Spring Lake Park approves final 2014 budget, tax levy

The Spring Lake Park City Council approved a final 2014 budget and property tax levy at its meeting Dec. 16, as well as changes to the 2014 fee schedule.

The budget was approved at $3,623,619, a 6.28 percent increase from this year.

Almost 90 percent of the increase, approximately $190,000, can be attributed to one-time transfers, including debt service on fire department and capital improvement bonds, a transfer to the storm water utility fund and funds to buy down the liquor store transfer with Highway 65 construction scheduled in the coming year.

Without these expenditures, the budget increase would be less than 1 percent in 2014, “which is a symbol of the city’s spending restraint,” City Administrator Dan Buchholtz said.

Public safety expenditures account for nearly half of the overall budget in Spring Lake Park.

The property tax levy increased 6.27 percent from 2013, to $2,751,330. The levy represents three-fourths of the city’s revenue.

The tax levy for the general fund will only increase 0.84 percent; the remaining 5.43 percent increase comes from debt service on a five-year equipment certificate.

“It’s important to note that even with the proposed levy increase, the 2014 payable property tax levy is still $575,440 less than what it was in 2012,” Buchholtz said at the council meeting.

Several changes will occur in the 2014 fee schedule; water and sewer utility rates will remain the same.

Two miscellaneous permit fees will increase to match state surcharge fees.

“It used to be 50 cents,” Buchholtz said of the cost to move a principal structure, “The state temporarily raised it to $5, and then magically, temporary becomes permanent.”

Moving principal structures and moving accessory structures greater than 400 square feet will now cost $5 in Spring Lake Park.

Staff recommended the escrow for specific use permits be reduced from $700 to $500 in an effort to fill vacant commercial space, according to Buchholtz.

By law, video and DVD copy fees must reflect copying costs. The fee was $50 and on Monday, the council reduced the fee to $20 to better represent costs.

Sewer access charges will increase slightly, 40 cents, to match fees set by the Metropolitan Council.

For the first time since 2006, recycling fees will increase, $1.42 per quarter, $9.61 from $8.19.

“If we don’t increase it, we’ll anticipate a nearly $13,000 deficit in the recycling fund for 2014,” Buchholtz said.

The waste management contract will increase nearly 4 percent in 2014 and with commodity prices lower than they have been in previous years, recycled materials will not pay for as much of the recycling contract as they have previously.

The council can always approve a rebate for residents later, Buchholtz said, but “I think that this rate keeps things fairly conservative.”

Water meter instillation fees will increase across the board.

Olivia Koester is at [email protected]