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Jenkins: Council to use aid money to cushion levy

Council members speak out against miserly behavior.

091620.PEJ.JenkinsSign2.JPG
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

The Jenkins City Council lowered the tax levy by $15,000 using the American Rescue Act Plan of 2021 to avoid reducing the budget for 2022.

The action came at the council's regular meeting Monday, Dec. 13.

The proposed levy for 2022 had been an approximate 7% increase over this year. The new levy reflects around a 5% increase. The proposed levy was $339,688.55, but the council agreed on $324,688.55. The budget remains at $367,896.74.

Though all council members agreed with the decision, Charles Hoffman emphasized that if the council is going to render a levy, it actually has to start spending that money. He was specifically referring to the city streets, projects for which have been delayed due to cost.

Council member Andrew Rudlang had a similar complaint for funds collected from charitable gambling in the city. The city has an ordinance that entitles the city to 10% of charitable gambling revenues. Rudlang said those running charitable gambling in the city already have fees and taxes on that charitable gambling and he doesn't think the city can do better than the associated charities.

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Hoffman agreed that if the city is to continue collecting those fees, the council should also be prepared to spend those funds on appropriate projects. The city is limited in what it can use the funds for, but can use them for such items as playground equipment.

Mayor Jon Lubke said he sees those funds as a way the city can improve itself without increasing the levy. Council member Jerimey Flategraf said he can see both sides of the issue.

Rudlang suggested the city get rid of the ordinance on charitable gambling. Hoffman suggested council members should discuss what they would do with the funds. If they cannot come to a decision on a use that is at least as good as the charity those funds would go to, they should get rid of the ordinance.

The council will discuss the issue further during its second meeting of the month on Dec. 28.

In other business Monday, the council:

  • Approved a newly drafted conditional use permit for a proposed landscaping business after Crow Wing County chose to deny access to the business on County Road 145, thus making the first CUP invalid.
  • Learned property owners Mark and Lisa Leutem have withdrawn a petition to detach from the city, along with a related lawsuit, following mediation in which the city and the Leutems came to an agreement that the city will work to develop the road to the Leutems' property development and Leutem will work to develop the property sooner.
  • Agreed to add the city's name to efforts to expand broadband in the area.
  • Approved a draft agreement with Jenkins Township for the township to take over all maintenance of 12th Avenue Southwest.
  • Approved a lawful gambling permit for Snarky Loon.
  • Agreed to communicate with the city's snowplow driver about improving response time following a snow event.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.

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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