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.

    • Cameron Piper

      If you actually had a study 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.

  • http://www.EricLangness.com/ Eric Langness

    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.