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Pequot Lakes: Preliminary tax levy reduced further

A revised general revenue tax levy for Pequot Lakes totals $1,623,650, an increase of $41,827 from 2017.

That's the number that will be presented at the Pequot Lakes truth in taxation meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5, at Pequot Lakes City Hall, where citizens can ask questions about the proposed 2018 tax levy and budget before the city council adopts both.

The council met Tuesday, Nov. 21, to talk about the 2018 preliminary budget in hopes of reducing a preliminary tax levy of $1,645,370 by another $50,000 and seeking a tax rate increase closer to 1 percent.

City Administrator Nancy Malecha presented budget changes that further reduced the 2018 budget by $53,400, for a 0.999 percent tax rate increase. Changes came in various areas of the budget.

The 2018 tax rate is 57.576 percent, compared to the 2017 rate of 56.577 percent.

The council unanimously approved the revised preliminary general revenue tax levy. The council and city staff have worked since September to lower the proposed tax levy, which originally was $1,677,050.

Council member Scott Pederson suggested that next year the council start considering factors that could affect future years' budgets.

"You look at it today and for the next year budget and it looks good. I'm concerned where it could go," Pederson said, noting the city took several hits this year.

The city had a $24,000 tax capacity increase. What will it be next year; who knows? Pederson said. And the city lost $27,000 when Jenkins Township canceled its annual police contract with the city police department.

"What happens if another contract disappears?" Pederson asked. "We have to be thinking that - not for 2018, but long-range thinking. There is no guarantee we will have contracts."

Pederson also mentioned police squad cars, saying they are a huge expense. Next year, he wants to discuss the possibility of having officers leave squad cars at city hall to save mileage.

"If you do the math it's amazing," he said of the commuting expense related to miles put on the squads. Squads could possibly last longer if those commuting miles were eliminated, he said.