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Proposed Pequot Lakes tax levy lowered by reducing roads/streets budget

The property tax statement Pequot Lakes residents recently received in the mail likely shows a higher number in the city portion of taxes than will be the case.

After meeting Tuesday, Nov. 19, to further reduce the city tax levy for 2014, the Pequot Lakes City Council took action that results in a proposed .23 percent levy increase from 2013 to 2014.

The council reached that percentage by reducing the roads and streets capital outlay budget by $40,000. That passed on a 4-1 vote with council member Jerry Akerson opposed.

Property tax statements recently received use the city’s preliminary levy amount set in September of $1,618,823, which represented an 8.91 percent increase from the 2013 levy. Each year the council adopts a preliminary levy in September but continuously works to reduce the numbers until levy and budget adoption in December.

According to draft meeting minutes from Nov. 19, the latest reduction came after discussions that included leaving the general fund levy with a 2.98 percent increase from 2013, reducing the city police force or scaling back on street improvements.

Akerson questioned the possibility of using a part-time police officer or eliminating an officer. Council member Scott Pederson said reducing the force could have an effect on police contracts.

Mayor Nancy Adams and council members Pederson, Gardner and Dave Sjoblad concurred they did not see the need for police department changes.

A tax equalization policy the city adopted this year to gradually even out city taxes paid by rural and urban taxpayers left Pederson concerned about an increase in rural taxes.

The council discussed the proposed Nelson Road and North Washington Street projects, proposing to reduce those projects’ costs by 10 percent.

Council members voted 4-1 to reduce the roads and streets capital outlay budget by $40,000 to reach a lower levy increase.

The city’s truth in taxation meeting for the public to comment on the proposed 2014 budget and tax levy will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3.