FL’s preliminary levy holds steady

Late addition for parks puts 2013 numbers just over 2012’s

Clint Riese
News Editor

After weeks of chipping away in order to produce a flat 2013 preliminary property tax levy, the Forest Lake City Council on Monday agreed to a last-minute addition of $25,000 for park repairs and maintenance.

The amount that will now be certified with Washington County is up $22,373 over the final levy from 2012, or about a third of 1 percent. The new maximum levy – which can be reduced but not increased before it comes for final approval in December – stands at $7,188,901.

Mayor Chris Johnson and council members Susan Young and Jim DuFour supported the addition of the park funds.

“I value parks and I think that we’re not funding them enough,” Johnson said. “Particularly when we have zero coming in in park dedication fees, and that’s been our primary mechanism for maintaining and repairing park equipment, I think we need to step up and continue to repair and maintain it.”

Council members Mike Freer and Jackie McNamara cast the dissenting votes.

Young’s motion to include the funding is contingent upon the Park Board and the Forest Lake Area Athletic Association meeting and bringing forward to the council a list of priorities.

“I’m happier with the way the process went this year than last year – I thought there was a lot more give and take this time in the discussion – I’m just not happy that we all of a sudden threw an additional $25,000 in it,” Freer said. “Regardless of whether they can bring a plan forward, I’m fairly sure that we’re not going to reduce it.”

Department Consolidation

The budget talks were put on hold halfway in as the council decided to wrap up a related matter that would impact the city’s bottom line.

The consolidation of the community development and building departments was approved on a 4-1 vote. It results in cost savings of approximately $115,000 in 2013 via the termination of the department-head-level building official position currently filled by Keith Wille.

All but DuFour voted in favor of the consolidation.