Lake Shore may again venture down the road to issue bonds to pay for street improvements after the city’s road/wastewater committee recommended the council proceed with issuing an estimated $1.26 million in bonds for road projects in 2020 and 2021.

As the Lake Shore City Council continues to work to lower its general revenue tax levy and budget for 2020, council members also sought to learn more about how to fund road projects, which are among the biggest costs in the city’s budget.

Last year, residents voted down plans to issue bonds to pay for road projects and construction of a new city hall in a citywide referendum vote.

During a budget workshop Wednesday, Nov. 20, Todd Hagen with Ehlers, a municipal adviser firm, shared information with the council about bonds.

The council may address the issue at its Monday, Nov. 25, regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m. at city hall. Go to www.pineandlakes.com for more information from that Nov. 23 meeting.

The council learned at the budget workshop that staff made more budget adjustments that whittled the proposed tax levy to $1,284,778, which is $12,477 less than the preliminary levy the council adopted in September.

The city can lower - but not raise - its preliminary tax levy before final adoption in December. This was the council’s second budget workshop, with two more planned at 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, and 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, at city hall. The council plans to adopt its 2020 general revenue tax levy and budget at its regular meeting Monday, Dec. 23, after giving the public a chance to comment at 6 p.m. that day.

In September, the city adopted a preliminary general revenue tax levy of $1,297,255, which represents a 24% increase from this year, and a preliminary budget of $1,520,692, which is 19.9% higher than this year.

The most recent budget reductions include lowering a cost of living increase for employees from 3% to 2% in 2020, and decreasing health insurance by 4% while staff continues to investigate options to keep costs down.

The 2020 proposed budget includes a $100,000 road bond payment. City Administrator Teri Hastings suggested that if the council decides to issue bonds for road projects, it should reduce the street improvements capital outlay (proposed at $250,000) by $100,000, or a least by $50,000, to lessen the significant budget increase to taxpayers.

Reducing the budget by $100,000 would result in an 11.35% budget increase as opposed to the 19.23% increase over 2019.

If the city opts not to issue bonds for road work, that $100,000 earmarked for bond payments could be taken out of the proposed budget.

Regardless, Hastings suggested bumping the street improvements capital outlay back to $250,000 in 2021.