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Pequot Lakes adopts preliminary 2014 tax levy

The Pequot Lakes City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 3, adopted a preliminary 2014 tax levy of $1,618,823.

Though that’s an 8.91 percent increase, or $132,391, from the 2013 levy of $1,486,432, Mayor Nancy Adams assured residents the final levy adopted in December will be less than this preliminary levy.

The deadline for cities to adopt preliminary levies is Sept. 15. Preliminary levy amounts cannot increase, but can decrease, after being set.

The council will hold a truth in taxation meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, for the public to comment on the proposed levy and budget. The council then will likely adopt a final budget and levy at the regular council meeting that night.

The preliminary tax levy number includes a general revenue fund property tax levy of $1,587,868 and a tax abatement levy for Pequot Lakes SuperValu of $30,955.

This will mark the third of 13 years for the tax abatement levy for SuperValu. Before the store was built, the city agreed to abate the city’s portion of taxes on the increased value of the development back to the developer from 2012-24.

The 2014 tax abatement levy is $2,523 more than this year.

The council also adopted a Housing and Redevelopment Authority special levy of $38,250 (the same as the past couple of years).

Adams said she finds it extremely annoying and confusing to the public when budgets include whole costs for projects, when in reality the council has already saved a portion of the money.

She cited the roads budget and elections budget as examples.

“We already have put away a good portion from this year to use next year,” she said of the roads budget. “We’ve actually been very frugal in doing it.”

Adams noted the council last year put half of the elections budget away for next year, though the 2014 budget shows the entire election budget.

“I personally find it frustrating,” she said.

Proposed expenditure increases of $5,000 or more include:

Tax levy funds: wages and benefits; planning and zoning contract services for an environmental flyover; roads and streets engineering fees for two road projects tentatively scheduled for 2014; roads and streets capital outlay and carryover for two road projects tentatively scheduled for 2014 (the city will also use remaining capital outlay funds from 2013); roads and streets debt service to buy dump/plow truck; park capital outlay for Sibley Lake Park power lines project (the city will use remaining capital outlay funds from 2013); and economic development operating supplies for banners and marketing.

Other funds: fire debt service to buy fire truck; and sewer capital outlay for sewer line on North Washington Street.