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Crosslake: Administrator proposes lower tax levy

The Crosslake City Council held a special budget meeting Monday, Oct. 23, and City Administrator Mike Lyonais brought forth a plan for a lower 2018 tax levy than the council previously approved.

In September, the council set the 2018 preliminary level at 7 percent higher than this year. That number can be decreased - but not increased - before final approval in December. Council members noted in September that they would like to see the final levy closer to a 5 percent increase, so Lyonais presented a plan for that Oct. 23.

With the decrease, the levy would go from $3,762,463 (the preliminary amount approved) to $3,692,137. Lyonais said that 5 percent increase from this year's levy would only raise resident tax rates about 0.86 percent.

No action was taken on the budget and levy, as the council will approve the final 2018 budget and levy at its regular council meeting Dec. 11. Residents will have a chance to give input at the meeting.

Sewer rates

The council approved a $3-per-month increase to city sewer rates, effective Jan. 1, 2018. The base rate for sewer services will increase from $45 to $48 per month, which is a 6.67 percent increase. This increase - which the public works commission recommended to the council - will help offset the costs of the sewer plant upgrades.

Public Works Director Ted Strand said this rate is similar to other area communities, such as Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point, and council members agreed the rate change is necessary and reasonable.

In other business Monday, the council:

• Allowed the public works department to buy a buffalo turbine for cleaning leaves, sand and debris off of roads for $12,985. Strand said the city's current machine is 21 years old.

• Agreed to donate $14,000 to the Crosslake Chamber of Commerce for the 2018 Fourth of July fireworks. The chamber asked for $15,000 but council members felt that was too big of an increase from the $12,000 the city gave this year. They settled on $14,000, as that's the amount the city budgeted for this year.

• Changed the city's health and safety training program for firefighters and other non-police city staff. The city will now use an online program through Target Solutions, which will allow employees to take the training course on their own time and will cost less than half of the $10,850 the city previously paid to Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association for training.

• Agreed to clean up the legal descriptions of rights of way on Forest Lake Road, which will cost about $3,100.

• Heard that Crow Wing County appointed Paul Herkenhoff as the city's new planning and zoning administrator, as Chris Pence has taken a new job. The council also gave Land Services Specialist Jon Kolstad signing authority on planning and zoning documents if Herkenhoff is not available.

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