

Also in the proposed 2013 budget is $463,000 for capital equipment, including three police cars, a plow truck, a mega mower and the purchase of a fire truck, which was budgeted for in the 2012 and 2013 budgets.

The proposed 2013 budget also includes an increase in consulting costs.

The building inspections contract will be increasing by $25,000 and the city may be spending $15,000 for a joint fire services consultant.

The city also included a 1 percent cost of living adjustment for its staff, an total increase of $46,377.

City personnel costs make up approximately 55 percent of the general fund.

There are fewer staff positions included in the 2013 budget.

The city eliminated the deputy city administrator, city clerk, public works/city engineer director, the fire secretary, a police officer and a part-time building maintenance positions.

The city also reduced how often it will be sending out the city newsletter to save $20,000.

There will be two new staff positions added in 2013, an engineering technician and a economic development (ED)/housing and redevelopment authority (HRA) manager.

The ED/HRA manger will be funded through the EDA, HRA and tax increment financing, Lund said.

A Truth in Taxation hearing will be held during the council’s Dec. 11 meeting after which the council will adopt a final levy and budget.

EDA

Although the EDA (Economic Development Authority) had asked for its proposed 2013 levy to remain steady, the city council decided to reduce it. Last year the EDA’s levy was cut by 42 percent to $169,853 and the authority has spent down its reserves, said Chris Riley, committee chairman.

The proposed $104,466 levy is about 50 percent of the allowed levy, he said.

While Councilmember Randy Backous said he appreciates what the EDA does, he will not support a maximum EDA levy.

Councilmember David Elvig is concerned that if the levy is decreased too much the EDA could have to cut projects.

It is possible the EDA would not have the dollars to do stand alone projects that will bring relief to the tax base, he said.

The EDA still has $600,000 in its reserves, according to Councilmember Jason Tossey.

The EDA also has a revolving fund and there are other resources in place, said City Administrator Kurt Ulrich.

HRA 

The council, acting as the HRA, also cut the HRA’s levy to $187,268 from its proposed maximum of $328,567 amount.

“I don’t think we need the maximum levy,” Backous said.

Elvig agreed.

The county is already taxing residents for the HRA and he won’t vote for the maximum levy, he said.

The city plans on requesting the $236,000 that the county HRA has collected from Ramsey residents, said Ulrich.

Until the city knows it can get the county HRA funds and what they can be used for, HRA member Jeff Wise said he is against making that high of a cut.

Without seeing a budget that reflects the need for that high of a levy, HRA member Sarah Strommen said she could not vote for the higher levy.

The higher levy amount was suggested because the HRA will have to pay for part of the EDA/HRA manager’s wage, said Mayor Bob Ramsey.

Tammy Sakry is at tammy.sakry@ecm-inc.com

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