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Council continues to decrease budget, proposed tax levy

The Pequot Lakes City Council and city department heads continue to work to decrease the 2014 budgets and general revenue tax levy.

The council hopes to continue to reduce budgets to get closer to a 2 percent general tax levy increase over 2013.

Budget cuts made in the last month total $68,350, which has reduced the proposed preliminary general revenue tax levy from an 8.91 percent increase from 2013 to a 4.22 percent increase.

The preliminary levy currently stands at $1,519,518.

The council needs to cut an additional $32,518 to reach a 2 percent tax increase, or $18,518 to reach a 3 percent increase.

The council learned Tuesday, Oct. 1, that cities won’t have to pay sales tax on certain items in 2014, and that the city will receive $7,831 more than anticipated in police state aid.

The city paid approximately $17,000 in sales tax in 2012, but not all of that was in levy funds.

Department heads will take those two ideas into consideration to continue to tweak and reduce their budgets before final adoption of budgets and the general revenue tax levy in December.

“Well, let’s take a whack at it,” Mayor Nancy Adams said.

Crow Wing

County sheriff

The council heard from Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl, who talked about drugs and distracted driving.

Dahl said with the fluctuation of people this area sees during the warm weather months, law enforcement officers also see a fluctuation in drugs in the area.

Methamphetamines and high-grade marijuana are being seen, and some drugs have been traced to Mexico, California and Canada, Dahl said.

Distracted driving is also a problem, with more motorcycle fatalities and crashes in general throughout the state, Dahl said. He noted speed and cell phone use. When sitting at a stoplight he sees people of all ages on cell phones.

The county also has dealt with a recent rash of burglaries, Dahl said.

In other business Oct. 1, the council:

• Agreed to close the clerk’s office the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 28.

• Agreed with the planning commission’s recommendation not to buy the Buschmann property on County Road 112 but instead leave it under private ownership. Buying the property wouldn’t be compatible with the city’s comprehensive plan.

• Appointed Todd Engels, a licensed contractor, to the Planning Commission with a term to expire Dec. 31, 2014, and accepted Scott Snyder’s resignation from that commission.

• Hired Phil Stanley as a part-time police officer at $17.56 per hour to replace Chad Turcotte, whom the city hired as police sergeant.

• Learned the city’s building permit fees are comparable to area cities’ fees.

• Paid a partial pay estimate of $41,380 for work on the 2013 sidewalk project. That’s not the total amount.

• Learned the fire department had four calls in September, including two to Pequot Lakes and one each to Breezy Point and Nisswa. Calls included two good intent (canceled enroute) and one each grass fire and mutual aid structure fire.