FL sets preliminary levy increase of 12.2 percent

Bulk of jump related to City Center bonding


Clint Riese
News Editor

The Forest Lake City Council on Aug. 26 certified the preliminary 2014 property tax levy, due to Washington County by Sept. 15. The amount can be reduced but not increased before the final levy is adopted Dec. 9.

The proposed levy currently stands at $8,039,421. This would be a 12.2-percent increase from the final 2013 levy. Of the proposed increase of $875,517, debt payment on the lease revenue bonds issued to fund the planned Forest Lake City Center totals $606,929.

For a residential property valued at $178,900 in 2013 – the city’s average value – the city’s portion of the property tax levy would rise from $686.55 to $756.11, an increase of 10.1 percent. That calculation factors in a projected increase of 6 percent in taxable market value.

The council via a 3-2 vote authorized City Administrator Aaron Parrish to certify the levy. Councilmen Mike Freer and Ben Winnick voted in the minority.

Freer said 10 out of 12 residents at the second of two budget workshops spoke out against the degree of the increase.

“There’s no requirement to vote tonight,” Freer said. “We have till Sept. 15. We have time to compromise. … We can’t really do anything about the new city complex at this point. We’re going up that much; it doesn’t mean we have to go with all the increases for this new one.”

Budget highlights

An increase of 4.1 percent is proposed for the non-debt general fund levy. Double-digit-percentage jumps projected in licenses/permits and service charges would drive total general fund revenues to increase by 5.1 percent.

General fund expenditures would jump 5.0 percent to $9,256,357. Main contributing factors would be increases of $211,082 for police protection, $67,000 for surface water management, $36,000 for capital outlay, $34,651 for community development, $32,575 for elections, $19,265 for parks maintenance, $18,879 for general government administration and $12,000 for the senior center.

A budgeted increase of 8.1 percent is projected for water and sewer fund revenue, bringing revenues to $3,490,000. The fund’s operating expenses are budgeted to climb 3.8 percent, fueled in part by a $48,100 rise in professional services costs.

Other business

The council and Economic Development Authority at a joint meeting Aug. 26 each approved construction documents for the Forest Lake City Center. Construction management firm Kraus Anderson projects the city hall and public safety facility will come in under its budget of $21.21 million.

The EDA also approved the advertisement of bids. The project’s building committee will recommend best value contracting bids in eight of the critical work scopes.

A construction start date of Oct. 7 has been targeted. A representative of Kraus Anderson said it is important to start by then to get the foundation laid before winter kicks in.

The EDA approved the construction documents with a unanimous vote. In the council roll call, Freer and Winnick voted against approval.

  • Food on a Stick

    Councilman Winnick’s business borders the new Forest Lake City Hall and his business will appear to be a larger eyesore than it already is when the new City Hall is completed.

    The new City Hall will magnify Councilman Winnick’s unkept business and the reality that it is in a desperate need of a major clean up. In addition, there are multiple studies that shed suspicion that the storm runoff going through the Winnick’s business is contributing pollutants into Clear Lake.

    Councilman Winnick has a conflict of interest when it comes to the City Hall project; is there any wonder he is opposed to it. Councilman Winnick should abstain from voting on anything to do with the project.

    • Guest

      If you actually had “multiple studies” that showed that Councilman Winnick’s property was contributing to the pollution of Clear Lake, why would you speak of them in such vague generalities? Why not reference them by name and bring them forward for all of us to read and learn from?

      I suspect there are no such studies or if there are, they are so old and outdated as to no longer hold any weight as to the true and current environmental impact of Mr. Winnick’s business. Rather, in an obvious attempt to make any case for the new City Complex you prefer to make slanderous statements about a local businessman and Councilman.

      That said – prove me wrong.

  • Mike Freer tried to compromise, something that some of the Big Government/Big Spending folks said needs to be done. Turns out they aren’t interested in a compromise as they took NONE of his suggestions to heart. Sad.

  • Food on a Stick

    Funny, I was just pointing out that we should consider that Councilman Winnick may have a vested interest in opposing the new city hall. I guess my politeness was misinterpreted by you as not being fact based.

    As far as pollution runoff proof, it is has actually been written about for quite a number of years. Since you seem unwilling to do your own research, below are some links that may enlighten you. 

    Humorous that when I Goggled Clear Lake pollution studies your comments popped up right above comments about Clear Lake and Councilman Winnick’s business and Clear Lake pollution. 

    If you really look at the links below, you will find that the City Council has been involved in the Clear Lake runoff issue and when you consider that Councilman Winnick’s business looks like a junk yard (my opinion and it will be even more magnified when the new city hall is built); hence my comment that Councilman Winnick should abstain about anything to do with the city hall or runoff and retention ponds related to the project.

    I am actually surprised that you were unaware of the Clear Lake/Winnick runoff issue; it isn’t anything new.

    I honestly believe the FL Times should be reporting on this conflict of interest and the runoff studies below







    • Guest

      My apologies for not responding sooner. Having provided such a large sum of paperwork, I wanted to be sure to give it its due. That said, I have found the information you provided to be grossly lacking as evidence and am further convinced that with no factual backing you are attempting to discredit the opinions of a duly elected public official in a sad attempt to build a case for an unnecessary government building. You are grasping at straws really.

      Link #1:

      A link to comments made by someone named “Mike” (no last name) – suspiciously making the same arguments you are here in many of the same manners. Mike does happen to reference a couple of other links that you reference in your post and I will get to them next. That said, unless we are ready to submit ourselves to the “I read it on the internet so it must be true” argument you’ll have to forgive my quick dismissal of this link as any sort of evidence.

      Link #2:

      In so far as I can tell the word Winnick only appears twice in this report.

      Page #8 – “The Winnick supply site south of town on TH 61 is believed to be affecting the water quality of Clear Lake.”

      The most operative word in this entire sentence is “believed”. This isn’t conclusive evidence it is the opinion of a person writing a 60 page report. I will submit to the fact that there are people who believe the Winnick business may cause issues with pollution, if you can submit that in this entire report there isn’t a shred of actual evidence that it does.

      Page #9 – “The industrial sites throughout the City have been identified to be a potential contribution to pollution in the City, especially the Winnick Supply site, which discharges to Clear Lake and potentially, has degraded its water quality.”

      The word potential appears twice in this one sentence. If something has the potential for an outcome it is not in and of itself evidence that it actually takes place.

      Link #3:

      I found this to be the closest thing that you present to actual evidence. In the end however, the sum total of the entire argument presented in this study is that there is a ditch that runs adjacent to the Winnick property. One fact you fail to consider is that the water in that ditch does not come solely from the Winnick property but rather from a much larger area in The City (Page #62 – Heading 5.2.5). That same section goes on to state that the TP (Total Phosphorous) generated from subwatersheds 20, 14 and 13 could be reduced by reworking the Winnick Ditch. Two questions jumped out at me when I thought about these statements. 1. Why is Councilman Winnick liable for phosphorous collected in other parts of the city that ultimately just end up flowing past his property? 2. If phosphorous is truly the problem in question, where is phosphorous being used on the Winnick site (are you arguing that Councilman Winnick is fertilizing his class 5, or his inventory)?

      Link #4:

      As best I can tell the word Winnick does not appear in this entire document.

      Link #5:

      This link is broken, and as such I cannot review the evidence you present here.

      Link #6:

      The word Winnick does not appear in this entire document and as such I cannot tell how it has any bearing on what you are arguing.