Jenkins: Council seeks to prevent surpluses in future budgets

Levy approved with no changes and agreement to prevent surplus in the future

The sign just south of Jenkins is meant to remind people that Jenkins is its own community and the "Gateway to the Whitefish Chain." Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

A presentation of the 2020 audit of the city of Jenkins revealed that the city has a surplus of possibly $75,000 in its undedicated funds, which the council was not anticipating, causing Mayor Jon Lubke to stress the importance of avoiding large surpluses in the future.

The surplus, in part, came from cancellation of certain projects, including road work, the council learned at its Monday, Dec. 14, meeting.

The city has been working much of the year to streamline its accounts and records to make it easier to track the city's expenses. Clerk Krista Okerman said the new system should make it easier for the city to assess its financial position before setting a preliminary tax levy in the future. This would allow the council to reduce the levy if the city anticipates a surplus at its disposal, or increase the levy only if it really needs to.

The audit information became available too late for the council to make an educated decision on the levy this year.

While Lubke and other council members said they would have preferred to reduce this year's levy when they learned of the surplus, months ago the council canceled its second monthly meeting in December due to its proximity to Christmas, meaning the council would not have time to closely review the surplus, adjust the levy and approve it before the Dec. 30 deadline.


The Dec. 14 meeting was their last chance, and none of the council members wanted to risk reducing the levy and finding a deficit in 2021.

The council, however, did choose to delay approving the 2021 budget so council members and city staff could identify the actual amount of any surplus and reassess the budget with that amount in mind. Statutes require the general revenue tax levy to be approved by Dec. 30, but they do not require the budget to be approved and submitted at that time, giving the council time to review the information.

The preliminary levy was set at $277,000, the same as 2020's levy. To keep that number flat, the council had allocated $20,000 from its undedicated funds to cover other expenses, but this was before council members knew there may have been more in the undedicated funds to work with.

The council certified the levy at $277,000 as proposed. Despite the lack of change, the city expects a 5% decrease in the city tax rate due to the increase in the city's market value.

In other business Monday, the council:

  • Approved an off-sale liquor license for Snarky Loon Brewing Company and agreed to prorate the license for the incoming business until the new licensing schedule starts in April. The Snarky Loon could open in February on the former Trophy Time Taxidermy property.
  • Learned Martin Joyce will no longer perform septic inspector services for the city starting in January. The council will begin looking for new options.
  • Agreed to remove the fax line for city hall, saving $480 per year. Okerman said she has likely only received approximately two faxes in the past four years.
  • Issued a thank you to Gary Hart, outgoing council member, for all of his years of service to the city.

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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