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Savings sought in Jenkins city projects

Valuations, state and county changes prompt council after taxes shift to residents

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Jenkins city hall. Echo Journal file photo

JENKINS โ€” Jenkins Mayor Charles Hoffman expressed surprise at exactly how much taxes changed for Jenkins residents.

At the Monday, April 10, regular city council meeting, Hoffman said changes to the state and county equation for taxes may equate to a reduced tax rate for some commercial properties, but at the same time the burden may have shifted to some residential properties.

Jenkins increased its tax levy 3.2% in December, but that is only part of the equation along with other taxing authorities and home valuations. Combined with market value increases, Hoffman said some Jenkins residents are seeing a 16%-20% property tax increase.

Hoffman would like the council to put extra scrutiny on the budget, looking even closer at quarterly financials to find cost savings for the city that can be passed on to residents.

Hoffman said the city is already anticipating large savings in wages/salaries due to a change in staffing. The exact numbers will be more clear in June.

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Council member Andrew Rudlang presented a savings opportunity. The city's current website costs $500-$600 annually through their current domain. The company the city contracts through has been pushing for a new $2,000 per year contract with annual price increases.

Rudlang said he has experience creating and hosting websites for himself, friends with businesses. He believes he can create a comparable product hosted by the city for $130-$140 per year. Rudlang said he has already started working on a proof of concept that can be found at cityofjenkins.com.

Hoffman was fond of the idea of the city being its own web administrator.

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Hoffman proposed other ways to save money, including seeing if the city can pay monthly instead of twice a year on bonds to pay for an upcoming road project. Doing so would reduce interest on the bond, possibly to a significant amount.

Hoffman also proposed purchasing five-year CDs at possibly up to 5.5% interest to help pay for the project. The CDs could possibly provide a windfall of $200,000 for the project, he said.

In other business Monday, the council:

  • Received an in-person thank you from the Lakes Area Food Shelf for a recent donation. The food shelf is looking at expansions to meet growing clientele.
  • Approved a plat for a new storage building owned by Ennengas at recommendation from planning and zoning.

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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