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Crosslake: Council approves 5 percent levy increase

After much debate, the Crosslake City Council unanimously approved the 2017 budget and tax levy after a public meeting held before its regular meeting Monday, Dec. 12.

After much debate, the Crosslake City Council unanimously approved the 2017 budget and tax levy after a public meeting held before its regular meeting Monday, Dec. 12.

The total levy was set at $3,516,321, which is a 5 percent increase from this year. Finance Director Mike Lyonais said this increase will raise the tax rate about half a percent, from 27.6 percent to 28.1 percent.

The preliminary tax levy was also set at 5 percent in September, but the council discussed the possibility of lowering it to 3.58 percent at a budget meeting in October. Council member Dave Schrupp asked Lyonais at Monday's meeting why they were not going with the 3.58 percent increase that was last discussed.

Lyonais said setting the levy at 5 percent would generate excess revenue for the city - $18,451 - that could be put toward road or sewer projects in 2017. And if not used, that money could be spent on a debt payment.

In contrast, if the council set the levy at a 3.58 percent increase, it would have had to reduce city spending by $29,141.

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Council member Mark Wessels agreed with Schrupp that the lower levy would be better.

"If the council has to find a place or two to cut a little here and cut a little there, that would be my preference, to go with that number instead of the 5 percent," Wessels said. "Some of these road projects and some of these different things are just a matter of pushing it back a year or so and getting it done another time."

Lyonais said if the council wanted to go lower than a 5 percent increase, but not have to cut spending, the levy could be set at a 4.45 percent increase. Then the city would break even and not have any excess cash. But, he added, there are engineering projects planned for 2017 with no funding sources yet, so the excess money could help with those costs.

"Because you do have significant projects that you'll be making decisions on, my recommendation is that you leave it at 5 (percent increase)," Lyonais said.

Council member Brad Nelson agreed.

"You're going to levy it now or you're going to levy it next year. It's better to have a little extra and not spend it," Nelson said. "You can adjust for that in the following year."

Ultimately, the council approved the 5 percent levy increase unanimously.

The 2017 revenue budget totals $5,897,179, while the the expenditure budget totals $6,054,423.

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Also at the budget meeting, the council approved spending about $144,000 on new self-contained breathing apparatus equipment for the fire department.

Related Topics: CROSSLAKECROSSLAKE CITY COUNCIL
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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