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Pequot Lakes: Council reviews preliminary budgets, tax levy

Deviating from past years, the Pequot Lakes City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 23, reviewed proposed budgets that reflected less than a 3 percent increase from this year.

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Deviating from past years, the Pequot Lakes City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 23, reviewed proposed budgets that reflected less than a 3 percent increase from this year.

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Past levies

2015-16: $39,259 levy increase

2014-15: $25,720 levy increase

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2013-14: $1,941 levy increase

2012-13: $5,094 levy decrease

2011-12: $12,526 levy increase

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In past years, the council has adopted a double-digit preliminary tax levy increase knowing it would work to cut budgets to lower the levy by final adoption in December. However, taxpayers receive tax statements with the preliminary levy listed, and they don't always understand the council never intended to adopt the higher number.

The 2017 tax levy fund budgets project a preliminary tax levy of $1,593,350, which is $39,998 (2.57 percent) higher than 2016. The council in April had directed staff to compile 2017 budgets with no more than a 3 percent increase.

Council members indicated they were happy with the numbers, crediting the new structure put in place in the past year when Nancy Malecha became city administrator. Malecha said she appreciated the council's direction in the spring to strive for budgets that didn't go above 3 percent increases.

The council didn't take any action on the proposed budgets and levy, but indicated staff didn't have to reduce their proposals. The council must set a preliminary tax levy by Sept. 30. That number can be decreased but not increased before final adoption in December.

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Regarding the 2017 proposed budgets, increases over $2,500 that are included in the tax levy funds include:

• Employee wages: The budget reflects a 3 percent increase for all employees.

• Health insurance: The budget reflects a 5 percent increase for health insurance premiums.

• Police: Capital outlay to buy a squad car, computer, radar and cost percentage for a new server at city hall.

• Roads and streets: Contract services for road work.

• Highway 371: Capital outlay to buy a snow plow/dump truck.

• Highway 371: Interfund transfers from Capital Improvement Fund for the old Highway 371 project.

Police officer resigns

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In other business Aug. 23, the council approved a separation and release agreement between the city and Teamsters General Local 346 and police officer Chad Nangle. According to the agreement, Nangle, who worked for the department since October 2001, voluntarily resigned effective Aug. 23, and the city paid him a lump sum of $4,000.

The agreement said: "City, union and Chad Nangle mutually feel that it is in the best interests of all parties that Chad Nangle amicably separate from employment with the city in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth below in this agreement."

Council members granted approval to begin the process of hiring another police officer.

Nangle had served as the police liaison officer to Pequot Lakes Schools. Until the police department is fully staffed, a part-time officer will work at Pequot Lakes Schools on Mondays and Fridays, with full-time officers filling in the gap.

Capital improvements

Also Aug. 23, Patty Kettles of Springsted Inc. shared a PowerPoint presentation on the city's capital improvement planning model, which is designed to anticipate capital improvement expenditures and integrate them with the city's operating expenditures and levy so they may be purchased as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.

Council members were instructed to consider the benefits, costs, alternatives and impact on operating expenditures as they reviewed the model.

The capital improvement plan is designed to be updated annually, so it becomes an ongoing fiscal planning tool that continually anticipates future capital and operational expenditures and funding sources.

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